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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.



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

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Cast overview, first billed only:
... Frank Bigelow
... Paula Gibson
... Majak
... Miss Foster (as Beverly Campbell)
... Mrs. Philips
... Halliday
Henry Hart ... Stanley Philips
... Chester
... Marla Rakubian
... Sam
... Sue (as Cay Forrester)
... Dr. Matson (as Fred Jaquet)
... Dr. Schaefer (as Larry Dobkin)
... Dr. MacDonald
... Kitty


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:

21 April 1950 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Dead on Arrival  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show more on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The failure of the original copyright holder to renew the film's copyright resulted in it falling into public domain, meaning that virtually anyone could duplicate and sell a VHS/DVD copy of the film. Therefore, many of the versions of this film available on the market are either severely (and usually badly) edited and/or of extremely poor quality, having been duped from second- or third-generation (or more) copies of the film. See more »


At 21:10, the amount in Frank's glass is less than when seen at 21:45. He did not ask the bartender for more. 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 »


Referenced in La Strada (1954) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

The waking dead
21 July 2010 | by See all my reviews

**SPOILERS** Staggering into a L.A police station barely alive Frank Bigelow, Edmound O'Brien, has a story to tell about a murder that he witnessed, his own! It all happened two days ago when Bigelow was straying in San Francisco on vacation from his job as a tax accountant during Market Week. At the Fisherman Club Bigelow got a bit juiced up and during drinks he was slipped a dose of luminous toxin in his glass. It's that toxin that's now on the verge of killing him. The reason that he was poisoned had to do with him notarizing a bill of sale for a shipment of iridium that was stolen and could put the person who shipped it behind bars for at least five years!

It took a while for Bigelow to realize that he had a fatal dose of luminous toxin in his system and by the time he did it was too late to save his life. But it wasn't too late for Bigelow to track down and find the person or persons who had him poisoned. And it's during the rest of the movie, in flashback, that's exactly what he did! And did it with an unrelenting fury as if his life depended on it!

In what is undoubtedly Edmound O'Brien's best role as Frank "Biggie" Bigeow the film "D.O.A" has him move heaven and earth to find the person who eventually murdered him. From San Francisco to Los Angeles as well as parts in between Bigelow finally track him down to the Philips Inport-Export office at the Bradbury Building in downtown L.A. It in fact was Philips who was murdered, by being thrown to his death, because of the illegal iridium shipment that he later realized he was tricked into handling. With Philips dead the only person who could connect both his murderer and the person whom he shipped the iridium for is Frank Bigelow who handled, by notarizing the bill of sale, the shipment!

Non stop action thriller as a dying, or murdered, man turns L.A upside down in trying to find his killer and exact punishment on him before he himself expires! Bigelow also gets involved with L.A mobster Majak, Luther Adler, whom the illegal iridium was delivered for. In knowing about Majak's involvement in it had Bigelow targeted by him and his sadistic and unstable hit man Chester, Naville Brand, for immediate termination. That's if the luminous toxin doesn't kill him first!

Even though the movie is a scant 83 minutes long it packs enough action to fill some half dozen films of it's type: Film Noir Thrillers. Frank Bigelow is a man who knows that he hasn't long to live and therefore throws caution to the wind in trying to find his killer before the curtain comes down on him. It was in fact that almost suicidal determination on Bigelow's part that in the end brought him results!

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