Re-watching the Classics: Deadline at Dawn

Deadline at Dawn is a classic film noir from 1946 directed by Harold Clurman, the one and only film he directed. This film is based on a book by William Irish. If that name does not sound familiar it is because it is the pseudonym of Cornell Woolrich.

The film’s story starts with a meeting between a blind man and a woman, played by Lola Lane. We then find our main protagonist waking up in a news stand. Bill Williams plays our protagonist who isn’t sure where he is or how he got there. The clerk at the stand hands him a wad of cash. He doesn’t know where the cash came from, but starts looking into this mystery. He is also shipping out for World War II the next morning at 6. He goes to a dance hall and he hits it off with a dancer at the dance hall played by Susan Hayward. She feels sorry for the young man who is in the Navy just like her brother. They go to an apartment where they find a dead body of the woman who was talking to the blind man at the beginning of the film. Our protagonist who cannot remember what happened does not think he killed the woman, but would be the only suspect if the body is found. The couple decide to try to solve the murder themselves before our sailor has to ship out at 6 A.M.. Along the way a cab driver decides to help the couple, being a sucker for young love, he is played by Paul Lukas. We also meet the dead woman’s brother played by Joseph Calleia, who wants revenge for his dead sister, as well as a host of other characters found in the city that never sleeps, including a fat, drunk baseball player named “Babe” Dooley(I wonder who he is inspired by?) who finds the dead body.

This film is a pretty good classic film noir, worth your time. It is a bit hard to follow in places and maybe a bit far-fetched. It is entertaining and Susan Hayward seems to always be worth watching.