Suddenly Reviews

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½ October 5, 2015
That's a funny name for a town.

The small town of Suddenly is expecting the president to arrive by train. Meanwhile, three gangsters arrive in town and take a family hostage whose window happens to be directly across from where the president will step off the train. They expect to snipe the president but as more resources and security arrive, their cover and the plan quickly becomes at risk.

"Show me a guy with feelings and I'll show you a sucker."

Lewis Allen, director of Decisions at Midnight, Whirlpool, Illegal, A Bullet for Joey, The Unseen, The Perfect Marriage, Desert Fury, and So Evil My Love, delivers Suddenly. The storyline for this picture is fairly good and well written. There are great characters, scripts, and subplots and the characters evolve well. The acting is awesome and the cast includes Frank Sinatra, Sterling Hayden, James Gleason, Nancy Gates, and Willis Bouchey.

"It's not polite to say she like that...especially about your mother."

Suddenly is a movie I came across on Netflix while looking through Frank Sinatra films and had to add to my wish list. This was awesome and I loved his delivery in this film. Overall, this a must see Sinatra classic that is worth your time.

"Big, beautiful, booby trap."

Grade: A-
½ September 28, 2015
Any movie where Sterling Hayden has to stop Frank Sinatra from killing the president deserves 4.5 stars. Slow to get going but worth a watch.
½ August 24, 2015
"Suddenly" is shockingly one of the better thrillers to come out of the 1950s as Frank Sinatra plays an unusual role as an assassin trying to kill the president before the town sheriff and a widow try to stop him.
Clintus M.
Super Reviewer
May 4, 2015
In spite of the fact that I've seen Frank Sinatra in a wide variety of roles, I was nonetheless surprised and captivated by his performance in Suddenly. I had never heard of this 1954 film before, but I found it in a used bin at a good price so bought it. The film itself is a good, tense thriller about an attempted assassination of the president, but don't get this confused with The Manchurian Candidate. Sinatra's enthusiastic performance as the gleeful psychotic hit-man is really all this picture's got going for it. The rest is pretty standard.
The theme is that there are unrepentant, amoral killers out there, but they're the exception not the rule. Sterling Hayden's character, the Sherriff is presented as the sacrificing hero- the GI who only does what has to be done. Sinatra's character is someone who enjoys killing-not standard, even among outlaws and gangsters.
April 5, 2015
For his entire career, Frank Sinatra remained the skinny kid (and later skinny legend) with a voice that made you believe in God. That voice, that voice, was and is one of the many wonders the entertainment industry has given us over the years. Throughout the 1940s, he was placed in throwaway musical comedies that only continued to paint him as a singer first and foremost - but the 1950s changed all that typecasting stuff.
Beginning with his stunning performance in 1953's "From Here to Eternity", for which he won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, audiences were introduced to Frank Sinatra The Actor; he was no longer just a singer who decided that headlining movies would be a fun side-gig. Today, only the nerdy cinephiles seem to appreciate his stunning acting abilities, while the rest of the world paints him as Old Blue Eyes. Either party will find themselves bathing in a hearty basin of nostalgia, but exploring all of his occupational triumphs is nothing short of astonishment. Singers turned actors were and are never ever this talented.
"Suddenly" continued his "serious actor" path, placing him in a low-budget thriller and having much of the focus lie single-handedly upon him. Like "Dial M for Murder", much of the action takes place in a single location - a house in the suburbs - and like "The Manchurian Candidate", the assassination of the president may or may not be the climax. At just 77 minutes, it's a tight, to-the-point psychological exercise, giving Sinatra one of his juiciest roles as the assassin. It's an unexpected character for an actor who always played the hero.
In "Suddenly", Sinatra portrays John Baron, a psychopathic sniper whose arrival coincides with that of the country's leader, who is stopping by the small town of Suddenly, California for a visit. John's intent is to ambush him and successful exterminate him, with payoff. Finding a perfect safe house in the suburbs, Baron and his men hold the Benson family hostage until they meet the point of no return.
The film is a minor work in Sinatra's filmography, but it's also an important one. It shows a performer unafraid to explore low-budget but challenging territories, curious about his abilities and willing to see how far he could go. As Baron, Sinatra is surprisingly formidable, managing to make us forget about his charming past and replace it with unbridled fear. Perhaps "Suddenly" is too stagey for my taste, but it manages to be taut and pulse-pounding when we least expect it. This isn't a film concerned with deep characterizations or in your face action - it is a film about acting, writing, and directing, and how the three characteristics can take you to places you never thought you would have traveled to before.
½ March 9, 2014
Sinatra's light blue eyes appear white in this black and white. This helps his performance. He really was a fine actor.
½ December 8, 2011
Really dark subject matter for the mid 1950's, a well done and fast little thriller, would probably make a good play (few sets and low budget). Mostly good screenplay as well, and the acting is also good (the kid is just a little annoying in his delivery). Interesting role for Sinatra to play, I can't see most movie stars of his time willing to play such a dark (and as we find out, and probably because he had to be that way at the time, a weakling) character, and Sinatra does a very good job.
½ April 20, 2013
ouch,, i expect something more than this, it's a movie about Sinatra being a chatty sensitive assassin :D
½ April 3, 2013
Suddenly is a pretty good film, even after all these years, and Frank Sinatra is still quite intimidating as the lead antagonist, John Baron.
March 11, 2013
What I liked best was that Frank [Sinatra] wore a fedora throughout, even indoors.
January 20, 2013
A Tense Little Thriller Without Any Frills--Old Blue Eyes Elevates a B film!!
December 8, 2012
Almost half a century ago, the United States suffered one of the worst tragedies of the twentieth century. That tragedy was the assassination of then President John F. Kennedy. Conspiracy theories aside, what many people might not know is that according to author Kitty Kelley, it was Sinatra's 1954 movie, Suddenly that was the alleged influence behind Lee Harvey Oswald's assassination of then President John F. Kennedy. According to her bio on the singer, His Way: The Unauthorized Biography of Frank Sinatra, Oswald allegedly watched the movie the day before he changed history. As a result of this accusation, the movie was pulled for years before it was finally allowed back into the public realm. And now audiences can see how Suddenly may have played a role in that dark day for themselves as it has been re-issued on Blu-ray by Image Entertainment.

