7.5/10
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Sudden Fear (1952)

Approved | | Film-Noir, Thriller | 24 October 1952 (Italy)
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.

Director:

David Miller

Writers:

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

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Cast

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

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

Taglines:

A Thrilling New High In Suspense Melodrama! See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

24 October 1952 (Italy) See more »

Also Known As:

Maskierte Herzen See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$720,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

As the film's executive producer, Joan Crawford was heavily involved in all aspects of the production. She personally hired Lenore J. Coffee as the film's screenwriter, David Miller as director and suggested Elmer Bernstein as composer. She insisted on Charles Lang being hired as the film's cinematographer and personally cast Jack Palance and Gloria Grahame as her co-stars. See more »

Goofs

After Lester puts down Irene's telephone, he calls out her name three times, but on the second, his lips don't move at all. See more »

Quotes

Myra Hudson: [to Lester] I haven't even got my lipstick on! A woman has to wear lipstick. I'd feel positively naked without it!
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 »

Connections

Featured in Joan Crawford: The Ultimate Movie Star (2002) See more »

Soundtracks

Sudden Fear
by Irving Taylor and Arthur Altman
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Crawford Tops In S/M Noir
10 February 2006 | by HandlinghandelSee all my reviews

Joan Crawford is an heiress and a famous playwright. During rehearsals, she insists that Jack Palance be fired: It's not that he isn't a good actor. He just doesn't have the matinée idol looks, she maintains. Before we know it, the play has been successfully launched and she is on a train back to San Francisco. Who should kind of turn up on this train but Palance? He and Crawford play poker and she falls in love with him. OK, it seems: He wasn't right for a Broadway Don Juan. But for an unmarried lady of a certain age like her, he has just what it takes.

The fact that Crawford and Palance (the actors) have no chemistry isn't a problem. In a way, it works in the movie's favor. We know he hasn't forgotten the humiliation she put him through. We know she thought him not so hot to begin with.

Gloria Graham is used well as his girlfriend. They're kind of rough with each other too. He speaks of breaking all her bones, rather casually and almost endearingly.

Once Crawford and Palance have married, the suspense heats up. It's a highly suspenseful film -- well written and well directed. Palance is nimble in his role and Crawford is at her very best too. My problem with it is that I've seen it a few times and the print has never been good, which is a problem in the dark scenes toward the end.

But compare this with other movies Crawford was making at around the same time. "Torch Song" is one of the most outrageously ludicrous star vehicles of all time. "Queen Bee" is pretty funny, too -- unintentionally, of course. "Female on the Beach" ... In all the others, men come from miles to fall at Joan's feet. (Speaking of feet, "Sudden Fear" seems, for whatever reason to have more than a usual number of close-ups of its stars stockinged feet and her shoes.) No one has ever seen anyone so beautiful as Crawford in these movies. Maybe this made sense at the time but it doesn't now. She was near 50. Inthose days, this was like being near 65 for a woman.

In "Sudden Fear," she is an old maid. No one comments on her appearance one way or another. She is rich and successful but it doesn't seem that we're meant to view her as a great beauty. What we have instead is a beautiful movie -- quite possibly her best.


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