Cause for Alarm (1951)

Genres - Drama, Thriller  |   Sub-Genres - Psychological Thriller  |   Run Time - 73 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Craig Butler

An effective but unexceptional little thriller, Cause for Alarm is notable for the star power of Loretta Young in this quickly-made (14 days) B-level film. Indeed, in some ways the presence of Young works slightly against Alarm. Alarm is nothing more than a manipulative "innocent victim" film, but having a legend like Young in it somehow makes us expect more than the little charms of this modest picture. But there's also the flip side: Young's star magic elevates sequences that would otherwise have been a bit too contrived or mundane. Certainly, Alarm's plot is frequently contrived, but it also all fits together well; we may not really swallow some of it, but it makes a certain structural sense, and we're willing to let it slide to enjoy Young's panicked attempts to retrieve the letter and the roadblocks which keep getting thrown in her. Tay Garnett's slick, smooth direction helps a great deal, as does Barry Sullivan's mentally ill husband. Bruce Cowling is unfortunately bland as the third point of the triangle, but Margalo Gillmore and Irving Bacon help to make up for this. And Joseph Ruttenberg's cinematography and Andre Previn's score are also huge pluses.