Re-Watching the Classics: Suddenly

Suddenly is a classic film noir with two of the greats. We have Frank Sinatra and Sterling Hayden in this battle of good and evil. the film is from 1954 and was written by Richard Sale and directed by Lewis Allen. Frank Sinatra got top billing for this film because he had just won the Academy Award for his performance in From Here to Eternity. I recently watched the 2 part documentary on the life of Frank Sinatra from H.B.O. Films, and I got to say, his life was interesting, and could be the basis of a good noir film! I was hoping they would bring up this film, but unfortunately I did not get any new insight on this. The reason I wanted a little more information on this is supposedly Lee Harvey Oswald watched this film only weeks before he shot John F. Kennedy. The documentary did go into depth about how close JFK and Sinatra where, but did not touch on this film. The other story, which Ben Mankiewicz told just a few weeks ago on Turner Classic Movies while talking about this film, is that Sinatra was so upset about Oswald possibly using this film as inspiration to kill his friend, he had this and The Manchurian Candidate pulled off of television play. Others say this is false and he never tried to do that. If you think Sinatra would not have enough pull as an actor/singer to do something like this, watch the documentary and find out how much pull this man had in not only the entertainment industry, but in politics as well.

This story starts out with a small glimpse into a sleepy little town in California named Suddenly. The Sheriff is Sterling Hayden who protects this little town and is well liked. He has a thing for a widow played by Nancy Gates and her son looks up to Hayden. Soon the town is a buzz with something big coming. Hayden takes charge getting ready for the Secret Service, they are coming to inspect the town because the President is coming through on his way to play golf down the road. As Hayden is helping them, three F.B.I. Agents lead by Sinatra, go to Gates’ house to make sure everything is clear for the President. Gates lives with her Father-in-Law who happened to be an Ex-Secret Service Agent. One of the current Secret Service Agents worked with the Father-in-Law and wants to personally go up to the house and say hi. Hayden takes the agent to the house and when the Secret Service Agent meets the F.B.I. Agents all hell breaks loose.

This is a really amazing little film and well worth watching. Hayden is good as always and Sinatra is brilliant as the psychopathic killer that the war created. Most of this movie takes place in a small house, but the tension blows the roof of this one. I think fans of Sinatra and Hayden will obviously enjoy this film as well as classic film noir fans. On the other hand if you don’t know why Sinatra was such a huge star, give this a watch and see how he could command a room. This would make an amazing double feature with The Manchurian Candidate.

3 thoughts on “Re-Watching the Classics: Suddenly

  1. Great writeup. I think one of the reasons why this movie is so fine is that the cast are good all the wayt down. They all succeed in making us invest in them in one way or the other.


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