SUDDENLY!

        Directly in the wake of his Oscar-winning comeback in From Here to Eternity, Frank Sinatra took on the role of a psychopathic hit man in this taut, low-budget film noir. The choice shows how interested Sinatra was in serious acting during the mid- to late '50s; there's nothing remotely likable about this angular, neurotic assassin. He's in the small town of Suddenly to kill the president, who is passing through on a quick train stop. Sinatra makes hostages of a local family and sheriff Sterling Hayden, and the film is basically a countdown to the president's arrival, with Sinatra's patter getting loonier as the day goes on. Aside from the interest of Sinatra's performance (very focused and downright perverse at times), and the film's place in the American noir tradition, Suddenly is uncannily prophetic on the subject of assassination. It's clear that the killer is doing it for the fame as well as the money, a theme that would crop up in later confessions of real-life killers or would-be killers.

Perhaps the 1954 film was too prophetic; like Sinatra's Manchurian Candidate, this movie was pulled from circulation for years after the JFK assassination. According to Kitty Kelley's bio of Sinatra, Lee Harvey Oswald saw this film a few days before he took rifle in hand.

Frank Sinatra  as  John Baron
Sterling Hayden  as  Sheriff Tod Shaw
James Gleason  as  Pop Benson
Nancy Gates  as  Ellen Benson
Kim Charney  as  Pidge
Willis Bouchey  as  Dan Carney
Christopher Dark  as  Bart Wheeler 

PRODUCER - Robert Bassler
DIRECTOR - Lewis Allen
WRITER - Richard Sale
ORIGINAL MUSIC - David Raksin
CINEMATOGRAPHY - Charles G. Clarke
EDITOR - John F. Schreyer
ART DIRECTION - Frank Paul Sylos
Availability:  35mm; High-Definition Video; DVD
Date of Release:  1954
75 Minutes; B&W; Mono; 1.75:1
PLEASE NOTE: Our one-of-a-kind 35mm print is only available to change-over houses with the highest level of projection expertise.  No plattering permitted.

 

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