Deadline at Dawn (1946)

Approved  |   |  Film-Noir, Mystery, Romance  |  3 April 1946 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.8/10 from 1,093 users  
Reviews: 36 user | 16 critic

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.



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


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 <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

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


KILLER HUNT!...Four Hours to Go!


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

3 April 1946 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Den långa natten  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


"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 »


At the end of the film the main characters exit the 8th Police Precinct.It is night time and the streets are deserted.Yet when June and Alex drive away in the police car we can see through the back window of the vehicle the streets bustling with activity,cars and people and it's bright and sunny. See more »


[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 »


Version of Dro itsureba gantiadisas (1965) See more »

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User Reviews

A very sticky summer night in the city
12 June 2006 | by (Western New York) – See all my reviews

When a blind ex-husband wearing a boutonnière shows up late in the evening demanding $1400, a good night is probably not in store. Especially when his former spouse's drunken excuse for not paying is "that sailor" must have stolen it. Thus begins Deadline at Dawn, an early noir that's not only a taut and agreeably complicated little mystery but that also aspires, and largely succeeds, in constructing an urban microcosm.

The sailor (Bill Williams) on shore leave has, as sailors on leave do, drunk too much, gambled away his money, been lured up to a wicked woman's apartment, and fallen into a blackout. (The movie's based on a novel by Cornell Woolrich, writing as William Irish, who knew whereof he wrote.) When he climbs back out, thanks to black coffee supplied by a kindly newsie, $1400 tumbles out of his pocket.

Trying to piece together the evening, he strays into a dime-a-dance palace, where he meets a would-be hard case (Susan Hayward – in her 24th movie!). Making small talk with his bored-to-the-bone partner, Williams speculates whether a rainstorm might break the heat wave. "Such things have been known to happen," replies Hayward, thereby lowering the thermometer pronto. (The quirky, bristling dialogue by Clifford Odets is one of the many amenities of Deadline at Dawn.) Of course, Hayward inevitably thaws enough to offer counsel to Williams and serve as sidekick in his quest to make amends (he's a square-rigger right out of one of the square states). They return to the robbed woman's apartment only to find her (Lola Lane) – dead. It's unclear to the befuddled Williams, and to Hayward, whether he might indeed have been the culprit. Trouble is, he's taking a 6 a.m. bus back to Norfolk, where he's stationed; there's only a few hours left to clear his conscience – or fess up to the police.

An immigrant cabbie (Paul Lukas) improbably volunteers as a third ally, and the three, together and separately, embark on various sleuthing expeditions through the dark and soupy streets of Manhattan. For a movie that clocks in under an hour and a half, Deadline at Dawn boasts a cast just short of epic. Among the principals who intersect are Joseph Calleia, as a ruthless yet debonair gangster; Osa Massen as a lame housewife expelled from the rubble of Europe; and Steven Geray as a well-mannered stalker. Joining them are countless players with brief walk-ons, comic or poignant, of the 8-million-stories-in-the-naked-city variety, giving the movie – the sole directorial effort by east-coast theater maven Harold Clurman – its distinctive tone and texture. (Jules Dassin must have borrowed greedily from it when he came to film his own The Naked City during the sweltering New York summer of 1947.) Deadline at Dawn falls short of perfection. It's too short for all it contains, it's a bit sooty from all the red herrings, and its way out verges on the-butler-did-it (or maybe Roger Ackroyd). But a lot of RKO talent went into its making (in addition to the above, Nicholas Musuraca photographed it, and Hanns Eisler – later to become a serious Leftist composer in East Germany – wrote the score). But it has its own sweaty, big-city flavor, a pungent New York Story, and a prototype of many noirish delights yet to come.

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