A man staggers into the police station to report a murder. When the desk sergeant asks who was murdered, he answers: “I was.” That man is Professor Dexter Cornell (Dennis Quaid), who then sits down to video-tape his account.
Thirty-six hours previously, Cornell is on campus. He is a college professor, was once a promising writer, made his name and is secure in his tenure, but he has spent the last four years going through the motions and playing it safe. “Publish or perish” is the contrasting rule of university politics and Cornell helps his friend Hal Petersham (Daniel Stern) with his first book.
While he is in his office, a promising student, Nick Lang (Robert Knepper), jumps off a building right outside his office in an apparent suicide. This, coupled with the depressing Christmas season, unseasonably hot weather and the divorce papers given to him by his wife Gail (Jane Kaczmarek) leads Cornell to seek out the local bars for a night of drinking. There he meets admiring student Sydney Fuller (Meg Ryan) and they proceed to get drunk.
The next morning, Cornell, feeling his sickness is more than just a hangover, stops by the campus medical clinic for a checkup. After running some tests, they discover that he has been poisoned and has 36 hours to live. An incredulous Cornell staggers out to try to make sense of it all.
Aided by Fuller, whom he kidnaps by super-gluing himself to her arm, he attempts to recreate the events of the previous night hoping to discover who could have murdered him. The list of suspects includes his wife, who is also the victim of a murder, which the police make half-hearted efforts to pin on Cornell.
D.O.A. is a 1988 American crime-thriller film and a remake of the 1950 film noir of the same name. While it shares the same premise, it has a different story and characters. The film was directed by Annabel Jankel and Rocky Morton, and scripted by Charles Edward Pogue. The writers of the original film, Russell Rouse and Clarence Greene, share story credit with Pogue. It stars Dennis Quaid, Meg Ryan, and Charlotte Rampling. The movie was filmed in Austin, Texas and San Marcos, Texas.
Directed by: Annabel Jankel, Rocky Morton
Starring: Dennis Quaid, Meg Ryan, Charlotte Rampling, Daniel Stern, Jane Kaczmarek, Christopher Neame, Robin Johnson, Elizabeth Arlen, Karen Radcliffe
Screenplay by: Charles Edward Pogue
Production Design by: Richard Amend
Cinematography by: Yuri Neyman
Film Editing by: Raja Gosnell, Michael R. Miller
Costume Design by: Nancy Cone
Set Decoration by: Michael O’Sullivan
Music by: Chaz Jankel
Distributed by: Buena Vista Pictures
Release Date: March 18, 1988