Cause for Alarm! (1951)
“This Girl Is In Trouble!”
Director: Tay Garnett
Cast: Loretta Young, Barry Sullivan, Bruce Cowling
Synopsis: As the delusional George Jones struggles to recover from a crippling heart attack, he begins to believe his wife, Ellen, and friend, Dr. Grahame are planning to kill him in order to be together. George decides to write the authorities about his wife’s supposed murder plot. But when he really does die the innocent Ellen must stop the letter before she’s accused of killing her husband.
Loretta Young’s movie career was slowly fading away when she made Cause for Alarm, a cheap MGM B-movie (TV would eventually come to her rescue, extending her career for another decade). Apparently, she actually threatened the film’s producer Tom Lewis — who also happened to be her husband — with legal action if he didn’t give her the part. There’s probably not many examples of an actress going to such lengths to win a part in such a minor film, but it’s not difficult to see why: she’s on-screen virtually the entire running time and gets to run through her entire acting repertoire.
The story is quite neat — although probably more suited to a TV programme. She’s the loving wife of a paranoid man (Barry Sullivan) suffering from heart disease who believes she and his doctor friend are attempting to knock him off. Sullivan tricks her into posting a letter telling as much to the DA, and when he really does die she spends the rest of the film trying to get the letter back. I knew there was a twist ending in this film and, while it’s a fairly good one, it would have been better if, having spent the entire time rooting for her, we discovered Young and the doctor really had been planning to finish her husband off. Still, this was the early fifties, and maybe such a cynical ending would have been too much in that day and age.
Cause for Alarm is quite enjoyable if watched on its own modest terms.
(Reviewed 8th December 2012)