The grim melodrama implied by its title is fully displayed in Actors of Violence. It is strong meat for the heavy drama addicts, tellingly produced and played to develop tight excitement.
Story concerns two vets. Van Heflin has come out of the war with honors while his comrades, all but one, were killed in a Nazi prison camp. Robert Ryan, crippled and vengeful, pursues Heflin to make him answer for betraying his buddies.
The playing and direction catch plot aims and the characterizations are all topflight thesping. Heflin and Ryan deliver punchy performances that give substance to the menacing terror of the Robert L. Richards script, taken from a story by Collier Young.
It’s grim business, unrelieved by lightness, and the players belt over their assignments under Zinnemann’s knowing direction. Janet Leigh points up her role as Heflin’s worried but courageous wife, while Phyllis Thaxter does well by a smaller part as Ryan’s girl. A standout is the brassy, blowzy femme created by Mary Astor – a woman of the streets who gives Heflin shelter during his wild flight from fate.