Starring Edmond O’Brien, Pamela Britton, Luther Adler, William Ching, Laurette Luez, Neville Brand, Lynn Baggett
(7-Very Good Film)
Intriguing. Convoluted. Melodramatic.
Homicide Captain: Who was murdered?
Frank Bigelow: I was.
I’m glad to find, reading other reviews of noir classic D.O.A, that I’m not the only one that had a hard time following the plot. Several characters flow in and out, there are red herrings, and key players are mentioned but never seen. I couldn’t keep up, but that didn’t keep me from enjoying the film. All you really need to know is that an average man, Frank Bigelow (O’Brien), goes on a business trip to San Francisco, spends the first night out on the town, wakes up the next morning feeling funny, and, upon visiting a doctor, is told that he’s been poisoned and has a couple days left to live. Film experts refer to these kinds of plot devices as ticking bombs. They give movies an important time element and are invaluable to good suspense. D.O.A has one of the best time bombs of any movie I’ve seen. Bigelow has to solve his own murder and get revenge before he keels over. You might think that too much of the dialogue is heavily melodramatic, but I like melodrama in noir. It serves as a nice counterbalance to the otherwise dark tales and this one follows through. No cop-out in the end.
-Walter Tyrone Howard-