Suddenly - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Suddenly Reviews

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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 20, 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
May 9, 2012
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.
½ July 19, 2011
A really good performance by Sinatra but everything else was quite lame as the film functions as an argument for conservative American values.
July 15, 2011
Suspenseful and thrilling.
April 16, 2011
Excellent black & white. Frank Sinatra should have won an Oscar for his acting on this one. Complex simplicity..,
December 27, 2010
It's about these hitmen, see, supposing to fix the President. Sinatra's a screwy kid wired all wrong who leads the bums and almost gets away with it but for a small town of real American citizens who give him one in the eye.
½ November 29, 2010
gotta love Sinatra when he's at his craziest!
Super Reviewer
November 9, 2010
A very interesting movie a thriller and a political drama, plus a good cast and story. I really liked it.
November 4, 2010
This is an intriguing little film though pretty predictable. You kinda know how the film is gonna end, however the way in which Frank Sintra's character and his gang actually attempt to commit the assassination is what makes the film interesting, they take over an ex-FBI agents house and pretty much take everyone there hostage. It's quite a stupid thing for anyone to do in their situation LOL but I guess you just gotta suspend disbelief for a while to get into the film. Frank Sinatra is pretty good in this, he's known for his music but he wasn't a shabby actor either. Sterling Hayden is great as always, he's such an under appreciated actor, I've never been let down by any of his performances. He just has some great screen presence and that voice is unforgettable. Though I wish the film concentrated more on him but I guess the objective was the assassination. The rest of the cast is adequate...the little boy was annoying though LOL. Overall, its a pretty obscure film..that's worth a look I guess if your into that sorta thing.
August 9, 2010
"Show me a guy with feelings and I'll show you a sucker." Fun performances from Sterling Hayden, a delightfully scummy Frank Sinatra and a climactic bit of hostage skulduggery keep this rather dull assassination thriller from venturing into The Land of Shut the Hell Up And Kill Your Captives Already!!!! Yeah, House Arrest with Sinatra is rather gabby. But if you accept the situation there are some good lines peppered throughout and Sinatra as a baddie? Fun to watch him squirm under Hayden's moralizing. Not great, but interesting. VF.
½ June 7, 2010
Hammy acting hurts the overall experience of the film, which features some interesting plot developments in a relatively short running time.
June 6, 2010
Believe it or not, hired gunman John Baron (Frank Sinatra of "From Here to Eternity") wants to assassinate the President of the United States in this tense little suspense yarn so he can earn a half-million dollars. Baron claims that he has nothing against the president. Ole blue eyes and his two henchmen show up in the sleepy town of Suddenly, California, posing as FBI agents. Meanwhile, Sheriff Tod Shaw (Sterling Hayden) receives a telegram about the President's impending trip along with a request to provide transportation for the chief executive to a ranch. Secret Service agents swarm into Suddenly, and the Chief Secret Service agent, Dan Carney (Willis Bouchey of "Dirty Dingus Magee"), sends his men out to check all the buildings opposite the train station. Carney is particularly worried about a house at a hill that looks down at the train station. Shaw informs him that no assassin could hole up in that house. Shaw explains that Pop Benson (James Gleason of "The Clock"), a retired Secret Service agent with a bad ticker, lives in that house. Carney is surprised and pleased by this coincidence because he knows Pop. Nevertheless, he warns Shaw that a threat has been made against the President. Shaw and Carney climb into Shaw's black police cruiser and go up to Pop's house, never suspecting what lies ahead of them. While Carney has been squaring Shaw about the situation, Baron fools Pop, Benson's daughter-in-law Helen (Nancy Gates of "Comanche Station") and her son Pidge (Kim Charney of "The Werewolf")into believing that he is a genuine FBI agent so that when Shaw and Carney enter the house, everything appears calm and peaceful. When Pop mentions Baron's name, Carney tries to whip out his pistol, but he is shot to death in a brief gunfight that leaves Shaw wounded. Baron and his hostages begin the process of sweating it out in a house atop a hill near the railroad station until the chief executive arrives by train to go on his annual fishing trip. Helen's husband Peter is dead; he died in the war, so Helen is opposed to guns on any condition. She refuses to let Pidge watch either war movies or own a gun. Eventually, we learn that John Baron was a World War II hero who killed 27 German soldiers and received a Silver Star. He grew up as an orphan and drifted around America until he found a temporary home in the U.S. Army. Director Lewis Allen and scenarist Richard Sale maintain enough tension as our heroic hostages plot to thwart Baron. He has bolted a rifle to a table and positioned the table in front of the living room window with a clear view of the train depot. Things really heat up in the last quarter-hour after the television set repairman shows up. Sinatra is thoroughly repulsive as the psycho killer who was drummed out of the military on a Section 8. Reportedly, Sinatra pulled this picture out of circulation after the assassination of President Kennedy. Clocking in at a lean, mean 75 minutes, "Suddenly" lives up its name. The ending is ironic.
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