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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Sudden Fear (1952)

A wealthy and successful playwright and heiress (Joan Crawford) has an actor (Jack Palance) fired from her newest Broadway show. On her way home to San Francisco, they meet up on the train and a romance develops and they are married. But shortly after their marriage, she discovers a diabolical plot with her as the victim! Based on the novel by Edna Sherry and directed by David Miller (MIDNIGHT LACE). This is an excellent "woman in peril" thriller or film noir if you prefer. It's near irresistible in its cleverness. Palance and Gloria Grahame as his mistress are so perfectly cast that it's eerie in its accuracy. Ironically (or perhaps not), the film's major asset is also the film's one liability. Yes, I'm talking about Crawford. The role needs a real movie star like her in the part to take command and she takes center stage and not even Palance and Grahame can upstage her. But her actual acting is ..... awful. She simply can't resist the histrionics and making faces. It's as if someone were calling out the emotions, "fear", "puzzlement", "love", "rage", "irony" and she dutifully trots out the faces from her repertoire. She's simply awful in the long scene when she discovers the plot against her! The B&W cinematography by Charles Lang is first rate and the film features a very early score by Elmer Bernstein. With Mike Connors, Bruce Bennett and Virginia Huston. 

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