Monday, August 08, 2011

"D.O.A." (1950) - Movie Classics

How can you not be excited and fascinated by the tagline “D.O.A.” poses? “A picture as excitingly different as its title!” Mark the exclamation and you know what I am talking about. There are few films I get really pumped and this one got me for two reasons. One is the aforementioned catchy line and the second one is the plot that reminded me of a terrible film “Crank”. With that I sat along with my friends of the film group I arranged to be immersed into the cheesy, oozing 50ish classic film noir filled with lovable bad acting, some cool shots of San Francisco and a sarcasm that cuts through like a samurai sword.

Frank Bigelow (Edmond O’Brien) walks into a police station to report about his own murder. Confusing, isn’t it? Now in the realms of trailer and wikipedia filled world one would know about this kind of hype and plot but in the 50s when advertisements were through cheesy tag lines and pure selling factor of a poster, this opening sequence would have brought everybody to be alert right away. The film immediately goes back to flashback as Frank is preparing for his vacation to San Francisco from his town of Banning, California. His secretary/girlfriend is Paula (Pamela Britton) as it has been time and again taught by several “Mad Men” episodes, secretaries = obvious affairs. She is annoying the crap out of him with affection and as my friend was saying in a bipolar fashion. The reason being his immediate vacation to San Francisco. He departs as a man from those times would irreverent towards a woman’s perspective and opinion.

As he checks in to the hotel there are random beautiful women walk by him and the back ground cue for it is next to silliness while also marks a sense of how the film makers want to be sure of the nature in which Frank was ogling these women. It is ridiculous to hear those crazy sounds of obvious comedy but also symbolize the period in which this was made. Frank begins his charade of finding debauchery through his fellow members of the hotel where they invite him to a club, a jazz club. The festivities and the scene of jazz is shot with brilliant nature. The artists involved are animated and are enjoying their performance while the crowd frenzies around the packed room with noise, cheer and disturbing dances. As Frank settles in a bar stool he shifts his perspective towards a lonely lady on the other side of the bar. He goes to her and leaves his drink. Bad idea. A simple switch a route of his drink by a strange person lands him to finish his night earlier as he wakes up feeling weird about himself. You know what happened to him. The film begins with a new thump on this mystery of who poisoned him. He has little time to leave as he confirms with couple of doctors.

The plot that follows would have to be too complex but the idea is for this web to provide varied location and shady characters. As Frank is wondering how to spend his final day(s), he wants to unravel the reasoning for his sure destiny. He is a man with nothing to lose and he goes gung-ho to get his answers. He picks up short clues, long roads and quick hideaways to find the person who did this to him.

Director Rudolph Mate draws a perfect noir with a right tinge of overblown drama from the writings of Russell Rouse and Clarence Greene. There is immediacy in the acting from Edmond O’brien and Pamela Britton in their romance which truly is made to be an annoyance rather than an expression for true love. And then there is wit and sarcasm dripping through the screen from O’brien’s Bigelow who goes through random places and run through the streets of San Francisco to get some answers and die in peace and regret.

Almost every character is filled with dark shades and Bigelow failing to listen to their entire story before hurrying up to the partially built up clue he made of is entertaining. To understand the original nature of dark wit in terrible time is when he goes to extract information from a photo studio. There as the owner of the studio is getting bribed for information, the man explains the nature in which he conducts business and see the response Bigelow is making which is nothing short of cynicism and dark humour. These are the scenes which makes “D.O.A.” come out of its known cheesiness.

“D.O.A.” has genuine funniness and the obvious silliness of the time in which the movie was made. Yet it carries the pure formulation of a classic noir threaded, knitted and decorated with care and perfection in its own way by not alone the director but from every bit of the actors in good and bad acting and dark shadows of cinematography by Ernest Laszlo through the crazy lines of its screen writers. And from this the film truly has evolved from the eyes of the viewers more than the makers themselves.

No comments: