Act of Violence

color by Victor Mascaro

At 9 P.M. tomorrow, the CBS "Special Movie Presentation" is an Emmet G. Lavery Production called "Act of Violence." Elizabeth Montgomery stars as Katherine McSweeney, a television news writer whose liberal beliefs are challenged when she is brutally mugged by three Hispanic youths.

Divorced, Katherine lives with her young son in a lower-middleclass neighborhood. She is assigned to a "crime in the streets" news series with Tony Bonelli (James Sloyan), a reporter with no patience for her liberal views. He finds her "ignorant, softminded, sheltered."

Returning from work by taxi, Katherine is attacked in the hallway of her apartment building. At a hospital, the questioning detective is suspicious of her explanations. "I didn't ask to be mugged," she protests. "Didn't you?" he asks, suggesting the fashionable theory that somehow the victim is responsible for the crime.

Katherine becomes increasingly paranoid, flinching involuntarily at the sight of a brown or black face. Tony finally convinces her to tell her own story on television. In an interview, she bitterly condemns her attackers: "I am a bigot, a racist, a fascist -- that's what they made me, that's why I hate them."

By film's end, Katherine regains some of her former perspective and the final note is cautiously upbeat. But it rings hollow, primarily because the first three-quarters of this production is presented so vividly and powerfully.

The script by Robert Collins and the direction by Paul Wendkos combine to make Katherine's fear and rage chillingly convincing. On top of this, Miss Montgomery, although annoyingly partial to soft-focus lenses, gives another of her very effective "victim" portrayals. The tentatively optimistic conclusion cannot compete dramatically with the rest of the movie.

If you are interested in owning the unedited version of this film, email me for details.

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