Frank Bigelow (Edmond O'Brien, you may remember him as Winston Smith in `1984' 1956) realizes after he had a one night fling that he does not feel so good. He feels bad enough to see a doctor. Yep he is D.O.A. (Dead On Arrival) as he has been poisoned and only has a little time left to live.
Obsessed with finding out who did it and why, Frank has to reconstruct his wild night. Will he find out in time? If so what then?
Forget the 'famous' Dunkirk tracking scene in Atonement; here is a fine tracking shot at the start of this brilliant 1950 classic noir DOA. This scene of this movie is justly famous; Frank Bigelow (the excellent Edmond O'Brien)walks into a police station saying he wishes to report a murder -his own. The movie then goes into flashback mode and we witness the events that brought about his predicament and his tracing of the killer who poisoned Bigelow with a slow acting poison. It is a clever story and kudos should be bestowed upon the writers Clarence Greene and Russell Rouse for the ingenious plot .
This is O'Brien's movie and he is rarely absent from the screen. He does a superb job of holding things together displaying what an under-rated actor he was. Rudolph Mate's direction is exemplary.
I WOULD HAVE GIVEN THIS FILM 5 STARS BUT FOR THE DISAPPOINTING PICTURE QUALITY. HAVING SEEN IT BEFORE ON THE TV I SEEM TO REMEMBER IT BEING MUCH SHARPER. NEVERTHELESS, THIS IS A GREAT STORY - VERY UNUSUAL AND GRIPPING RIGHT TO THE END. THE FILM GOES AT A BREATHTAKING PACE AND EDMUND O'BRIEN PLAYS A GREAT PART. FOR ME HE IS A VERY UNDER-RATED ACTOR AND HE HAS BEEN SUPERB IN ALL THE FILMS I HAVE SEEN HIM IN.
The film, noir "D.O.A." received unenthusiastic reviews upon its release in 1950. With the passage of time, the film's reputation increased until it became regarded as a noir classic. In 2004, the film was added to the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress as "historically, culturally, or aesthetically significant."
"D.O.A." tells the story of Frank Bigelow (Edmond O'Brien) who has been murdered by poison. When doctors tell Bigelow he has only days to live, he sets out on a frantic, determined course to find his killer.
Bigelow's life becomes meaningful only when he faces the certainty of his impending death. He had been an accountant in a small town who drank heavily and who flirted incessantly with whatever pretty woman came his way. He had a lovely lady friend, Paula, (Pamela Britton) but was unsure of his feelings for her. When Bigelow took a vacation to San Francisco to drink and flirt, he was poisoned. He realized at last his feelings for Paula and he found meaning in determining and finding his killer before he died.
The story of the murder, the motive, and Bigelow's investigation is told frenetically as befitting a person on the verge of dying and in a sense already dead.. The main attractions of the film are the cinematography, the development of the primary character, and the tough acting. The film features a long group of villains in addition to the killers.
The story is told as a flashback as, in the opening scene, Bigelow walks down the long cold hallway of the Los Angeles police station to report his own murder. This opening scene is famous as is the scene in a San Francisco jazz club called the Fishermen. This is where Bigelow meets his doom, but the film also offers an early view of the "bop" driving jazz culture that was part of the Beat movement at the time. The cinematography also features angular scenes of San Francisco and Los Angeles streets, gangster hideaways, and bars.
The film is based on an original screenplay by Russell Rouse and Clarence Greene. It portrays well how death sometimes leads people to understand themselves and to live. Lovers of film noir will enjoy this film which is in the public domain and accessible online.
I have to say before I begin that I this film was in my brothers collection and I watched it on a rainy day, it turned out to be one of the greatest afternoons and has launched me on a giant film noir quest. I loved the fact that the ideas in the film were new and fresh, Frank Bigelow heads out to San Francisco for a holiday but becomes mysteriously poisoned and finds out he only has 48 hours left to live. So Frank turns from accountant to detective in order to find out his murdered before he dies. Needless to say you are with Frank for every step of the way, and this film really keeps you on the edge of your seat every second. With none of special effects from today's Hollywood the film is much more connective with you. Basically this film is a must see even if are normally a blockbuster type of person.
