Classic Cinema: D.O.A. (1950) – By Jason S. Lockard

My Name is Jason S. Lockard and I love Classic Cinema! This month we’re taking a look at a classic noir film, directed by Rudolph Mate and starring Edmond O’Brien. As The film poster states, "A picture as excitingly different as it’s title!" and for the time it was, but before we get into the film let’s take a look at the star of the month Edmond O’Brien.

Edmond O’Brien was born in New York, New York on September 10, 1915 of Irish heritage. O’Brien made his debut on film in 1938 as an extra in the film Prison Break! He would gradually build his career as a highly regarded supporting actor. The Killers (1946), The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962), Birdman of Alcatraz (1962), Fantastic Voyage (1966), and The Wild Bunch (1969) are just a few of the great films he had a role in. In 1950 Edmond O’Brien took the lead role in Leo C. Popkin produced the film D.O.A. for his short-lived Cardinal Pictures.

In the film opens with O’Brien playing Frank Bigelow an accountant and notary public from Banning California staggering into a police station to report his own murder! He begins to tell his story of how he decides to take a one week vacation alone in San Francisco, which doesn’t set well with his secretary/girlfriend Paula Britton. Bigelow accompanies a group from a sales convention on a night on the town. He ends up at a jazz club where, unnoticed by him, a stranger swaps his drink for another.

The next morning, Bigelow feels ill. He visits a doctor, where tests reveal he has swallowed a "luminous toxin" for which there is no antidote. A second opinion confirms the grim diagnosis, and the other doctor implies that the poisoning must have been deliberate. With at most a few days to live, Bigelow sets out to untangle the events behind his impending death. Was it a dissatisfied client? Was it a family member out for revenge?! Or was Paula mad enough to commit murder because Frank didn’t take her with him?! The only way you’ll find out is to watch this exciting film noir D.O.A.

In June of 1951 D.O.A. was broadcast on Screen Director’s Playhouse on radio and Edmond O’Brien reprised his role. DOA was remade in Australia in 1960 under the title Color Me Dead and also in 1988 with Dennis Quaid. In 2004 D.O.A. was selected for preservation in the US National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.

After starring in our film O’Brien achieved his greatest success in Hollywood when he one the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role as a publicity agent in The Barefoot Contessa in 1954. While he never achieved success as a leading man in Hollywood he worked continuously in film and on the small screen as well.

Edmond married twice. First to actress Nancy Kelly and than to Olga San Juan who was the mother of his three children! Those children followed in their father’s footsteps with Maria and Brendan O’Brien becoming actors and Bridget O’Brien a Television Producer!

In May 9, 1985 O’Brien died after his battle with Alzheimer’s disease in Inglewood, California. Because of his success in Television Edmond O’Brien was awarded a star on the Hollywood walk of fame!

In 1977 D.O.A. fall into the public domain and now over 20 companies offer DVD versions of this film. You can download a copy of the entire film at Internet Archive! So their is no reason for not checking out this classic!

So until Next time this is Jason Lockard saying if you want to see a good film, check out a classic!

*   *   *

Moral Rating: Mild Violence
Audience: Teens and Adults
Genre: Mystery/Suspense
Length: 84 min.
Released: 1950
Our Rating: B-