Suddenly is hardly the longest movie ever made. But that's not a bad thing, either. In a time when it seems like so many movie studios seem to be competing with one another to see who can make the longest possible story, this movie comes in at a little less than ninety minutes. Throughout the course of its hour and fifteen minute run time, audiences are kept engaged thanks to the growing tension between Sinatra's psychopathic ex-military officer John Baron and Sterling Hayden's clean cut fellow ex-military officer Sheriff Tod Shaw. Much like 12 Angry Men which wouldn't see the light of day for another three years, what really heightens the story's tension is that the majority of the story takes place in a limited set. This is a minor factor to some audiences. But in viewing the movie from a more analytical vantage point, it's a factor that plays a much larger factor. Understanding this makes the movie that much more interesting and worth the watch. Add in the understanding of the controversy surrounding the movie, and audiences get a movie that is that much more intriguing, underappreciated, and worth the watch.

A single viewing of Suddenly shows how Lee Harvey Oswald could easily have been influenced to commit a copy-cat act. But it's not necessarily the attempted act in question that will have audiences talking after watching. If anything it's Baron's (Sinatra) comment late in the movie that he wasn't the one committing the act. Rather he was doing it for someone else, purely for the money. Baron told Sheriff Shaw that he didn't know for whom he was working and didn't care to know, either. If anything this brief moment will surely re-ignite the discussions between conspiracy theorists about whether or not Oswald worked alone. On another level, it serves as one more example of the possible power of media to influence real life. Should there be any credence to the influence of Suddenly on Oswald's actions, it can be just as strongly used as another warning to the media in regards to taking responsibility for the potential impact of what is written for TV shows and movies.

Getting back to the story behind Suddenly as art. Writer Richard Sale accomplished quite the feat with this movie. It wastes no time establishing the story's plot and its cast. As a result of this quickness, the rest of the story is spent in just a few rooms of a house. For most film makers and script writers today, limiting a story to so few sets would prove a mind twist, so to speak. That's because so many of today's movies rely more on flash-boom-bang special effects and overt sexuality to drive their stories. But for Sale, his writing was solely story based. It allowed for more tension between Sinatra and Hayden. And that tension is what keeps audiences so engaged. There was obviously some chemistry between the two as they expertly played off of one another throughout the story making it increasingly emotional. The chemistry between the two men made for a movie that was entirely enthralling; so much so that it's ironic that it wasn't Hayden whose character was ultimately responsible for the movie's final outcome. That outcome won't be ruined for those who haven't yet seen it. But it is an ending that has quite the twist in and of itself. It's a twist that will leave audiences completely breathless after everything that had happened through the course of this underrated thriller. That twist ending is the icing on the cake for Sale's writing here. And combined with the equally expert acting of both Hayden and Sinatra (and their supporting cast), it all comes together for a movie that is at the same time underrated and underappreciated. And now that it's available once more on Blu-ray, it's a movie that every movie lover should see at least once.
September 27, 2012
Even though Suddenly has some sudden moments of greatness, it's rather a tedious attempt at making a thrilling noir film. The storyline is provocative and invites to a debate about president assassinations plot that actually did work out (Tod Shaw at one point claims: it never worked out and it won't now). Frank Sinatra in his probably most outstanding performance ever, as the impulsive thug who cares only about money.
Super Reviewer
August 29, 2012
Tense, brisk and entirely forgettable, "Suddenly" is one of the lesser known thrillers from the 50s. Minus an interesting premise and a creepy performance from Frank Sinatra, there isn't anything real notable about it. Effectively but predictably made, "Suddenly" isn't an accomplished thriller, but it does what it does well and does it pretty darn fast.
½ June 18, 2012
The setting was believable and appropriate for the plot. It reminded me of Mayberry, NC (The Andy Griffith Show). Frank Sinatra did a great job of portraying John Baron - a cold-hearted assasin who cared too much about what others thought about him, including his hostages. I didn't care too much for Ellen Benson (Nancy Gates) or Sheriff Tod Shaw (Sterling Hayden). There characters had no originality at all. But I did like Pidge (Kim Charney). His character brought life to the plot as the brave-wise-cracking little boy. Overall I enjoyed this film and probably would watch it again, to get a better understanding of John Baron played so well by Sinatra. I didn't rate this film high because most of the other characters were pretty flat.
Super Reviewer
June 4, 2008
Nice bit of film noir with Sinatra playing a cold as ice assassin out to kill the president. Sinatra and Hayden make good adversaries. The script is tight and the director knows how to build up the suspense. Still holds up today.
½ January 22, 2012
A must-see for any Sinatra fan, Frankie delivers one of his most powerful performances as the psychotic assassin, and manages to shine like a star despite performing opposite terrible actors, cheesy dialogue, and stupid plot holes. But hey, it's the 50's, and considering that, the film comes together for a great experience.
½ December 12, 2011
Nothing to go out of your way for but a decent way to while away a Saturday afternoon.
August 12, 2011
Before 1963 films like Suddenly probably didn't hit the public mind very hard in terms of hard edge reality. Post-1963 films like Suddenly, and Suddenly in particular, carry with them a heavier tone and dose of reality. As a film Suddenly is well made. It is one of the many examples of Sinatra's Jack-of-all-trades versatility.
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