Film Notes: D.O.A. (1950) directed by Rudolph Maté

USA / 83 minute/ bw / Cardinal Pictures, United Artists Dir: Rudolph Maté. Pro: Leo C. Popkin, Harry M. Popkin (executive), and Joseph H. Nadel (associate). Scr: Russell Rouse and Clarence Greene Cine: Ernest Lazlo Mus: Dimitri Tiomkin Cast: Edmond O’Brien (Frank Bigelow), Pamela Britton (Paula Gibson), Luther Adler (Majak), Beverly Campbell (Miss Foster), Lynn Baggett (Mrs. Philips), William Ching (Halliday), Henry Hart (Stanley Philips), Neville Brand (Chester), Laurette Luez (Marla Rakubian), Larry Dobkin (Dr. Schaefer), Frank Jaquet (Dr. Matson), Frank Gerstle (Dr. MacDonald).

Summary plot: In Los Angeles, Frank Bigelow enters a police station to report that he was poisoned the previous night in San Francisco and will soon die. Upon questioning by the police chief, Frank recounts the events that led him to this fateful moment: Two days earlier in Banning, California, Frank, a notary and tax consultant, bids farewell to his secretary and girl friend, Paula Gibson, departing for a short vacation to San Francisco. When Frank arrives at his hotel, Paula telephones to tell him that Eugene Philips, of Philips’ Import and Exporting Company, urgently needs to speak with him and refuses to leave a message. That evening Sam Haskell, a guest in the room opposite Frank’s, invites him to a party which eventually ends up at a bar on the Embarcadero. In the bar, Frank leaves his drink momentarily unattended and a shadowy figures replaces it with another without Frank’s knowledge. Frank drinks from the glass, noticing a strange taste, but nothing more. The next morning Frank feels vaguely ill and is eventually disturbed enough to go to a medical center for an examination. After several tests, the doctor informs Frank he has ingested a fatal amount of luminous toxic poison that will kill him in the next few days. (Read full summary at American Film Institute here) Release Date: 30 April 1950.

D.O.A., a film noir drama film directed by Rudolph Maté, is considered a classic of the genre. Leo C. Popkin produced D.O.A. for his short-lived Cardinal Pictures. Due to a filing error the copyright to the film was not renewed on time, causing it to fall into the public domain. The Internet Movie Database shows that 22 companies offer the VHS or DVD versions, and the Internet Archive offers an online version. (Source: Wikipedia)

Although it was only a B-movie, with second line performers and a low budget, D.O.A. (1950) still stacks up today as one of the truly classic films noir. The reason for its lasting appeal can be attributed to the way D.O.A. plumbs the extreme depths of the film noir aesthetic. To a certain extent we could say that it exposes the dark horror of this netherworld like almost no other film. D.O.A. was directed by Rudolph Maté, who had established himself over the years as a distinguished cinematographer and had worked behind the camera on three of Carl Dreyer’s classic, highly atmospheric films: Michael (1924), The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928), and Vampyr (1932). The star of the film, Edmund O’Brien, was no stranger to the film noir genre, having appeared earlier in The Killers (1946) and White Heat (1949). For all their successes on other film sets, though, D.O.A. was definitely the high-water mark for the careers of both men. (Read full review at The Film Sufi here)

Reading Plan Through The End of Year

Everyone loves lists and, as we get closer to the year end, it is usual practice to highlight the best books that one has read during the year. But the year is not over yet and I’m sure there are many excellent books that have been published this year but for whatever reason have not fallen on my radar. The lists that follows are just a reminder of those books that I’m planning to read in the coming weeks, those books I’m looking forward to reading in the early months of the next year, and the books I’ve read this year which are worth highlighting in my view. If, at the same time, it can be of any help for your Christmas gifts, then all the better. I have limited myself to those books that have been published in 2015.

Over the coming weeks and until the end of the year I’m planning to read the following titles on my TBR files: 

  1. No Other Darkness, by Sarah Hilary
  2. The Caveman, by Jørn Lier Horst
  3. Little Black Lies, by Sharon Bolton
  4. The Defence, by Steve Cavanagh
  5. After the Crash, by Michel Bussi
  6. The Missing and the Dead, by Stuart MacBride


Other titles published in 2015 but so far on my wish list:

  1. Tell No Tales, by Eva Dolan 
  2. The Ghost Fields, by Elly Griffiths 
  3. The Shut Eye, by Belinda Bauer
  4. A Devil Under the Skin, by Anya Lipska
  5. Blood, Salt, Water, by Denise Mina 
  6. The Body Snatcher, by Patricia Melo
  7. Smoke and Mirrors, by Elly Griffiths 
  8. The Chosen, by Kristina Ohlsson 
  9. The Drowned Boy, by Karin Fossum
  10. Tin Sky, by Ben Pastor


  1. Those We Left Behind, by Stuart Neville
  2. Even the Dead, by Benjamin Black
  3. Oblivion, by Arnaldur Indridason 
  4. The Voices Beyond, by Johan Theorin 
  5. The Crossing, by Michael Connelly 
  6. Even Dogs in the Wild, by Ian Rankin 
  7. Icarus, by Deon Meyer 
  8. Game of Mirrors, by Andrea Camilleri
  9. Blade of Light, by Andrea Camilleri
  10. The Great Swindle, by Pierre Lemaitre


Last, but not least, some great books published in 2015 that I have read so far and deserve to be highlighted (in no particular order):

  1. Arab Jazz, by Karim Miské 
  2. Gun Street Girl, by Adrian McKinty
  3. Snowblind, by Ragnar Jonasson. My review will soon be ready.
  4. In Bitter Chill, by Sarah Ward 
  5. The Defenceless, by Kati Hiekkapelto 
  6. We Shall Inherit the Wind, by Gunnar Staalesen. My review will soon be ready 
  7. Camille, by Pierre Lemaitre
  8. Summerchill, by Quentin Bates
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