These aspects of the human condition are intrinsically unchanging. The external events that help shake them may change in the specifics of its manifestation may be modified by the particulars of the current time, but what is important; their inexorable influence on human behavior remains constant. This movie contains an extraordinary cast of actors that unfortunately may not be as impressive to modern audiences as it should be the appearance of these names on a theater marquee was guaranteed to generate ticket sales. Topping the bill was Frank Sinatra, commonly known as 'Old Blue Eyes.' During the peak of his popularity, he was one of the most popular entertainers in the world. His appearances as a singer would instantly sell out. His nightclub back helps make Las Vegas the venue for top talent that continues to today. The commonly believed conjecture at the time was Mr. Sinatra's career was assisted by powerful men suspected of having ties to organized crime. Regardless of what brought him to film many of his performances are staggering in their intensity. His portrayal in this film of a hardened, professional assassin is frightening in its realism and its ability to incite the primitive fear center of your brain. American actor, Sterling Hayden had a long and illustrious career dominated by leading man roles primarily in residence and film noir mysteries. The other A-list name on the billing is Jackie Gleason. While primarily known as a comedian and one of the founders of the television stables, the variety show, and sitcom, like degrees and frequently distinguish himself as an accomplished dramatic actor. Today this situation remains true. It appears that, and an increasing number of established comedians have undertaken the migration of intensely dramatic roles. This situation is still found in both film and television, a comedian moving towards dramic roles tend to be more successiful than dramatic actors attempting comedy.
To bolster the postwar feeling of national pride, the President of the United States is making personal appearances in California. The route to his next rally would take the Presidential entourage through the small town of Suddenly, California. Before the arrival of the Presidential train a group of men visits the home of the Benson family consisting of Pop Benson (Jackie Gleason), his daughter-in-law, Ellen (Nancy Gates) and his grandson, Peter (Kim Charney), commonly referred to as 'Pidge.' Their home has a unique distinction in the town; it resides on top of the hill with direct line of sight to the train station where the President will appear. It is crucial to consider this plot point within its historical context. Before the proliferation of television, and the construction of transcontinental highways, many politicians utilized railroad system to travel from one town to another. Using the extensive railway system running throughout the country, the politician, and his staff would use a private train to travel from one event to the next. As a standard practice, it became known as whistle-stop campaigning. The use of this mode of transportation for a sitting President to visit his constituents would be entirely natural to the audiences of the mid-50s. The Benson family soon discovers that the group of were not the advanced government team of agents as they have claimed. In reality, there a team of highly paid hitmen hired to assassinate the President. The merciless leader of the team of assassins is John Baron (Frank Sinatra), a hardened, sociopathic killer. He can snuff out a human life with less concern than an average person disposing of a used Kleenex in the trash. Baron and his pair of lackeys forcibly take the hapless family hostage.
Ellen has lost her husband during the war, and as such is vehemently opposed to Pidge even playing with a toy gun. Sheriff Tod Shaw (Sterling Hayden) had seen the boy admiring one in a toy store window and asked what he wanted to do with the weapon. His response was unusual for that time in American history. Rather than being a soldier and killing enemies of the country, Pidge wanted to be a sheriff when he grew up and use the gun to capture criminals. Impressed and somewhat flattered by the response. Sheriff Shaw buys the toy for the boy is a present. But his mother comes to gather him at the toy store. She is quite upset over the gift. A necessary part of most films to establish the moral standing of the characters. In a film noir is crucial to provide the foundation of moral ambiguity that is a defining characteristic of the genre.
At the train station, the sheriff greets a group of Secret Service agents that have just arrived to secure the location for the President's detail. As a result of its vantage point, the Benson home was a natural security concern, prompting a visit by the sheriff and Secret Service agent. Shortly after they arrive, they are ambushed by the gangsters shoot Agent Carney and wound Sheriff fracturing his arm. Sheriff Shaw joins the three members of the Benson family as hostages. Baron's insidious plan is to use a window in the Benson home as a place to set up a powerful sniper rifle assassinating the President as soon as he steps into view. Despite the fact that the living room is adequately roomy the inherent tension of the situation that as it intensifies induces an escalating sense of claustrophobia. In 'Twelve Angry Men,' Sidney Lumet achieved this effect by means of his mastery of camera lens and how he incorporated it into his distinctive directorial style. In contrast, Lewis Allen employs a different methodology substituting a mastery of pacing and an amazing control over the revelation of the exposition to illicit a feeling of progressive claustrophobia to the viewers. The use of this procedure pulls the audience into the room with the Benson family able to relate to the overwhelming terror induced by proximity to a psychopath like John Baron.
The near perfection of this film heavily relied on the exceptional talent displayed by Mr. Sinatra. It might appear odd that a man who attained such universal notoriety as a crooner should also possess such an extraordinary talent a dramatic actor, but this film remains as a testament to this undeniable fact. Mr. Sinatra had an innate ability to discern the deepest motivations of his character channeling that comprises the human condition. Hem to the audience, connecting them to the most primitive emotions and deeply ingrained psychological impulses. It is this visceral reaction prompted by physiological and emotional manipulation that ensures this film a timeless position as a masterpiece.
This latest release is from 'The Film Detective' collection hand has been fully restored from archived 35mm stock back to the original theatrical aspect ratio. The film had fallen into public dolman resulting in a plethora of substandard editions. Many contain terribly scratched video and muddled audio, an unforgivable tragedy for a film of this caliber. There are even releases committing such travesties as colorizing the movie to altering the aspect ratio to 'fit your screen'. One example of heinous mistreatment was time compression shortening the running time and destroying the maliciously planed pacing. If you have any of these copies in your collection show respect to the artistry and immediately replace them with this edition. To make certain you have the correct copy the UPC is 191091180020, accept nothing else.
Not even Frank Sinatra - who is the only decent thing about this, for nostalgia sake only - cant keep it from completely stinking.
Sterling Haden is wooden as usual -
I did not like any of the rest of this either. It had hints of something interesting, but completely fell apart as it went on.
Sad, but true.
2 blank mugs out of 5
Stark black and white footage. Sweaty, hostage scenario much like Desperate Hours but Frank lacks a fitting rival in Hayden, who gives his usual wooden performance.
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.
Overall, a very tight and suspenseful film from start to finish. It sure gives a great "bang for the buck". Exceptional throughout.