After being mildly entertained by one modest film noir, Impact, I returned to an old favourite, D.O.A., having previously enjoyed both the original movie and the re-make. And I found myself enjoying it all over again. There's no doubt about it, this is a classic of the genre, right from the moment that a man staggers into a police station, in order to report a murder - his own.
It's a splendidly original beginning, and a prelude to a flashback which takes up almost the whole of the film's running time, as we learn the truth about the murder. Frank Bigelow is an accountant and a notary public, and his role as a notary is crucial to the plot. This appeals to me, since many years ago I was a notary public's sidekick. Thankfully, my boss avoided Frank Bigelow's fate.
Frank is adored by his secretary, but doesn't appreciate her - this is one of the ironies of the story; he really only learns what matters in life when it is too late. He takes a holiday in San Francisco, and starts chasing women. Another irony is that this is what costs him his life. While he is chatting up a pretty stranger, a mysterious man does something that will result in Frank's death.
When Frank realises that he is the victim of a murder plot, he sets out to find whodunit. The pace is unrelenting, right to the end. Edmond O'Brien does a very good job with a tricky role as Frank, and the film benefits from a soundtrack by Dimitri Tiomkin. A gripping film noir, which deserves its high reputation.