7.4/10
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130 user 58 critic

D.O.A. (1949)

Approved | | Drama, Film-Noir, Mystery | 21 April 1950 (USA)
Frank Bigelow, told he's been poisoned and has only a few days to live, tries to find out who killed him and why.

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(story and screenplay), (story and screenplay) | 2 more credits »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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...
...
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Miss Foster (as Beverly Campbell)
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Henry Hart ...
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...
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Sam
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Sue (as Cay Forrester)
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Dr. Matson (as Fred Jaquet)
Lawrence Dobkin ...
Dr. Schaefer (as Larry Dobkin)
Frank Gerstle ...
...
Kitty
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Storyline

Small-town accountant Frank Bigelow goes to San Francisco for a week's fun prior to settling down with fiancée Paula. After a night on the town, he wakes up with more than just a hangover; doctors tell him he's been given a "luminous toxin" with no antidote and has, at most, a week to live! Not knowing who did it or why, Bigelow embarks on a frantic odyssey to find his own murderer. Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

A picture as excitingly different as its title!


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

21 April 1950 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Dead on arrival  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

According to the police report which was sent from the San Francisco Police Department to the Los Angeles Unit which classifies Frank Bigelow as a missing person, Frank is 33 years old. See more »

Goofs

When Frank starts to sit down next to Jeanie at the club, his cigarette is in his left hand. But in the next shot, while he's still in the motion of sitting down, it's now in his right hand. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Homicide Detective: Can I help you?
Frank Bigelow: I'd like to see the man in charge.
Homicide Detective: In here...
Frank Bigelow: I want to report a murder.
Homicide Captain: Sit down. Where was this murder committed?
Frank Bigelow: San Francisco, last night.
Homicide Captain: Who was murdered?
Frank Bigelow: I was.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The end credits read "The medical facts in this motion picture are authentic. Luminous toxin is a descriptive term for an actual poison. Technical Adviser, Edward F. Dunne, M.D." See more »

Connections

Featured in Untitled Composition #1 (2005) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
A Better Print Helps This Unique Noir Story
28 October 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

When I started watching all the film noirs I could find, I was a bit disappointed in this. However, after three viewings I now find it decent. It's nothing super, but certainly better than what I though at first. A big help is having a better print of the film. This is one of those movies that always had a poor VHS quality transfer and many times the same on DVD. Finding a good print is hard, although I finally got a decent one with this Killer Classic DVD set that includes this movie.

The story, like the print, is not always easy to follow, either, even though the premise is very simple. A man discovers he has been poisoned and there is no hope for recovery. Before he dies, he retraces his steps to find out who "murdered him" (even though he's still alive when saying that) and why.

The story gets a bit complicated. Like a Sherlock Holmes or Charlie Chan mystery, there are a number of suspects that keep popping up. Many of them are hard to figure.

This is an odd film noir for several quirky things in this movie. The lead character, "Frank Bigelow" (Edmund O'Brien), is strange and kind of stupid in the beginning. There are a half dozen of these dumb whistle-like wolf call sound-effects that come out every time he sees a pretty woman. It just doesn't fit in a tough film noir. Then there is his possessive girlfriend/secretary "Paula," (Pamela Britton) who is constantly calling him and paranoid about his whereabouts. She acts more like an insecure, nagging wife but she obviously cares a great deal about him. But, man, give the poor guy some space!

The dialog in this film ranges from incredibly stupid to very clever and solid film noir material.

We also see one of the most sadistic people I have ever seen on film: "Chester," played by the sadistic-looking Neville Brand. Wow, is this guy sick or what? He reminded me of "Vera" (Ann Savage) in "Detour." Those two would have made an interesting couple! Brand's character is only interested in one thing in life: inflicting pain and the slower and more brutal, the better.

Anyway, if you find a good print, tolerate some of the goofy things in the film, this is an interesting film noir that gets better with each viewing, as you understand the story better.


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