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Film Noir Vol. 1: The Stranger/Cause For Alarm

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DVD

3.9 out of 5 stars 45 customer reviews

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(May 13, 2009)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

This 158 minute DVD features the films The Stranger and Cause for Alarm.

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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 Axmaker

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Special Features

  • 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)

Product details

  • Actors: Loretta Young, Barry Sullivan, Orson Welles, Edward G. Robinson, Bruce Cowling
  • Directors: Orson Welles, Tay Garnett
  • Writers: Anthony Veiller, Decla Dunning, Dorothy Kingsley, John Huston, Lawrence B. Marcus
  • Format: Black & White, Dolby, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Unrated
    Not Rated
  • Studio: ROAN
  • DVD Release Date: October 26, 1999
  • Run Time: 158 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6305436479
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #278,740 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
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  • Learn more about "Film Noir Vol. 1: The Stranger/Cause For Alarm" on IMDb

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