Crisis (1950): Richard Brooks’ Directing Debut, Starring Cary Grant and Jose Ferrer

Writer Richard Brooks made his directorial debut in 1950 with Crisis, about an American couple who inadvertently become embroiled in a revolution, based on the short story “The Doubters” by George Tabori.

Grade: C (*1/2* out of *****)


Theatrical release poster

Cary Grant stars as Dr. Eugene Ferguson, a renowned brain surgeon, who with wife Helen (Paula Raymond) are vacationing in Latin America when a revolution breaks out. They are taken against their will to the country’s dictator, Raoul Farrago (José Ferrer), who needs a life-saving operation.

While Ferguson trains assistants for the delicate operation, he witnesses acts of brutality by the regime, especially by Colonel Adragon (Ramón Novarro), but his professionalism compels him to continue his work and do his best.

Roland Gonzales (Gilbert Roland), the rebel leader, kidnaps Helen to pressure her husband into making a fatal surgical “mistake.” However, his message to Ferguson is intercepted by Isabel Farrago (Signe Hasso), the patient’s wife, and the operation is a success.

Helen is released when Farrago dies and his government is overthrown.

One of Grant’s least known pictures, and one of the few that are overtly political, Crisis failed to impress critics or audiences.

It was a commercial flop at the box office: The film earned $891,000 in US and $512,000 foreign, resulting in a loss of $72,000.

Grant disliked his performance and disliked the whole experience of making it.

Crisis is also one of the few Grant movies, which lacks an appealing or desirable leading lady.  Both Paula Raymond and Signa Hasso are minor league actresses.

It would take another five years and another half a dozen movies for Brooks to get critical attention. Turning point in his career was when he made the controversial juvenile delinquency drama, Blackboard Jungle, in 1955, starring Glenn Ford and Sidney Poitier.

Cary Grant as Dr. Eugene Norland Ferguson
José Ferrer as Raoul Farrago
Paula Raymond as Helen Ferguson
Signe Hasso as Senora Isabel Farrago
Ramon Novarro as Colonel Adragon
Gilbert Roland as Roland Gonzales
Leon Ames as Sam Proctor


Directed by Richard Brooks
Written by George Tabori (story), Richard Brooks
Produced by Arthur Freed
Cinematography Ray June
Edited by Robert J. Kern
Music by Miklós Rózsa

Production and distribution company: MGM

Release date: July 7, 1950

Running time
96 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $1,581,000
Box office $1,403,000