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:
Miss Foster (as Beverly Campbell)
Henry Hart ...
Jess Kirkpatrick ...
Sue (as Cay Forrester)
Dr. Matson (as Fred Jaquet)
Lawrence Dobkin ...
Dr. Schaefer (as Larry Dobkin)
Frank Gerstle ...


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 <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


A picture as excitingly different as its title!


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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
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Did You Know?


The scene in which Bigelow runs in panic through the streets after learning he has been poisoned was a stolen shot. The pedestrians had no idea a movie was being made and no warning that Edmond O'Brien would be plowing through them. See more »


After finding out who's in the photo, Bigelow leaves the photography studio and immediately starts getting shot at. He heads toward the factory (screen right) where the shots are supposed to be coming from, but all the shots being fired and ricocheting off the ground, pipe, barrel, etc. are coming from the other direction (screen left). 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 Los Angeles Plays Itself (2003) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

extremely simple yet extremely effective
30 May 2005 | by (Bradenton, Florida) – See all my reviews

One of the best film noir flicks of all-time (along with The Killers). DO NOT CONFUSE THIS WITH THE REMAKE!! The film stars our unattractive hero, O'Brien, as the man who has been poisoned and is told he has only 24 hours to live. He has no idea who did it and spends almost the entire film tracking down the dirty rat that done him in. It's amazing how many wonderful noir films O'Brien appeared in over the years.

The pacing is good, acting top-rate and very noir-ish, and it manages to pull so much out of a very simple plot with minimal sets. In other words, it gives a fantastic "bang for the buck" and modern filmmakers would really benefit from learning a lesson or two from DOA.

I just checked the IMDb Top 50 Film Noir films and for some odd reason this film is not listed. How is this possible?

57 of 76 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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