After a night out on the town in San Francisco, Frank Bigelow 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.
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"D.O.A. employs some of the most devious twists and turns the genre has ever known to deliver a film that almost drowns in its bleak nihilism and tortuous labyrinthine complexity." -James Travers, FrenchFilms.org. Mate, O'Brien, Brand killed it.
Had been a lot of years since last seeing this one and frankly it was far better in memory than the visit today. Once considered a classic of film noir the film now seems a touch over baked and often corny. Don't fault O'Brien in the lead who is quite good but just the scripting. Director Mate has far better films in the resume from when he was a cinematographer.
By introducing the main dilemma in the first scene and then rewinding to before that dilemma actually comes into play, the film inadvertently diminishes the first third since the audience will now pay less attention to the relationships and will instead impatiently await for the reintroduction of the problem. This is a shame since the 2 thirds that follow are some of the most fatalistic and explosive of any noir film
The main title sequence is a brilliant example for the absorbing effect of a well-considered congruence between music and body/camera movement: Bigelow marching through the corridors of the police department in perfect coordination with the music of Dimitri Tiomkin and - at last - slowing down (like the music does) just before entering the homicide office.
A very clever storyline and an excellent performance from Edmond O'Brien as Frank Bigalow. This is vastly superior to the 1988 remake starring Dennis Quaid and Meg Ryan. However, the wolf whistle side effects used while Frank is staying in San Francisco were not only irritating and totally unnecessary but they also detracted from the atmosphere of the film.