Movie Review: Cause for Alarm! (1951)
Synopsis: Confined to his bed with heart problems, George Jones begins to suspect his wife, Ellen, is having an affair with his friend and her former boyfriend, Dr. Ranney Graham, and they plan to kill him. He writes a note indicating this and, when he dies unexpectedly, she grows concerned about the damage the letter can do.
Review: I came across this movie a couple days ago and, thinking it sounded interesting, added it to my movie library. I had an opportunity to watch it this morning and it turned out to be a good choice.
When I first read the description, I suspected this movie would be like other films and George's (Sullivan) suspicions would be spot-on. However, it only took a few minutes to see that wasn't going to be the case and Ellen (Young) was as devoted to him as any wife could be, even though he honestly didn't do a whole lot to make it seem like he deserved it. I even honestly kind of wondered what she saw in him in the first place since he seemed borderline abusive at times.
This, in turn, made me somewhat intrigued because I wondered why he would draw a conclusion like that. in the first place. Ellen seemed to think it was just his illness, but I wasn't so sure about that, he was so certain, I wondered if maybe he had some sort of evidence he didn't include in his letter.
Not to mention, while I was fairly certain Ellen wasn't trying to kill her husband, I also wasn't completely convinced their friend, Ranney, wasn't secretly plotting against him. After all, he seemed pretty heartbroken (during a flashback) when she picked George over him and could have seen George's heart condition as a great way to get him out of the picture. Plus, as a doctor, he was more than capable of taking full advantage of George's illness.
Ellen's state of panic after learning of the letter and watching her husband die was also an interesting part of the movie, especially how she managed to make herself look guilty, especially when she was arguing with the mailman (Irving Bacon) over the letter and trying to convince him to give it back to her. I wasn't convinced a letter would be enough to get her and Ranney in trouble, especially given George's health issue, but she sure was doing her best to make it easier for the district attorney.
At first, I wasn't too sure about hearing Ellen narrating things but, as the movie progressed, it was a great way to understand her state of mind, especially as she continued to get more stressed. I especially loved the way she viewed just about everyone as a potential witness (and, the way she was behaving, she wasn't wrong).
I did find I was a little curious as to why she didn't want to tell Ranney about George's death or the letter, at least after she failed to prevent the latter from being mailed. Even if he couldn't have helped, you would think it would be something she would want to at least warn him about, so he wasn't blindsided by it later. Did she suspect he was trying to kill her husband too? If I would change anything about the movie, it would be a better explanation about that.
Final Opinion: It was helped a lot by Loretta Young's outstanding performance, but this was a movie that was definitely worth taking the time to watch. I'm glad I came across it.
My Grade: A