“Sit down. Where was this murder committed?”
“San Francisco, last night.”
“Who was murdered?”
” I was.”
Maybe the greatest opening dialog in noir history. D.O.A. is a classic film noir from 1950 directed by Rudolph Maté who was a director and cinematographer for many great noir films through out his career. Edmond O’Brien plays our protagonist Frank Bigalow who runs across many characters in this film, from a needy girl friend to a blonde at the end of the bar, to shady business men and a few doctors, police and a thug or two. The story is a simple one but an original one. Frank has to get away and goes to San Francisco on a small vacation. He arrives at his hotel and joins a group of salesmen for a fun night on the town. He gets a call from his girlfriend/secretary about somebody trying to get a hold of him. He doesn’t recognize the name and figures it’s nothing. After his night out he wakes up in the morning not feeling well. He goes to the doctor and finds he has been poisoned. There is no cure and he has only a day or two to live. He uses his time left to hunt down who murdered him and why. This is such an interesting plot device that it has been remade and reworked a number of times. The film was remade twice, once as Color Me Dead in 1969(I have not seen this) and D.O.A. in 1988(I have seen this, but it has been years, I hope to re-watch it and review it later). The “I’ve been murdered and only have x amount of time to find the killer” plot has been done in such movies as Crank and to a certain extent in Zift as well. Though this plot has been redone in one form or another many times, this original movie is still the best of the bunch. This is a film who classic film buffs as well as film noir fans will both find satisfying. It’s a fun ride and if you think about it, what would you do, if you found out you only have a few days to live?