D.O.A. (1950)



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Movie Info

Frank Bigelow (Edmond O'Brien), a certified public accountant, goes on vacation in San Francisco. Awakening after a night of drinking, Frank feels sick and is informed by a doctor that he is suffering from "iridium" poisoning and has only a few days to live. Determined to find his killer, and aided by his secretary and fiancé Paula (Pamela Britton), Frank traces a shipment of iridium which he notarized to Los Angeles. Arriving in Los Angeles, Frank finds the killers, and, after a thrilling chase, kills them, later telling his story to the police. Told entirely in flashbacks -- with the unusual perspective of a murder victim functioning as his own detective, combined with the arbitrary nature of the motive and the circumstances leading to his poisoning -- D.O.A. is an unusually cynical, memorable film. Directed by Rudolph Mate, the film is fast-paced and suspenseful. The use of jazz music, combined with intense close-ups of the musicians, adds to the chaotic, claustrophobic feeling of the film. Edmond O'Brien is excellent as an ordinary man doomed by circumstance and trapped in a nightmare world.

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Critic Reviews for D.O.A.

All Critics (24) | Top Critics (3)

Mate's direction of the first portion of the story lingers too long over it, spreading the expectancy very thin, but when he does launch his suspense-building it comes over with a solid wallop.

Mar 26, 2009 | Full Review…
Top Critic

Incidental pleasures include a bevy of suspiciously beautiful women... the wide lapels and fedoras favored by the heavies, and the ''in'' talk of the period, featuring words like ''hip,'' ''jive'' and ''kicks.''

Mar 25, 2006 | Full Review…

Maté shoots fast and always to the point as he drives his protagonist through endless doorways and rooms which are like trapdoors and boxes in an accelerating nightmare.

Jan 26, 2006 | Full Review…
Time Out
Top Critic

...an underwhelming thriller that could and should have fared so much better.

Oct 27, 2015 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…

[VIDEO ESSAY] A high-concept movie before there was such a thing, "D.O.A." foreshadowed the poisoning of (possibly) Yasser Arafat and (definitely) Alexander Litvinenko - via polonium-210 - by a half-century.

Apr 27, 2014 | Rating: A- | Full Review…

Sweltering Borgesian fantasy

Feb 4, 2010 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for D.O.A.

1950, when this noir was made, was a long time ago (nearly 70 years as of this writing). The wolf whistles played whenever a pretty woman's onscreen (which I first suspected were included after the fact of the filming by some internet prankster), Neville Brand's over-the-top "I'm a craaa-zzzzy psycho" routine, much here seems dated now, but the suspense of watching a dead man search for his killer still packs a wallop. And makes for a good movie experience.

Kevin M. Williams
Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer


"I want to report a murder." "Who was murdered?" "I was." One of the great "grabber" openings in movie history doesn't disappoint, leading to a tense and fatalistic noir about a poisoned accountant searching for his own killer.

Greg S
Greg S

Super Reviewer

Frank Bigelow is an accountant living on borrowed time. Someone has slipped luminous toxin into his bourbon and now he has just a few days to solve his own murder. D.O.A. is over-acted, over-scripted and under-appreciated. An absolute delight!

Randy Tippy
Randy Tippy

Super Reviewer

An extremely exciting, suspenseful movie, a really good movie.

Aj V
Aj V

Super Reviewer

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