Crisis (1950)"Doctor, do many people die in an operation like this?"
"Under the best conditions, about 12 percent. These are not the best conditions."
When you picture Cary Grant in a more serious film you might think of one of his Hitchcock thrillers. This gem is less well-known because it doesn't amp up to suspenseful sequences. Instead, there's consistent intrigue over how everything is going to turn out. In the film, Grant plays a brain surgeon in an unnamed Latin country who is essentially kidnapped along with his wife (Paula Raymond) to save the life of the country's highly-despised leader (JosÚ Ferrer). His good morality is challenged as the evidence stacks up the amount of good he might do for the entire country if he were to accidentally botch the operation.
With a minimum of comedy to play, Grant is still awfully good in this. He has a gentleman's way of getting tough, able to provoke armed men to shoot with the confidence that if he dies so does their leader. His dependability is matched and sometimes secondary to Ferrer, who leans so hard into the character's humanity you start to wonder if he's really such a tyrant or if it's the brain tumor that's causing such inhumane decisions. For a character that should draw obvious similarities to our current President, Ferrer's dictator is singular instead of a stand-in for all such rulers.
"Nothing destroys so much as civil war. Now, what is the answer to civil war? What stops it?
Compromise? No! Truce? No! To give in? Never! The only answer is war. Real war, against an outside country.
Any country. Everybody must come to the defense of his own country. Patriotism is a great weapon.
Brother stops fighting brother when a stranger attacks."
I wouldn't call the writing especially clever, but the plotting is unusually intelligent for a time in cinema when all motivations are usually spelled out and underlined. For example, there's a situation late in the film and we get some of the information but not all of it so that, like Grant, we're unsure just how much danger he is actually in or if the revolutionaries against the leader are just as evil in their deeds. For a thriller set on one path of suspense you have to nail the ending, and I'm happy to report this one does.Rating: ★ ★ ★ - Good