6.8/10
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36 user 16 critic

Deadline at Dawn (1946)

Approved | | Film-Noir, Mystery, Romance | 3 April 1946 (USA)
When a woman he meets is murdered, a soon to be drafted sailor has until dawn to find the killer, aided by a weary dance hall girl.

Directors:

, (uncredited)

Writers:

(screenplay), (based upon a novel by) (as William Irish)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
...
Alex Winkley
...
Val Bartelli
...
Helen Robinson
...
Edna Bartelli
Jerome Cowan ...
Lester Brady
Marvin Miller ...
Sleepy Parsons
Roman Bohnen ...
Frantic Man with Injured Cat
Steven Geray ...
Gloved Man - Edward Hornick
Joe Sawyer ...
Babe Dooley
Constance Worth ...
Mrs. Nan Raymond
Joseph Crehan ...
Lt. Kane
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Storyline

Alex, a sailor on leave, recovers from a drink-induced blackout with a large sum of money belonging to Edna Bartelli, a b-girl who invited him home to "fix her radio." He tries to return it with the reluctant aid of June Goth, a sweet but oh-so-tired dance hall girl; they find Edna murdered. Not quite sure he didn't do it himself, Alex and June have four hours in the dead of night to find the real killer before his leave ends. Their quest brings them into contact with a sleazy kaleidoscope of minor characters; clues get more and more tangled... Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

dance hall | dance | sailor | clue | money | See All (96) »

Taglines:

KILLER HUNT!...Four Hours to Go!


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

3 April 1946 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Den långa natten  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

"Lux Radio Theater" broadcast a 60 minute radio adaptation of the movie on May 20, 1946 with Paul Lukas reprising his film role. See more »

Goofs

The bag of bananas that Alex buys prior to entering the dance hall has disappeared after he and June leave together. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Edna Bartelli: Why, it's Sleepy Parsons! Aren't you dead yet?
[pours a drink]
Edna Bartelli: Here's to nothin'.
[Sleepy takes out cigar]
Edna Bartelli: Still on your 20 cigars a day?
[Sleepy puts cigar away]
Edna Bartelli: Can't your heart take it, Sleepy?
Sleepy Parsons: You drunk again?
Edna Bartelli: Yes.
[...]
See more »

Connections

Version of Akai shisen (1980) See more »

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User Reviews

 
A terrific, flawed, but terrific small film, all at night in New York, about innocence and honesty
25 June 2011 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Deadline at Dawn (1946)

If you can overcome, or overlook, the slightly stilted plot and the improbability of the events (in an O'Henry kind of way, if you know his clever short stories, though the actual writer is Clifford Odets, whose politics are not very visible), you'll be able to catch the really fine acting and directing here. And the nicely felt night crime drama that is really just a beautiful sappy love story (the best kind). The cast is small, the plot twists unreasonable but still enchanting, and the effect, in the end, is tightly wound.

While you might think the murder is the central premise (and it's key, for sure), or the sailor's blackout is the main event (and it isn't, really), you will eventually see it's the sailor himself, his utter innocence, that is both the core of the film and the driving force. This is the Odets part of the writing, character driven, and the sailor, through some effect of drinking we assume, has had a brief blackout, and he comes to his senses on the streets of New York with a lot of cash in his pocket. He's troubled, but we sympathize. Then a woman he was with is found dead. Still, this sailor is such the definition of innocence, there's no doubt--almost no doubt--that someone else did it. But who? And how can he defend himself?

Enter Susan Hayward, playing at first a kind of professional dance companion (the innocent side of prostitution, and a good match for our man). After work, she wants to help him because he's so clearly a good person, and then a cabbie strangely gets involved, too, sucked into the idea that justice will go wrong if the real killer can't be found. The dead woman had a couple of unsavory friends, and these two get into the plot in stages, and what we end up with is half a dozen clearly defined people all fighting for some small piece of personal clarity and internal well being.

It helps that all the actors are first rate small time contributors (Hayward is the one star, and is terrific). It also helps that the whole scenario is limited in time and space, so we get to feel like we are there, in New York, in this small neighborhood at night. It's great stuff on that level alone. The director? It's his one and only film. But the cinematographer was an old pro at the peak of his career, Nicholas Musuraca, who did a whole slew of noirs and dramas, some worth seeing just for the photography ("Spiral Staircase" comes to mind, but see the IMDb list). So whatever the small time credentials of much of the cast, there is some seriousness here that won't let go.

If the plot is a little preposterous, it's only because it's trying to package things too neatly. The writing is first rate, beyond plot structure, with some classic quotable lines that are either film noir staples or philosophical nuggets (the latter from the cabby, in particular). A film that would reward a second viewing just for the details of dialog and camera-work.


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