In the late 1940s, filmmakers were creative in making films in the present setting, using injured war veterans as characters to create another subgenre within film noir. In response, Fred Zinnemann directed a movie called “Act of Violence” in 1948, which was released in theaters in early 1949. This was so significant because this film defined Fred Zinnemann as a filmmaker.
The overall design of this film was complicated to viewers because the story was mixed with film noir and post-World War II trauma with the two characters, which were developed based on Zinnemann’s own experience moving from Germany to the US. In this case, he created his two main characters to have hidden backstories of how they escaped to California as concentration camp survivors. There was a high intensity of violence and prostitution between war veterans during this time as our country was working on restoring peace, and this film may alarm viewers that the nation was going in the wrong direction.
On the other hand, other critics view this film as significant and incredible because it builds sympathy among veterans and allows viewers to understand where they start to respect them more as people. During this period, people needed to be there for veterans because their experiences were so traumatic that they had a hard time managing their emotions. With the support, the individuals realized they were in better hands. Although this film is the opposite, it kept viewers on their toes about how this film noir had gone above and beyond, being one of the darkest films released after World War II.
Since director Zinnnemann was from Europe, this film was well-liked by critics because several elements were European style within the story. Several viewers may argue this to be a blend of American film noir, German expressionism, and American Melodrama. Combining those genres made this film so successful and thrilling to watch. This was because the use of good/evil was portrayed so clearly that viewers could easily relate to this movie.
As much as this film was significant and well made, there were several areas for improvement, including character development, where viewers can learn more about who the characters are, their backstory, intentions, and background. The film could have been more straightforward for viewers to recognize who the protagonist and the antagonist were, but they will have to research some information about the movie once they watch it. Another area for improvement of this film, as well as other film noirs, was that these films were so dark that the movie's pace could have been faster and faster. Viewers also were bored watching this film because the movie was more focused on the story than visual effects, and modern viewers may have seen these films differently than in 1949.
The overall legacy of this film was more of how well the story was written and told to the viewers. It was a heated film from start to finish, ending in darkness, as with all other film noirs. As this story revolved around war veterans, it made it much more significant because film noirs in this period were more about typical domestic or random crimes among the characters. This film is essential because Zinnemann was nominated for The Grand Prize at the Cannes Film Festival.