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Sunday, November 6, 2011

D.O.A. (1950)

A man (Edmond O'Brien) stumbles into a Los Angeles police station and states that he wants to report a murder. When queried what murder, he responds "Mine". The film then flashbacks to O'Brien's San Francisco holiday when after a night of revelry, he falls ill and goes to a hospital where he is told he's been terminally poisoned. Determined, he spends his final hours trying to find out who murdered him and why. Barely noticed in its original release, this fast paced little noir has acquired a sterling reputation in the ensuing years. Directed by Rudolph Mate from a tight little screenplay by Russell Rouse and Clarence Greene, its compelling premise goes a long way in forgiving some of the film's more florid moments. Principally, the character of O'Brien's secretary (Pamela Britton, TV's MY FAVORITE MARTIAN) who comes across as an annoying clinging vine and has the brunt of the film's most mawkish dialogue ("I've never known love until I met you"). Her scenes with O'Brien aside, this is a frenetically paced noir. Dimitri Tiomkin provided the relatively subdued (for him) score. With Beverly Garland, Luther Adler, William Ching, Neville Brand (who overdoes his psycho henchman) and Laurette Luez.

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