Deadline at Dawn

Watch Deadline at Dawn

"Fate points the finger of suspicion... and one evening of innocent fun turns into a nightmare of MURDER!"
  • Passed
  • 1946
  • 1 hr 23 min
  • 6.8  (2,118)

Deadline at Dawn is a 1946 crime drama film directed by Harold Clurman, based on a novel of the same name written by Cornell Woolrich. The story is set in New York City, where a sailor named Alex (Bill Williams) arrives on shore leave with only 24 hours before his ship's departure. But before he can leave the city, he meets a stunning blonde named June (Susan Hayward) whom he rescues from an altercation with a man. June is slightly hesitant at first due to Alex being a stranger, but during a conversation, she reveals that her troubled past dealing with alcoholism, and her fear of the man that she fled from due to his abusive nature.

June and Alex spend the night together, and he soon realizes that time is running out before he needs to report back to his ship. However, before he can leave, June receives a call from a man she was trying to avoid. Alex overhears the call and is troubled when he hears the man tell June that she has until dawn to give him some important information.

Alex decides to help June, believing that she is in danger. Throughout the movie, the two race against the clock to find out what information the man is looking for, and how it can help June escape from her past. They are assisted by a kind-hearted cab driver named Gus (Paul Lukas) who sympathizes with the two young lovers.

The film's story is a suspenseful, nail-biting thriller, as Alex and June run into several obstacles in their search for answers. Time is running out, and they must make the most of their limited hours before Alex is forced to return to sea. Throughout the film, we see the two gradually fall in love while they try to solve the mystery of what June is hiding. The chemistry between the two leads is palpable, and their onscreen romance is touching, while also heightening the tension of the story's high stakes.

Apart from the thrilling storyline, the setting is a key element in the film. The city of New York is portrayed as dark, gritty, and mysterious, becoming as much of a character in the film as the human players. The film's re-creation of the Big Apple's seedy underbelly, with its dimly lit alleys and byzantine shadows, sets the tone for the story and never lets up.

The three main actors deliver solid performances throughout the film. Susan Hayward is wonderful as the troubled June, bringing an emotional weight to the material that is at times heartbreaking. Bill Williams is equally effective as Alex, who is both determined and unsettled as he finds himself in the middle of a dangerous situation. Paul Lukas shines as Gus, the cab driver who helps Alex and June in their quest. He provides a warm-hearted presence in the film that becomes integral to the resolution of the story.

The film's direction is also impressive, with Harold Clurman managing to create an atmosphere of suspense and dread throughout the film. The black and white cinematography is gorgeous and captures the dark mood of the story.

Overall, Deadline at Dawn is an engaging and suspenseful film noir that offers a unique love story amidst a dark and murky city environment. The film's tight narrative structure and strong performances from the cast make it an enjoyable and classic example of early film noir.

Deadline at Dawn
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  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 23 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    6.8  (2,118)