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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.

Director:

Rudolph Maté

Writers:

Russell Rouse (story and screenplay), Clarence Greene (story and screenplay) | 2 more credits »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Edmond O'Brien ... Frank Bigelow
Pamela Britton ... Paula Gibson
Luther Adler ... Majak
Beverly Garland ... Miss Foster (as Beverly Campbell)
Lynn Baggett ... Mrs. Philips
William Ching ... Halliday
Henry Hart Henry Hart ... Stanley Philips
Neville Brand ... Chester
Laurette Luez ... Marla Rakubian
Jess Kirkpatrick ... Sam
Cay Forester ... Sue (as Cay Forrester)
Frank Jaquet ... Dr. Matson (as Fred Jaquet)
Lawrence Dobkin ... Dr. Schaefer (as Larry Dobkin)
Frank Gerstle ... Dr. MacDonald
Carol Hughes ... 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:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

21 April 1950 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Dead on Arrival See more »

Company Credits

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

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 »

Goofs

In the bar, the glass changes positions on the bar relative to the man with the checkered coat. It goes from behind his arm to in front of his elbow. 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 »

Alternate Versions

Also available in a colorized version. See more »

Connections

Referenced in A Photo of Me (2017) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

 
D.O.A.: A convoluted mystery that gradually builds to a frenetic pace.
22 September 2006 | by RJBurke1942See all my reviews

Fans of film noir should see this one, as this film is up there with the best.

It's a story about how a simple act can lead to disaster – in this case, death. If you've not seen it, I'm not about to tell you much except this: it has perhaps the most imaginative beginning for any murder mystery ever devised as Frank Bigelow (Edmond O'Brien) fronts up to the Homicide Bureau in Los Angeles to report a murder – his own! Thereafter, the story traces Frank's attempts to find out who is trying to kill him, and why. One of the best pieces of irony is when, having learnt that he will die soon, Frank runs and runs until he's out of breath and stops, panting, beside a newsstand where there are multiple copies of Life magazine hanging there, just beside him. The director, Rudolph Mate, had a real insider joke with that shot.

And that long tracking shot, by the way, was an excellent example of how to use fast camera work and great editing.

On another level, the movie very much fits the times vis-à-vis the portrayal of evil and where it leads: retribution is always just around the corner for those who transgress society, even if you think you're justified. When you see this movie, you'll know what I mean.

And, for the times, the acting was good, with a standout performance from Edmond O'Brien, and ably supported by the ever-competent Luther Adler (as Majak, the sharp dealer in stolen goods), and Neville Brand, as the psychopathic Chester. The rest of the cast was adequate. The only jarring note (no pun intended) are the peculiar and bizarre wolf-whistles (inserted by some demented sound engineer?) that accompany Frank Bigelow as he looks at women in his hotel at San Francisco. What was the director thinking of...?

That aside, it's a good, fast-paced action mystery that helped to keep the film noir genre very much alive. Have a go...


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