December 23, 2004

"I'd like to report a murder. Mine."

Before I get into the movie review, I want to tell you to get over any bias against WalMart and check out their DVD collections. Up near the registers they've taken to putting out boxes of $1.00 DVD's, and there are some minor classics in the mix. This movie is one of them, and I've got several more in the stack to be watched in the near-future.

D.O.A. Starring Edmond O'Brien, this 1950 film noir release is about as good as it gets.

The plot is intriguing: a man on vacation is poisoned and will die within a week. In that time, he tries to discover who poisoned him and why.

Parts of this flick are sheer brilliance, while others are... let's say less brilliant. Things move along quickly, and I wouldn't be surprised if this film were at least indirectly the inspiration for the series 24.

Because of the pace and complexity of the plot, most characters flash in and out of the picture, sometimes returning later, sometimes never to be seen again. There's enough going on that I'm going to rewatch it and take some notes to tie up some loose ends in my mind. The film is good enough that doing that isn't going to be a chore, it'll be pure pleasure.

Since the movie is set in the 1940's, men are tough guys and gals are dames. A lot of the acting is broad and overdone, especially one love scene between the main characters that just drags on and on and on.

The relentless pace of the story masks a lot of odd leaps of logic and believability, which helps because there's little time to reflect on the "huh?" moments. One bit that defies understanding is an odd slide-whistle "wolf call" that's used every time the main character sees a good looking dame. It's presence is senseless and distracting and goes onto my top-10 list of stupid movie moments. What the hell was the director thinking?

There's no happy ending, if there were it wouldn't be film noir. All in all this is a satisfying little film and well worth the buck you'll spend to snag a copy.

Pamela Britton plays O'Brien's girlfriend, and she later played Dagwood's wife Blondie in the television series and the landlady in My Favorite Martian.

Beverly Garland, credited as Beverly Campbell, made her debut in D.O.A. and continues to be active both in movies and television to this day. She later went on to star in the TV series My Three Sons and most recently in recurring rolls in 7th Heaven and Port Charles.

Actor Nevil Brand also made his movie debut in D.O.A. as Chester the sociopathic thug. With his chilling performance, he stole every scene he was in and went on to a successful career playing tough guys including Al Capone on television's The Untouchables. Brand originally intended to make the Army his career and emerged as the fourth most-decorated US Soldier in WWII. He caught the acting bug while making US Army training films and used his GI Bill to study acting after his discharge.

Posted by Ted at December 23, 2004 11:37 AM | TrackBack

Beverly Garland is in D.O.A.? Cool! I'll have to check it out! *Loved* her in Gunslinger and It Conquered the World...both Roger Corman "classics."

Posted by: Victor at December 23, 2004 04:19 PM

If Nevil Brand-an actor I have always liked in anything he has appeared- is the fourth most decorated WWII vet and Audie Murphy- not that shabby on the silver screen- is the most decorated, then who are second and third?

Posted by: Paul Phillips at December 25, 2004 10:58 PM

Onclo Airhart was the second most decorated soldier in WWII. He was best friends with Audie
Murphy and volunteered each time Audie went on a mission.

Posted by: David Sutherlin at April 12, 2005 07:10 AM
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