D.O.A. is one of the most underrated crime thrillers ever written. This 1950 film, written by Russell Rouse and Clarence Greene is considered by some to be little more than a B-flick. But in a weird way, it manages to keep its audience’s attention from beginning to end. And in comparison to its 1988 re-make starring Dennis Quaid, is far better. As with so many movies of that era, it didn’t rely on special effects, violence and sex. It relied on good acting and storytelling. And through that, it was a success.
The story behind D.O.A. is, as noted, simple. CPA Frank Bigelow goes on a little vacation to San Francisco. While there, he is poisoned one night by an unknown assailant while spending an evening at a bar. As a result, he is left with very little time to live. So he has to find out who poisoned him and why. How and why this happens will keep viewers watching throughout the movie’s near ninety-minute run time. The oddity of this movie is that in a strange way, one can’t help but make some slight comparisons to the likes of the 1998 Will Smith/Gene Hackman movie, Enemy of the State. The story and action style are very similar. Odds are, there likely is no link between the two, stylistically. But it makes for an interesting discussion. Both have that standard ordinary guy gets unwittingly wrapped up in a big conspiracy, with fast paced action results. The only difference is the story.
D.O.A. sadly is not one of the most memorable crime thrillers ever written. Sure it isn’t the top notch style movie that others have been over the years. But audiences must remember that B-movies are classic in their own right, too. Some of them are awful. That’s a given. But then some, like this movie, aren’t that bad, actually. Any viewer who has any interest in the history of crime thrillers and dramas will easily find this movie a nice addition to their library. And thanks to Mill Creek Entertainment’s brand new 100Greatest Mystery Classics side-by side double box set, it can be watched any time, along with loads of other classic B-flicks.
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