Release dateMarch 18, 1946 (1946-03-18) (Sweden)
April 3, 1946 (1946-04-03) (United States) Based onthe novella
by Cornell Woolrich WriterClifford Odets (screenplay), Cornell Woolrich (based upon a novel by) ScreenplayCornell Woolrich, Clifford Odets CastSusan Hayward (June Goth), Paul Lukas (Gus Hoffman), Bill Williams (Alex Winkley), Joseph Calleia (Val Bartelli), Osa Massen (Helen Robinson), Lola Lane (Edna Bartelli) Similar moviesBirdman, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, A Walk Among the Tombstones, Salt, Straight Outta Compton, The Butterfly Effect
TaglineDancehall lovelie! Boy on leave! Murder became their business!
Deadline at dawn 1946 clip
A cabby (Paul Lukas) helps a New York dance-hall girl (Susan Hayward) look for clues to clear a sailor (Bill Williams) framed for murder.
Deadline at Dawn is a 1946 film noir, the only film directed by stage director Harold Clurman. It was written by Clifford Odets and based on a novella by Cornell Woolrich (as William Irish). The RKO Pictures film release was the only cinematic collaboration between Clurman and his former Group Theatre associate, screenwriter Odets. The director of photography was RKO regular Nicholas Musuraca. The musical score was by German refugee composer Hanns Eisler.
A young Navy sailor has one night to find out why a woman was killed and he ended up with a bag of money after a drinking blackout.
U.S. Navy sailor Alex Winkley (Bill Williams) wakes up from a night of drinking in New York City and finds he has a wad of cash. His memory is hazy, but he knows he got it from a woman he had visited earlier in the evening, Edna Bartelli (Lola Lane).
Deadline at dawn 1946 rko
With the help of dance hall girl June Goth (Susan Hayward), he attempts to return the money, only to find out that the woman is dead. The sailor isnt sure if hes the killer or not. Alex and June, along with a philosophical cabbie (Paul Lukas), stay up all night, attempting to solve the murder mystery before the sailor has to catch a bus to the naval base in Norfolk, Virginia, in the morning. Their deadline is at dawn.
During the film, there are many false leads and red herrings involving a blind piano player named Sleepy Parsons (Marvin Miller) and a young couple. Bartelli had been in the business of blackmailing men with whom she had had affairs, so there are many possible suspects. The womans brother Val (Joseph Calleia) adds a touch of menace to the plot. The surprise ending resolves all issues, including the relationship between Alex and June.
Susan Hayward as June Goth
Paul Lukas as Gus Hoffman
Bill Williams as Alex Winkley
Joseph Calleia as Val Bartelli
Osa Massen as Helen Robinson
Lola Lane as Edna Bartelli
Jerome Cowan as Lester Brady
Marvin Miller as Sleepy Parsons
The dialogue contains Odets trademark New York wisecracks. For example, while dancing at club early in the movie, the Hayward character likens the dance hall to a post office, filled with second-class matter. Edna Bartelli greets her ex-husband by saying, "Arent you dead yet?"
There are many "slice of life" characterizations of big city people in small roles, such as a tired banana salesman, an angry building superintendent, a refugee with a skin condition who has a crush on June, and a wisecracking sidewalk pitchman.
Odets Group Theatre colleague Roman Bohnen appears in a bit part, as a grief-stricken man with a dying cat.
Film critic Dennis Schwartz somewhat liked the film, writing, "Broadways Harold Clurman takes his only stab at film directing, after the breakup of his Group Theatre, in this odd psychological thriller noted for its flowery dialogue and muddled story line ... Its penned by playwright Clifford Odets from a story by Cornell Woolrich. Though enjoyable by virtue of its distorted mise-en-scene, affection for NYC characters and its misplaced chatter, this is not art but run-of-the-mill film noir. Set in Manhattan, yet Deadline used no location shots but was filmed entirely in the studios back lots. Cinematographer Nick Musuraca does a fine job creating an atmospheric scene of NYCs downtrodden and unhappy souls roaming the dark streets."
Sinner Take All (1936). Paul Lukas appears in Deadline at Dawn and The Casino Murder Case. When Were You Born (1938). Touch of Evil (1958). Crack-Up (1946).
Warner Bros. released the film on DVD on July 13, 2010, in its Film Noir Classic Collection, Vol. 5.