In flashback from a 'Rebecca'-style beginning: Ellen Foster, visiting her aunt on the California coast, meets neighbor Jeff Cohalan and his ultramodern clifftop house. Ellen is strongly ... See full summary »
Invalid George Jones is both physically and mentally ill. He mistakenly believes his wife Ellen and his doctor are having an affair and also planning to kill him. He writes a letter to his lawyer detailing their alleged murder plot. After he has Ellen give the letter to their postman, he reveals its contents to her and then threatens her with a gun. The excitement proves to much and George suffers a fatal collapse. Now Ellen must find a way to retrieve the incriminating letter. Written by
Daniel Bubbeo <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Producer Tom Lewis wanted Judy Garland for the part, but his wife Loretta Young wanted the part also. She retained a lawyer who told him that he was discriminating against her because she was his wife. She got the part. See more »
Decent enough thriller that nevertheless suffers a gap in exposition. In spite of reviewer Jacobfam's highly revealing analytic, the narrative jump from a healthy if quirky George (Sullivan) to a bed-ridden, full-blown paranoic is simply too visually abrupt to be convincing-- and this remains the case despite the clues that Jacobfam so brilliantly assembles. After all, this is a movie and not a literary assignment . The way the narrative stands, it's as if the producers wanted to get rid of co-star Sullivan as quickly as possible so the movie would become exclusively Young's. And admittedly, the last three-fourths do become hers, in spite of the shadow George casts.
Where the film works well is showing how innocent daily occurrences transform into a pattern of guilt once suspicion takes over. Ellen (Young) sees the trap closing around her that George has so cleverly laid, but there is little she can do unless she retrieves that incriminating letter. It's that pursuit that generates audience involvement. It's simply one frustration after anothera pesky salesman, a nosy neighbor, but above all, a quirky mailman (Bacon), who are sealing her fate. The script cleverly turns the mailman into just the kind of character who would stand on an unthinking rule rather than a dose of common sense. Meanwhile, the letter floats tantalizingly just beyond her reach. Some reviewers fault Young's emotional performance during the pursuit. But put yourself in her place. Her whole life hangs in the balance because of that letter. Given what's at stake, her emotional pitch seems about right.
In passingCan't help noticing similarity between this film and 1952's Beware, My Lovely, both scripted by Mel Dinelli, and both concerning a housewife trapped by an unbalanced man. But, notice in Beware how well the unbalanced man's (Robert Ryan) background is visually sketched in. Unlike Cause, there are no developmental gaps, an inclusion that makes for a more persuasive and effective narrative. Also, I recall an episode of Hitchcock Presents where a woman frantically tries to retrieve an incriminating letter. But when the missive is returned for insufficient postage, a good Samaritan maid supplies the missing postage!-- A typical touch of Hitchcock irony. Anyway, Cause remains a decent, if flawed, 75 minutes of entertainment.
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