Now this is the one to watch. . . I have recently watched the remake and it wasn't too bad in parts, but it really cannot compare with this B&W original. It starts slowly, but begins to pile on the tension and mystery pretty quick and maintains it thoughout. There was no need for swearing or stupid inuendo to keep the youngsters amused, (like the remake). It relys on good story telling and fine acting. Shop around though, as this later release is a bit pricy.
Frank Bigelow is in San Francisco for a break away from his fiancée, after a night on the town he wakes up and feels a bit under the weather, after consulting a doctor he is told he has been poisoned by a luminous toxin and only has a few days to live. This sets Frank off on a furious journey to find out who is responsible, and why?
Thus is the story of this cracking mystery thriller, Edmond O'Brien is Bigelow and layers it perfectly, from Frank's calm soaking in of the events to the frantic slam bangery as he draws closer to his goals, it's a great show. The pace is perfect from director Rudolph Maté as he eases us gently thru the first third, and then ups the pace to keep us alive to the fraught nature of Bigelow's plight. Genuine menace drops into the picture in the form of Neville Brand's hit-man Chester, whilst Pamela Briton as Paula Gibson is a solid female presence in amongst the grimy feel of the story.
This 1950 film noir directed by legendary cinematographer Rudolph Maté (he of Dreyer and Welles fame) is a fast-moving, edge-of the-seat, rather original tale of one man's (Edmond O'Brien's Frank Bigelow) fight to find a murderer (his murderer!) before he succumbs to the effects of the deadly poison with which his drink has been laced. And what is, for me, most surprising is that despite the fact that Maté's film is overly melodramatic and cliché-ridden (yes, I know that is one of the key trademarks of this film genre), to the extent that it is almost impossible to take it seriously, it still manages to carry you along with it (for me, at least, with a big grin of astonishment on my face).
Topped and tailed with a flavour of Billy Wilder's masterpiece Double Indemnity, as having identified himself to questioning police as a murder victim, Bigelow recalls in flashback his sorry tale and Maté's film sets in train a plot so convoluted as to make The Big Sleep look like an episode of Coronation Street, whereby, following a business trip to San Francisco (and a 'hip' and 'jiving' jazz club), Frank discovers himself suffering from luminous poisoning (courtesy of a mickey at the night club), and thereafter starts to uncover a plot involving an underhand transaction for the purchase of iridium (to which Frank was 'party' via his auditing business). We then get shots of O'Brien running through the San Francisco streets (for some reason) to Dimitri Tiomkin's rousing score, some evocative night-time shots courtesy of cinematographer Ernest Laszlo and our hero being rebuffed at every turn in his pursuit of his 'murderer'. Along the way we are also treated to some man on woman violence, as Frank restrains Beverly Garland's Miss Foster in his quest, whilst each of Luther Adler's smooth gangster Majak and his henchman Neville Brand's Chester (brandishing an impressive set of choppers) exude appropriate levels of menace.
By the time Frank's 'girlfriend' Pamela Britton's Paula has found her way to 'Frisco, and her beloved has found time (whilst being on the verge of death) to ask, 'Is that a new outfit?', we discover that the actual baddie is the bloke who double-crossed the main bloke's wife's second cousin,.... (you get the picture), before our hero (who, by the way, has been looking uncannily like Tony Hancock for the film's duration) finds himself standing toe to toe with the 'murderer' for what is an impressive final denouement on the stairs. And even though the film's closing shot is of a bizarre caption to the effect that Technical Adviser, Edward F. Dunne, M.D. assures us that the 'medical facts in this motion picture are authentic', and that D.O.A. was never going to rival the likes of Double Indemnity, The Maltese Falcon, Out Of The Past, etc to the 'noir crown', we realise that we've just witnessed an intoxicating cinematic rollercoaster of a ride for the last 80 minutes or so!