28 August 2014 | adamshl
Daring Morality Play
The concept of tempering legality with compassion is a daring, slippery slope. It is today as it was in 1948 when this challenging film was released.
Fortunately, this drama has the great acting team Florence Eldridge and Fredric March in the lead roles, lending both power and sensitivity to their characterizations. While conceding that the law must by its nature be clear and committed, one can also empathize with the human challenges faced in the case of a terminally ill loved one who is in great pain and suffering.
Where does one draw the line in such cases, especially when a spouse accused of murder emphatically pleads guilty? It's a tough situation created here, and one that must either tread the path of legal justice or find extenuating circumstances to help relieve the inevitable sentence.
"An Act of Murder" manages to walk this tightrope with considerable balance, thanks to an outstanding cast and some petty talented writers. The film also may be considered a "lost work," despite the pairing of Mr. and Mrs. March in the lead roles.
It's also interesting to see only a single bona fide professional review in the IMDb, as though this subject may have been (and still may be) too tough to handle. The most complete review (by Bosley Crowther of the NY Times) expresses the critic's general reaction without declaring a firm stance on the controversial subject of euthanasia. And perhaps this is the best we can ever get, for the topic may be too challenging for us mortals to ever definitively solve.