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Date with Death (1959)

| Crime | June 1959 (USA)
A Hobo thrown off a train assumes the identity of a big-city police detective, found by him dead, and is assigned to rid an isolated desert town of big-time racketeers.


Harold Daniels


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Gerald Mohr ... Mike Mason / Louis Deverman
Liz Renay ... Paula Warren
Robert Clarke ... Joe Emmanuel
Stephanie Farnay Stephanie Farnay ... Edie Dale
Harry Lauter ... Lt. George Caddell
Ed Erwin Ed Erwin ... Det. Lt. Art Joslin
Lew Markman Lew Markman ... Nicky Potter - Chief Thug
Ray Dearholt Ray Dearholt ... Sam - Jailer
Kenne Duncan ... Andrews - Freight-Train Watchman
Tony Redman Tony Redman ... Mayor Jerome Langlie
Frank Bellew Frank Bellew ... Roy Waylin
William Purdy William Purdy ... George Huber
Bob Wallace Bob Wallace ... Hotel Manager
Bob Lilly Jr. Bob Lilly Jr. ... Miltie - Tobacconist
Dorothy Hardcastle Dorothy Hardcastle ... Angie - Miltie's Daughter


A Hobo thrown off a train assumes the identity of a big-city police detective, found by him dead, and is assigned to rid an isolated desert town of big-time racketeers.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


You Can't See It, but You Feel the TERROR. A Living Dead Man Only a Few Hours From the Grave... in a town where no woman is safe!! See more »









Release Date:

June 1959 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Blood of the Man Devil See more »

Filming Locations:

Roswell, New Mexico, USA


Box Office

Gross USA:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


Like My World Dies Screaming (1958), from the same producer, the film contained messages flashed up for a split second to add an extra subliminal shudder. The process was generally disregarded but has been used on a limited basis in The Exorcist (1973) and Fight Club (1999). See more »


Edited into Experiments in Terror (2003) See more »


Music by Darrell Calker
Lyrics by 'Jules Fox'
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User Reviews

an undiscovered gem of a small-town crime film, Gerald Mohr is once again the model of a hard-boiled leading man
15 February 2005 | by django-1See all my reviews

The few notices about this film that I've read comment on the "Psychorama" process of subliminal messages/images used in the film (also used in the previous film by director Daniels/writer Dennis/ and star Mohr called TERROR IN THE HAUNTED HOUSE, aka My World Dies Screaming). Perhaps those were edited out of the old 16mm TV print my video was taken from, but I didn't notice anything different. However, forgetting that gimmick, this is a fantastic crime film which deserves to be well-known. The plot has been used before in westerns--someone (Tim McCoy perhaps) would wander into a small town and be mistaken for the new sheriff, and then act as if he were that sheriff and clean the town out of corruption. I haven't seen it before in a hard-boiled crime film, but it fits well here. I found the first fifteen minutes of the film--as star Gerald Mohr rides a train trying to get to L.A., is thrown off it by railroad cop Kenne Duncan, stumbles across an abandoned car, takes the car and assumes the driver's identity, and then walks into an unexpected welcome in a small town run by vice lord Robert Clarke (in a role that must have been fun to play--unfortunately, Clarke devotes only a few lines to this film in his excellent autobiography)--completely gripping. I was on the edge of my seat, wondering if Mohr would be "found out." Even after that element is resolved, the plot continues in such an outrageous way that is played in a totally straight, believable manner, I was riveted. The photography (according to Clarke's autobiography, this was shot in Roswell, New Mexico, but not knowing that I'd think it was somewhere in California's "inland empire") is superb and captures the small town world of diners and small merchants and vast open spaces beautifully. The supporting actors, some of whom seem like locals (Sam the jailer, played by Ray Dearhorn, comes across as a very lifelike and sympathetic man, and the actors who play the mayor and the hotel owner who hassles Liz Renay both seem like people who were not professional film actors but were well-cast in their roles), are perfect examples of the types found in the small towns in which I've lived. As the cocky Lt. who resents Mohr being chief of police, Harry Lauter (an actor with many excellent credits in westerns and crime films, and who also starred in KING OF THE CARNIVAL, one of the last Republic serials, where he acted opposite Robert Clarke) does a fine job, capturing the brashness and condescending quality of the man who is the big fish in the small pond. This also is one of the few REAL lead dramatic roles I've ever seen Liz Renay in, and she is fantastic. She often was used in smaller roles for name value, but here she is the female lead, and she is seductive, charming, warm, and everything a b-crime-movie leading lady needs to be. She also sings well, although we don't need to hear the "Flim Flam" song three times! As for Gerald Mohr, I've always considered him one of the great hard-boiled leading men, both on radio (where he played Phillip Marlowe) and in film. Here he is both tough and sympathetic, yet initially mysterious. He brings much depth to a role that many would have just walked through. For the fan of low-budget 1950s crime films (such as the ones made by Allied Artists or Columbia's b-unit), DATE WITH DEATH should be a must-see. With a fine jazz score, great location photography, an exciting plot, and some genuinely surprising twists and turns, DATE WITH DEATH does not need any subliminal gimmicks to be a model b-crime film. I give it ten stars out of ten. I've watched the film seven times in the last five years, and I still enjoy it and get caught up in the situation. Someone should restore the film and put it out on DVD for all to enjoy.

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