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Deadline at Dawn

Combine of playwright Clifford Odets and director Harold Clurman, two onetime NY Group Theatre stalwarts, should have produced a more plausible murder melodrama of Manhattan than this one. Film has an arty appraoch to an otherwise plain whodunit, and is shot through with phoney bits of story and dialog. Performances are of a mixed quality.

With:
Susan Hayward Paul Lukas Bill Williams Joseph Calleia Osa Massen Lola Lane

Combine of playwright Clifford Odets and director Harold Clurman, two onetime NY Group Theatre stalwarts, should have produced a more plausible murder melodrama of Manhattan than this one. Film has an arty appraoch to an otherwise plain whodunit, and is shot through with phoney bits of story and dialog. Performances are of a mixed quality.

Story [from the novel by Willian Irish] concerns a naive gob (Bill Williams) on leave in New York, who wanders into a cafe to be fleeced in a card game, and who wanders out with a dame to – of all things – fix a radio in her home. A few drinks under his belt, and he remembers nothing – how he came to be one-stepping with a gal in a dime-a-dance joint, how he came to have a huge roll on him, or how the dame whose radio he fixed was murdered. A dancer (Susan Hayward) feels sympathy for him and tries to help him find the murderer.

Rest of film recounts the efforts of the two to track down the clues they find, the meanwhile involving a gangster (Joseph Calleia), a taxi-driver (Paul Lukas), a shoestring theatrical producer, a blind pianist and a couple of two-timing gals.

The romance between gob and gal that develops has a phoney ring. The speech of characters, especially the gullible gob who talks bookish English as if out of Shakespeare, hardly ever rings true.

Deadline at Dawn

Production: RKO. Director Harold Clurman; Producer Adrian Scott; Screenplay Clifford Odets; Camera Nicholas Musuraca; Editor Roalnd Gross; Music Hanns Eisler; Art Director Albert S. D'Agostino, Jack Okey

Crew: (B&W) Available on VHS. Extract of a review from 1946. Running time: 83 MIN.

With: Susan Hayward Paul Lukas Bill Williams Joseph Calleia Osa Massen Lola Lane

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