D.O.A. (1950)

by Tom Ingram

Genre Crime
People Rudolph Mate d.; Dimitri Tiomkin m.; Edmond O’Brien; Neville Brand;
/10 6

A man (Edmond O’Brien) is poisoned to prevent him from producing evidence in a court case. During his last hours, he frantically tries to solve and avenge his own murder.

D.O.A. is a catalogue of everything that was hilarious about movies made before 1960. The racism and sexism (“if I were a man I’d punch you”) are not even thinly disguised. The sound effects (watch the movie and you’ll know what I’m talking about) are so bizarre it’s hard to imagine someone thinking they were a good idea. The musicians mime to a prerecorded track. The acting is over the top, the action scenes are nonsensical to anyone with the slightest knowledge of how guns work, and the plot and dialogue are contrived to set up dramatic situations even when it makes no sense.

It’s memorable (one reviewer called it “a high-concept movie before its time”), but can’t possibly be taken seriously. Many people consider this a classic, though it reminds me of one of the lesser episodes of MST3k. Your mileage may vary. At any rate, it’s short, and due to a quirk of US copyright law it’s available in the public domain.

1h23m; 1950; B/W