Before Dawn
Directed byIrving Pichel
Screenplay byGarrett Fort
Based onDeath Watch
1932 story in Chicago Daily Tribune
by Edgar Wallace
Produced byMerian C. Cooper
StarringStuart Erwin
Dorothy Wilson
Warner Oland
Dudley Digges
Gertrude Hoffman
CinematographyLucien N. Andriot
Edited byWilliam Hamilton
Music byMax Steiner
Distributed byRKO Pictures
Release date
  • August 4, 1933 (1933-08-04)
Running time
60 minutes
CountryUnited States

Before Dawn is a 1933 American pre-Code drama film directed by Irving Pichel and written by Garrett Fort. The film stars Stuart Erwin, Dorothy Wilson, Warner Oland, Dudley Digges and Gertrude Hoffman. It is one of the few Warner Oland films from this period in which he does not play an Asian character. The film was released on August 4, 1933, by RKO Pictures.[1][2][3]


Dying gangster Joe Valerie (Frank Reicher) reveals the hiding place of a million dollars in loot to his physician Dr. Cornelius (Warner Oland). The sinister Austrian doctor has designs on the money, but must first outwit detective Dwight Wilson (Stuart Erwin) and clairvoyant Patricia Merrick (Dorothy Wilson). The setting is an eerie, possibly haunted house in small town America, where the stash is hidden, and the bodies begin piling up.


Critical reception

TV Guide wrote, "very fast-paced whodunit thanks to Pichel's taut direction, with the added stylistic flair of a glowing deathmask which floats through the mansion's hallways. Penned by Wallace during his stay in Hollywood" ;[4] and The New York Times wrote, "like most of the British author's works, this particular ruddy specimen is blessed with vigor and imagination...There are enough killings and accidental deaths to satisfy the most ardent enthusiasts of such thrillers."[5]


  1. ^ "Before Dawn (1933) - Overview". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved September 9, 2014.
  2. ^ "Movie Review - Before Dawn - Dudley Digges and Warner Oland in a Pictorial Melodrama by the Late Edgar Wallace". Retrieved September 9, 2014.
  3. ^ "Before Dawn Trailer, Reviews and Schedule for Before Dawn". TV Guide. Retrieved September 9, 2014.
  4. ^ "Before Dawn".
  5. ^ "Movie Review: Dudley Digges and Warner Oland in a Pictorial Melodrama by the Late Edgar Wallace". Retrieved February 16, 2016.