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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

CAUSE FOR ALARM (1951)

You can almost hear the edifice of old Hollywood crumbling in this witless one-note thriller manque. Reliable M-G-M vets Tay Garnett & Joe Ruttenberg helmed & shot it, but the film looks & plays like a cheap programmer for Loretta Young in mid-career free-fall. Her hubby (Barry Sullivan) is a bedridden WWII hero who believes that both Young & his best-pal/doctor are trying to kill him. He’s mailed an incriminating letter and the suspense comes in watching Young sweat in mounting panic as she fails again & again to stop delivery. No joke, that’s the plot! The last act brings unintentional laughs as Loretta jumps in fear at every ring of the doorbell. And everybody's stopping by! (It's like a Carol Burnett sketch.) This all might (that’s might) have made some effect if she & the good doctor actually were trying to do the creep in (shades of Garnett’s THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE), but with the lamentable Dore Schary running M-G-M, thinking small was the norm.

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