D.O.A. (1950)

Approved  |   |  Drama, Film-Noir, Mystery  |  30 April 1950 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.4/10 from 7,573 users  
Reviews: 118 user | 53 critic

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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Cast overview, first billed only:
Pamela Britton ...
Miss Foster (as Beverly Campbell)
Lynn Baggett ...
William Ching ...
Henry Hart ...
Laurette Luez ...
Jess Kirkpatrick ...
Cay Forester ...
Sue (as Cay Forrester)
Frank Jaquet ...
Dr. Matson (as Fred Jaquet)
Lawrence Dobkin ...
Dr. Schaefer (as Larry Dobkin)
Frank Gerstle ...
Carol Hughes ...


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


A picture as excitingly different as its title!


Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

30 April 1950 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Dead on arrival  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The Phillips Export-Import Co. where Bigelow is sent in Los Angeles has its offices in the Bradbury Building, an iconic office building in Los Angeles designated a National Historic Landmark in 1977 and the scene of numerous movie shoots from the 1940s into the 2000s. Among the most famous movies with scenes shot in the Bradbury are Blade Runner, Chinatown and I, the Jury. See more »


The majority of the movie is told from Frank Bigelow's perspective, as he recalls events that led him to the police station to report his own murder. When he is in The Fisherman nightclub, a stranger swaps Bigelow's drink for one with a different drink containing poison. But no one, including Bigelow, saw the stranger do this, so Bigelow wouldn't have recalled this detail for the story he tells the police. See more »


[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 »


Featured in The Best of Film Noir (1999) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

D.O.A. 1 and 2.
4 February 2002 | by See all my reviews

This is probably Rudolph Maté's peak.When a B-movie reaches such heights,it should be called nothing but classic.The movie starts slowly,after a brilliant opening,then picks up speed and ends up leaving the spectator panting for breath.Like every film noir -why do they use a French expression for a typically American genre?-,it's very hard to catch up with the very complicated plot,although the cause for the fighting is laughable(a bill of sale).There are a lot of characters,male and female,but the scenarists manage to preserve cohesion.This film noir recalls the Greek tragedy,because we learn in the very first scene that the hero has been irremediably poisoned . Some scenes are particularly brilliant:the killer sadistically smiling,as he tells the hero he's going to kill him slowly,very slowly(the irony lies in the fact that he does not know his prisoner is really slowly dying);the short-lived reunion with his girlfriend;the funeral urn.The last line is the very title of the film.

There have been very harsh words about the remake("color me dead"(1988)),featuring Dennis Quaid and Meg Ryan.Probably unfair.It's no longer a film noir,but rather a whodunit,the plot -only the initial situation is the same- multiplies the wrong tracks .Quaid is a college professor and Ryan a student.So do not try to compare it with its highly superior predecessor,and you'll be able to enjoy it .

17 of 21 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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