An unusually disturbing noir from a director better known for more mainstream fare like High Noon and From Here to Eternity, Act of Violence focuses on a WWII veteran haunted by his past. A film that was close to the director's heart, he said that it represented the first time that I felt confident that I knew what I was doing and why I was doing it.
Van Heflin stars as Frank Enley, a contractor living a peaceful life in a small California town, when Joe Parkson, a man who served in the army with him, arrives in the area, intent on killing him. He follows Frank to a lake where he's fishing but is unable to kill him.
When a lakeside bartender tells Frank that a man with a limp is looking for him, Frank is frightened, realizing why he has come. He tells his wife, Edith (Janet Leigh), that Joe is a man who spent time with in a Nazi POW camp, who is now mentally ill, and that he intends to avoid him.
When Frank goes to Los Angeles for a business convention, Joe arrives at his house and tells his wife that her husband is responsible for his injury and for the deaths of a number of men. Fearing for her husband's life, Edith heads for L.A. with Joe not far behind.