Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Loretta Young is leaving for TV

Loretta Young retired from making movies in the early 1950s in order to do a weekly drama anthology series on television. Perhaps her later movies, like Cause For Alarm, airing at 12:45 PM today on TCM, are part of the reason why.

Young plays Navy nurse Ellen Brown. She meets patient George Jones (Barry Sullivan), falls in love with him, and marries him. Unfortunately, due to his war injuries, he's a sickly man, and a bit of a paranoid to boot. She has to do a lot of playing nursemaid, while the family doctor visits frequently. Eventually, he gets convinced that his wife is carrying on an affair with the doctor. Not only that, he's convinced that the two of them are plotting to kill him! So, he writes a letter to the district attorney, detailing his belief, and keeping it to be mailed at the appropriate time. Soon enough, he decided to mail the letter, which he has her do for him, and then in an argument about it, he drops dead through no fault of hers.

The rest of the movie is Young's desperate attempt to get that letter back. Truth be told, it's all perfunctory, by-the-numbers stuff. The plot is fairly contrived, and the performances leave something to be desired. MGM was still churning out a bunch of this stuff in the early 1950s; stuff that would have played better as a B-movie in the late 1930s or the early 1940s. Here, however, it's quite a step down for Young, who a few short years earlier had made gems like The Bishop's Wife, or her Oscar-winning role in The Farmer's Daughter.

Somewhat surpisingly, Cause For Alarm made its way to DVD but, unsurprisingly, the DVDs are no longer in print.

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