- Two Complete Features: THE STRANGER stars Orson Welles (also directed), Loretta Young and Edward G Robinson about a Nazi criminal hiding out in a small Connecticut town. (1946/86m/B&W) and CAUSE FOR ALARM with Loretta Young married to psychotic Barry Sullivan.(1951/73m/B&W)
Film Noir Vol. 1: The Stranger/Cause For Alarm
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This 158 minute DVD features the films The Stranger and Cause for Alarm.
There isn't much to connect these two features beyond the general umbrella of film noir and the presence of Loretta Young (hardly a noir icon), but the Roan Group's collection features excellent prints of both of these often poorly represented classics. The clean, sharp pictures and clear sound show these two films off at their best.
The legendary story that hovers over Orson Welles's The Stranger is that he wanted Agnes Moorehead to star as the dogged Nazi hunter who trails a war criminal to a sleepy New England town. The part went to E.G. Robinson, who is marvelous, but it points out how many compromises Welles made on the film in an attempt to show Hollywood he could make a film on time, on budget, and on their own terms. He accomplished all three, turning out a stylish if unambitious film noir thriller, his only Hollywood film to turn a profit on its original release. Welles stars as unreformed fascist Franz Kindler, hiding as a schoolteacher in a New England prep school for boys and newly married to the headmaster's lovely if naive daughter (Loretta Young). Welles the director is in fine form for the opening sequences, casting a moody tension as agents shadow a twitchy low-level Nazi official skulking through South American ports and building up to dramatic crescendo as Kindler murders this little man, the lovely woods becoming a maelstrom of swirling leaves that expose the body he furiously tries to bury. The rest of film is a well-designed but conventional cat-and-mouse game featuring an eye-rolling performance by Welles and a thrilling conclusion played out in the dark clock tower that looms over the little village.
In Cause for Alarm, Loretta Young is an elegantly tailored happy homemaker caring for her invalid husband (Barry Sullivan), a former pilot suffering from a mysterious heart disease that has driven him to almost complete madness. Convinced his wife and his doctor are in collusion to kill him, he's carefully recorded the "evidence" of their crime in a letter to the district attorney and prepares to turn the tables on them, but even his own sudden death can't stop the chain of events that plunges his wife into a waking nightmare. An unusual entry into the film noir school of paranoia, Tay Garnett's melodramatic thriller trades the dark alleys and long shadows of urban menace for the sunny, tree-lined streets of middle-class domesticity. Young, so often cool, calm, and carefully coifed in her studio roles, beautifully evokes the American Dream as the dutiful wife who collapses into a state of hysterical desperation. Spinning a web of lies to retrieve the damning letter, her world falls apart around her as she unwittingly sinks herself deeper into a morass of suspicion and circumstantial evidence. Though this is less slick and stylish than his claim to film noir fame The Postman Always Rings Twice, Garnett spins a simple premise into a tense, terrifying ordeal, and Young's deadened narration adds an eerie mood of doom to the suburban setting. --Sean AxmakerSee all Editorial Reviews
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Top Customer Reviews
Loretta Young as Ellen narrates the tale of "the most terrifying day of my life" -- you guess from the beginning that it all must come out OK for her but part of the fun of the movie is that neither you nor she can see exactly how. (Young's acting adds great suspense.
As a former caregiver for my wife, I could strongly empathize with Ellen's anxieties caring for her ill husband, ill as it turns out in both mind and body. He suddenly dies.
Bosley Crawther: "Here a simple situation is turned into a thoroughly chilling business by highlighting the most humdrum staples of the everyday American scene" Crawther points to.writing, acting and directing makes a little go a long way.
The suspense around recovering a deeply incriminating letter dominates the second half of the movie.
And the simple twist at the end ... well, it caught me totally off guard. I think that the strongest noir movies are those where the end is very clear from the beginning -- the joy of the genre comes from the journey to get there.
Robert C. Ross
-Acting is decent
-The plot hinges on the postal service
-too sweet and then too dark (or maybe just the contrast makes it seem dark)
-Ending just emphasizes what is wrong with this film
Overall, it is like the game of "Who is more paranoid", where you don't really care. I am not sure if this is an all american girl movie, Film Noir, or worst advertisement for Postal service ever. Loretta Young is an ok, but I really couldn't get into the movie. It is appropriate for almost any audience and I watched it all the way through so I can safely say it is not a 1 star; Though I think some people just can't take the movie clash. Watch it when you run out of movies to watch
The Stranger, 1946
The setting is a small New England town shortly after World War II. Loretta Young plays a young woman who returns from her honeymoon to find that a war crimes investigator (Edward G. Robinson) suspects her new husband (Orson Welles) of being a secretive high-level Nazi. The dramatic conflict concerns the wife's willingness to believe her husband is a war criminal, as the audience knows the truth almost from the beginning. Suspenseful, with good acting.
Cause for Alarm, 1951
Loretta Young plays a housewife caring for an invalid husband in post-war California. One day her husband (Barry Sullivan) tells her he believes that she and his doctor, a mutual friend, are planning to kill him, and that he has sent full details of their "plot" to the district attorney. When the husband suddenly dies of a heart attack, the wife's otherwise innocent actions seem to point to her guilt. The story is suspenseful and well-written, with everything falling into place at the end.