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."
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.
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.
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.