6 November 2004 | sol-kay
Little know post-WWII Film-Nior gem set in New York City on a hot sweltering summer night with one of the most unusual murder mysteries you'll ever see. The movie starts out with Sleepy Parsons, Marvin Miller, pleading with his estranged wife Edna, Lola Lane, for the $1,400.00 that she owes him. Edna after insulting the poor blind and very sick man Sleepy finds out that the money, Sleepy's $1,400.00, that she had in her purse is gone! what happened to it?
Earlier that evening Edna met this young sailor Alex, Bill Williams,on leave at a restaurant that her gangster brother Val Bartelli, Joseph Calleia, owned. After getting him drunk Val cheated him, playing cards, out of his pay. The story got even weirder when Edna telling Alex that she'll pay him to goes up to her place to fix her radio, Alex is a radio repairman in the navy, and got the poor slob even more drunk where he lost consciousness. waking up at a news stand after being given a cup of strong coffee by the newspaper man to clear his mind Alex staggered up on his feet a wad of $1,400.00 falls out of his pocket, where did it come from?
Going to a dance-hall later that night Alex gets very friendly with a local dance girl June, Susan Hayward. After June finished dancing with the costumers Alex goes with June to her place to have a bite to eat. At June's place Alex gets this bright idea to go back to where Edna lives and return the $1,400.00 ,which he feels is hers, with June coming along for the ride. When both get there they find, to their surprise and shock, that Edna was murdered, who did it? was it Alex? was it Sleepy? was it about a half dozen other suspects who had some connection with Edna? All I can say about the movie is that it will floor you with an ending that you won't see coming and even when it does! It will take you a while to realize what you missed in the clues that were so skillfully dropped leading to it all throughout the film.
"Deadline at Dawn" is one of those films that just sticks with you right from the start. Even though there's a number of flaws in it you easily overlook them when you realize that it's going in a direction that will more then make up for them, with it's almost unbelievable ending. Paul Lukas as NYC Cabbie, Gus Hoffman,is at first just an innocent bystander who picks up the couple, Alex & June.
As the movie goes on he becomes more and more central to the story by being more of a detective then a taxi driver as well as having the knowledge of a Ivy League Collage professor! whats this guy doing driving a cab? As the trio slowly work together time is running out to find out not only who murdered Edna but to also clear Alex of the crime, in which he's the prime suspect, and at the same time make it possible for Alex to catch the 6;00AM bus to Norfolk Virginia to report to his ship.
Powerful and surprising ending that has elements to it that you just rarely see in movies today and never in movies back then, in the 1940's. It really has you thinking about what is really good and bad in the world. Like I said before the ending just floored me not that it was so surprising, it was, but that it shows just how human and imperfect people are in the movie as well as they are in real life.