6.8/10
1,451
38 user 19 critic

Deadline at Dawn (1946)

When a woman he meets is murdered, a soon-to-ship-out sailor has until dawn to find the killer, aided by a weary dance hall girl.

Directors:

Harold Clurman, William Cameron Menzies (uncredited)

Writers:

Clifford Odets (screenplay), Cornell Woolrich (based upon a novel by) (as William Irish)
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1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Susan Hayward ... June Goffe
Paul Lukas ... Gus Hoffman
Bill Williams ... Alex Winkler
Joseph Calleia ... Val Bartelli
Osa Massen ... Helen Robinson
Lola Lane ... Edna Bartelli
Jerome Cowan ... Lester Brady
Marvin Miller ... Sleepy Parsons
Roman Bohnen ... Frantic Man with Injured Cat
Steven Geray ... Edward Honig
Joe Sawyer ... Babe Dooley
Constance Worth ... Nan Raymond
Joseph Crehan ... Lieutenant Kane
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Storyline

Alex, a radio-specialist 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 the money with the reluctant aid of June Goffe, 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 as the 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 (100) »

Taglines:

KILLER HUNT!...Four Hours to Go! See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

18 March 1946 (Sweden) See more »

Also Known As:

Den långa natten See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

RKO Radio Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Edna's apartment is depicted as being across the street from the 17th Precinct - which was and is on East 51st Street - on the east side of midtown Manhattan. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

[first lines]
Edna Bartelli: Why, it's Sleepy Parsons. Aren't you dead yet?
[Sleepy takes out a cigar, Edna pours a drink]
Edna Bartelli: Here's to nothin'. Still on your twenty cigars a day?
[Sleepy puts cigar away]
Edna Bartelli: Can your heart take it, Sleepy?
Sleepy Parsons: You drunk again?
Edna Bartelli: Yes.
Sleepy Parsons: Took you a long time to answer the door.
Edna Bartelli: [laughs] It's a great relief being divorced from you, Sleepy, dear.
[...]
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 secondtakeSee 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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