98 user 39 critic

Sudden Fear (1952)

Approved | | Film-Noir, Thriller | 24 October 1952 (Italy)
1:20 | Trailer
After an ambitious actor insinuates himself into the life of a wealthy middle-aged playwright and marries her, he plots with his mistress to murder her.


David Miller


Lenore J. Coffee (screenplay) (as Lenore Coffee), Robert Smith (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
Nominated for 4 Oscars. Another 2 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »





Complete credited cast:
Joan Crawford ... Myra Hudson Blaine
Jack Palance ... Lester Blaine
Gloria Grahame ... Irene Neves
Bruce Bennett ... Steve Kearney
Virginia Huston ... Ann Taylor
Mike Connors ... Junior Kearney (as Touch Conners)


Actor Lester Blaine has all but landed the lead in Myra Hudson's new play when Myra vetoes him because, to her, he doesn't look like a "romantic leading man." On a train from New York to San Francisco, Blaine sets out to prove Myra wrong...by romancing her. Is he sincere, or does he have a dark ulterior motive? The answer brings on a game of cat and mouse; but who's the cat and who's the mouse? Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


A Breathtaking Experience ! See more »


Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


RKO and the Mutual Broadcasting System teamed up to promote the film by sponsoring a contest in which listeners were urged to write in letters explaining what their first sudden fear was and how they overcame it. The top prize was a trip to Hollywood. See more »


The note read by Irene detailing the plan has different line wrap and layout than that prepared and displayed earlier that day in the film. See more »


[after being rejected for a romantic role because of his looks]
Lester Blaine: Miss Hudson, in your own native city of San Francisco, there's an art gallery in the Legion of Honor in which there's an oil painting of Casanova. It's quite obvious that you have never seen this painting. For your information, Miss Hudson, this is what Casanova looked like: he had big ears, a scar over one eye, a broken nose, and a wart on his chin, right here. I suggest, Miss Hudson, that when you return to San Francisco, you ...
See more »

Crazy Credits

One of the few films with an itemized credits listing for each wardrobe category designer. See more »

Alternate Versions

The previous 1999 DVD release was slightly altered. The sudden fear sequence eliminates only about 8 seconds but noteworthy ones, showing Joan Crawford's falling from a building, and being smothered by the Jack Palance character. These have been restored in the new 2016 Cohen Media Group blu-ray release. See more »


Referenced in Feud: Bette and Joan: Pilot (2017) See more »


by Elmer Bernstein and Jack Brooks
See more »

User Reviews

Excellent First Half
19 August 2017 | by claudio_carvalhoSee all my reviews

The wealthy playwright Myra Hudson (Joan Crawford) is the heiress of a great fortune. However she works and is donating part of her inheritance to foundations. When she watches the rehearsal of her play, she asks the director to replace the lead actor Lester Blaine (Jack Palance) that she believes is not adequate for the lead role. When she returns home, she meets Blane in the same train and they travel together. They stop in Chicago and soon Myra is seduced by him. They get married and live at Myra's home in San Francisco. Myra summons her lawyer Steve Kearney (Bruce Bennett) to change her will and transfer her fortune and properties to her beloved husband. She uses her Dictaphone to record the changes to be done in her will. However Steve will travel with his son Junior Kearney (Touch Conners) to Sacramento and they leave the room. Then Blaine and Junior's girlfriend Irene Neves (Gloria Grahame), who is his lover, come to the room to plot a scheme to kill Myra so that he will be the heir of her fortune. On the next morning, Myra learns that she has forgotten her Dictaphone on and when she will proceed to dictate her new will, she hears the conversation of her husband with Irene. What will she do now that she knows what are Blaine's real feelings and intention?

"Sudden Fear" is a suspenseful film-noir with excellent first half. The story of a wealthy spinster seduced by a crook is great until the moment that the lead character learns that he husband and his mistress are plotting to murder her. Her plan to save her life and get rid of them is also great. However her clumsy and moralist attitudes are terrible and reduces what could have been a little masterpiece to a good film-noir only. Joan Crawford has another magnificent performance. My vote is seven.

Title (Brazil): "Precipícios d'Alma" ("Precipices of the Soul")

11 of 13 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 98 user reviews »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.






Release Date:

24 October 1952 (Italy) See more »

Also Known As:

Sudden Fear See more »


Box Office


$720,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$11,126, 14 August 2016

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Contribute to This Page

We've Got Your Streaming Picks Covered

Looking for some great streaming picks? Check out some of the IMDb editors' favorites movies and shows to round out your Watchlist.

Visit our What to Watch page

Recently Viewed