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Cause For Alarm!


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Cause for Alarm! is a 1951 film noir suspense film directed by Tay Garnett, written by Mel Dinelli and Tom Lewis, based on a story by Larry Marcus. Ellen (Loretta Young) narrates the tale of "the most terrifying day of my life", how she was taking care of her bedridden husband George Z. Jones (Barry Sullivan (actor)) when he suddenly dropped dead.<>.</>< name="imdbfilm">.</>


A flashback shows how Ellen met George in a naval hospital during World War II while she was dating his friend, Lieutenant Ranney Grahame (Bruce Cowling), a young military doctor whose busy schedule left little time for her. George was a pilot and Ellen swiftly fell in love with him, although the flashback strongly hints he had some capacity for arrogance and selfishness. Nevertheless, they soon married and after the war wound up in a leafy suburban Los Angeles neighborhood.
Unhappily, George is now confined to his bed with heart problems, there is a heat wave and Ellen is spending most her time caring for him. George's doctor is their old friend Ranney, with whom George thinks his wife is having an affair. In response, Ranney suggests George may need psychological help. After Ellen tells her bedridden husband she dreams of having children, he becomes angry. Meanwhile George has written a letter to the district attorney in which he claims his wife and best friend are killing him with overdoses of medicine for his heart.
A little neighbor boy dressed as a movie cowboy and warding cap pistols (Bradley Mora) befriends the childless Ellen, who gives him cookies. He hands her a toy (fake) television set and asks Ellen to give it to George, which she does whilst serving her husband lunch in bed. He tells her an unsettling story about how as a child he had beaten a neighbor boy with a rake until he drew blood. Thinking the thick letter has something to do with insurance, Ellen gives it to the postman (Irving Bacon), who sees George in the upstairs bedroom window. When Ellen rushes up to find out why he has gotten out of bed, George lets her know what the letter says and who it is addressed to. George pulls a gun and is about to kill her when he drops dead on the bed. In her narration she describes George's death as "one of those awful dreams."
Ellen panics over the letter and as noted by a reviewer over 50 years later, throughout the film's second half seems "much more concerned with absolving herself from the blame of his death than missing her spouse." Running from the house and shown the way by two teenagers in the film's brief erence to Los Angeles' mid-twentieth century

  • Loretta Young as Ellen Jones
  • Barry Sullivan (actor) as George Z. Jones
  • Bruce Cowling as Dr. Ranney Grahame
  • Margalo Gillmore as aunt Clara Edwards
  • Brad Morrow as Hoppy (Billy)

  • Irving Bacon as Joe Carston, the postman
  • Georgia Backus as Mrs. Warren, the neighbor
  • Don Haggerty as Mr. Russell, the notary
  • Art Baker (actor) as the post office superintendent
  • Richard Anderson as the wounded sailor at a naval hospital


Director Tay Garnett thoroughly prepared both cast and crew and the film was shot in 14 days, a rather tight schedule for the era (Young reportedly used the same pre-production technique for her TV series a few years later).

See also

  • List of films in the public domain in the United States

  • Cause for Alarm! information site and DVD review at DVD Beaver (includes images)
  • Cause for Alarm!] film trailer at
    Category:1951 films
    Category:1950s drama films
    Category:1950s thriller films
    Category:American drama films
    Category:American thriller films
    Category:Black-and-white films
    Category:English-language films
    Category:Film noir
    Category:Films directed by Tay Garnett
    Category:Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer films
    Category:Suspense films
  • More Public Domain Movies