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Cause for Alarm! (1951) [Film Noir] [Drama]

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Host » 5pm - May 2, 2013
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 neighbourhood. 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 neighbour 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 neighbour 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 reference to Los Angeles' mid-twentieth century jalopy culture, she chases down the overly talkative postman to whom she gave the letter but he won't give it back to her without talking to George first, since he wrote it. However, the postman says she can ask the supervisor at the downtown post office, who has more authority. Ellen...
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