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Sudden Fear (1952)

Cast: Joan Crawford, Joan Crawford, Jack Palance, more...
Director: David Miller, David Miller
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Rating: Not Rated
Studio: Kino
Genre: Vintage Noir
Running Time: 110 min.
Languages: English
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Joan Crawford stars as wealthy San Francisco heiress Myra Hudson, a successful playwright who meets Lester Blaine (Jack Palance) while casting her new play in New York. They meet again on the train ride back, fall in love and marry. Unknown to Myra, Lester is seeing mistress Irene Neves (Gloria Grahame), whom he still loves and has married only for her money. While looking through her study, Irene and Lester learn that Myra has made a will leaving only $10,000 a year to Lester (though if he remarries following her death he receives nothing). Seeing that the will has not yet taken effect, they plot to kill Myra without noticing that Myra's dictating machine is on and recording their conversation. After listening to the conversation and spending a sleepless night, Myra goes to Irene's apartment and steals a gun. Irene then lures Lester to the apartment, intending to kill him. Losing her nerve, she flees the apartment with Lester chasing her. The film has an exciting and surprising climax as all meet unexpectedly during the chase. Joan Crawford gives a fine, if melodramatic performance, and Jack Palance is amazingly effective playing against type as a leading man. Despite a slow start, this is a fine suspense thriller that earned Oscar nominations for Joan Crawford and Jack Palance and a nomination for Charles B. Lang Jr. for his striking black and white photography. ~ Linda Rasmussen, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Member Reviews

Sudden Idiocy by talltale September 12, 2006 - 6:04 PM PDT
0 out of 1 members found this review helpful
Joan Crawford: restrained and believable, quiet and charming, strong but able to apologize? You must be kidding. No, in SUDDEN FEAR she is all of these. For awhile. Then the bug-eyed scenery chewing begins and goes on and on until the enormously silly ending--by which time you will either have embraced the "camp" elements here (as did my companion) or feel greatly ill-used (as did I) because the beginning of the film was so surprisingly beguiling.

Still, any movie with Jack Palance looking mighty sexy and Gloria Grahame (it just hit me: she was the 50's Jennifer Tilly!) is worth a watch, even if the DVD transfer produced on this Kino DVD is pretty dreadful. Shame! And I understood that a new and better version had recently (August '06) been released as past of the Film Noir series from Kino. Donde esta, folks?

A San Francisco Treat by Dwoodwoo May 5, 2003 - 11:26 AM PDT
9 out of 9 members found this review helpful
Okay, so Oldkingcole, Mike B. and I settled for watching something at the GreenCine office after we learned all the X-Men 2 tickets were sold out at the Metreon and AMC 1000. This was our pick. A classic, though may be just a tad short of being a definitive classic. Lots of San Francisco local color, more so than seen in Dark Passage, another film noir often mentioned as the most San Francisco flavored, but I have to say that "Sudden Fear" trumps it: Dancing at the Fairmont, numerous gratuitous Lombard Street shots, a walk in Muir Woods, horse racing at Tanforan, a specific mention of 1800 Scott Street in Pacific Heights. Palance is visceral as a Homme Fatale actor who romances well-to-do playwright Joan Crawford for her $$$ -- an unoriginal set-up but the moment to moment suspense is killer. Highlight: There's a not-so-subtle implied kinkiness between Palance and his female conspirator (Gloria Graham) that is particularly spicy, if even only in a retro kinda way (got cat-calls from my little audience). Lingering camera shots are well-utilized allowing the actors, particularly Crawford and Palance, to really work through a set of emotions in a single cut -- yet, the film does not wander into poor pacing at any point. Film gets progressively darker, literally, as it goes on, and certain subjective sequences are memorable, particularly the "mind's eye" sequence focusing on Crawford towards the climax. This movie could as well be named, "Murderous Mental Chess Game: Author vs. Actor Smackdown." I doubt that the duel between Ah-nold and the new Terminator will be as involving as the match up here. The very end of the movie is a bit of a disappoint, all agreed...but barring that, a worthwhile evening of entertainment.

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 7.77)
52 Votes
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San Francisco Movies
A complete-as-I-can-make-it list of movies shot in and around SF (with LOTS of help from and the Bay Area. I'll try to put comments and info about the movies and rate the ones I've seen. Please email me with any errors or add. info.
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