"Frank Bigelow: "I want to report a murder." Homicide Captain: "Where was this murder committed?" Frank Bigelow: "San Francisco, last night." Homicide Captain: "Who was murdered?" Frank Bigelow: "I was." "
D.O.A. (1950), a film noir drama film directed by Rudolph Maté. The film stars Edmond O'Brien and Pamela Britton.
The movie begins with a long sequence featuring Frank Bigelow (Edmond O'Brien) walking through the hallway of a police station to report his own murder. When he arrives, the police say they have been expecting him.
Frank Bigelow begins to tell the police what brought him there. A flashback begins with Bigelow in his hometown of Banning, California where he is an accountant and notary public. He decides to take a one-week vacation in San Francisco, but this does not sit well with Paula (Pamela Britton), his secretary and girlfriend, since he is not taking her along.
In San Francisco, Bigelow accompanies a group from a sales convention on a night on the town. At a jazz club, while he is talking to a beautiful blonde, a stranger with a plaid scarf swaps his drink with his. Bigelow does not notice.
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 tells Bigelow that someone has poisoned him.
With at most a few days to live, Bigelow sets out to untangle the events behind his impending death.
Paula provides the first clue, a Eugene Philips has been trying to contact him but has since died. Paula finds in Bigelow's notary book that he once notarized a bill of safe involving Eugene Philips.
Bigelow travels to Philips' import-export company in Los Angeles, first meeting Miss Foster (Beverly Garland), the secretary, then Mr Halliday (William Ching), the comptroller, who tells him Eugene Philips committed suicide. Bigelow follows the trail to the widow, Mrs Philips (Lynn Baggett) and Eugene's brother Stanley (Henry Hart).
Bigelow learns the bill of sale was for stolen iridium and Eugene Philips had been trying to contact him as this bill of sale would be proof of Philips innocence.
Bigelow next contacts Philip's mistress Marla Rakubian (Laurette Luez) and this leads him to gangsters led by Majak (Luther Adler). They capture Bigelow and since he has learned too much about the theft, Majak orders his psychotic henchman Chester (Neville Brand) to kill him. However, Bigelow manages to escape.
Who poisoned Bigelow? Was it Eugene Philip's brother Stanley? His secretary Miss Foster? Gangster Majak? Eugene Philip's partner Halliday? or Eugene Philips widow? Did Eugene Philip's commit suicide or was he pushed off the balcony?
The flashback comes to an end, Bigelow finishes telling his story and at the police station and dies, his last word being "Paula." The police detective taking down the report instructs that his file be marked "D.O.A." (dead on arrival).