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Nato in Polonia, Rudolph Mate si rivelo' come operatore a Berlino, dove fu allievo di
Freund. Nel 1934 emigro' a Hollywood, dove lavoro' per Hawks, Wyler, Vidor, ecc. Nel 1947 esordi' alla
regia e due anni dopo diresse
un film noir rimasto celebre soprattutto per l'inizio.
D.O.A. (1949) is a fast-paced thriller on the premise of a man who reports to the police that he has been murdered. The film is structured like a treasure hunt: the protagonist is sent from one clue to the next one in an ever more hectic ghost chase. It is as if Hitchcock was directing under an epileptic fit.
Frank begins the tale of what happened. He lives in a small town in the desert and works in an office. One day he decides go on a vacation to San Francisco without telling her fiance and secretary Paula, who is obviously very upset. He is clearly running away from her.
In San Francisco he is staying in a hotel that is crowded with beautiful women partying all the time. His secretary Paula calls him about a mysterious individual who has been trying to get urgently in touch with him. Frank follows the festive crowd and ends up in a noisy jazz club. As he approaches a blonde girl at the counter, a man pours something into his drink. During the night he starts feeling sick and in the morning a doctor confirms that he is about to die: the poison has already reached the vital organs, there is no antidote and he has at most one day to live. Incredulous, Frank walks to a hospital and asks for a second test: the hospital confirms that he has been murdered and calls the police. Frank runs away.
Frank decides to investigate his own murder. He, the victim, becomes the detective. He only has one day to crack the case. Frank starts with the hotel, trying to track down the party of the evening before. His secretary calls again about the mysterious individual who wanted to talk to him and thinks of reassuring Frank by telling him that he died suddenly. But, of course, Frank thinks that this could be a lead and rushes to Los Angeles to find out why the man wanted to reach him and what he died of: the man committed suicide by leaping from the balcony because the police suspected him of selling some stolen uranium, and nobody knows why the dead man wanted to speak to Frank.
But Paula finds a new clue: in her files she finds a record that this man purchased uranium from somebody, and Frank was the notary public who notarized the bill of sale. Frank rushes back to the dead man's widow and learns from her that the uranium seller disappeared and so did the bill of sale. Frank is the only other person who knows about the bill of sale... Both the dead man's brother, Stanley, and his business partner, Halliday, behave in a hostile manner, hurt by Frank's arrogance. The dead man's secretary gives him another clue: the dead man had a lover.
Frank visits the lover just in time: she's about to leave on a vacation. From a photograph found in her apartment he gets to learn the real name of the uranium seller: Raymond.
As he walks out of the photographic shop, somebody starts shooting at him. Then gangsters kidnap him and take him to the luxurious house of the old man who protects the dead man's lover, an old man named Majak, who happens to be the uncle of the uranium seller. He tells Frank that his nephew died one month earlier, therefore he had nothing to do with his poisoning. Since he now knows too much, the gangsters would still want to kill him, but Frank manages to escape.
Frank is driven crazy by the whirlwind of suspects. He suspects the dead man's brother, Stanley, after figuring out that he must have an affair with the secretary, but instead he finds that Stanley has just been poisoned. The next suspect is then the widow, the only one who could have stolen the bill of sale and, according to Stanley, the one who is having a love affair with her late husband's business partner, Halliday. The woman, terrified by Frank's determination to get the truth out of her, admits that Holliday is the one who did not want the bill of sale to surface: Halliday is actually the real seller of the stolen uranium and had made sure that his partner got accused of it.
Majak's gangsters are still on Frank's heels but Frank eludes their chase. Frank finds Halliday walking out of his office and fills his body with bullets. Frank has just killed his own murderer.
Back to the police office, Frank drops dead in front of the police chief.
When Worlds Collide (1951) e' invece un film di fantascienza.