Thursday, July 12, 2012

Sudden Fear 1952

If you can accept the premise of Joan Crawford as a very successful and rich playwright and Jack Palance as a romantic lead, then you should be able to enjoy this twisty but somewhat ludicrous femme jep movie from the early 50’s. Joan who was 47 at the time and approaching her gorgon period plays as I said a hot playwright who is also an heiress with a large home in San Francisco where most of the movie takes place. The film opens with a rehearsal of her new play in New York, with Jack Palance playing the lead. Joan has qualms about him not being romantic enough (read handsome) to play the part and has him fired.  So of course on the cross country train ride that Joan is taking back home to San Francisco after the play opens to smash reviews, who should also be on the train but none other than Jack. Joan is all so sorry for firing him, and before you know it they’re playing poker and having breakfast as the train speeds on to the city by the bay. Well Joan of course falls madly in love with Jack and soon they’re in montages taking in the sights, and dining and dancing in all the hot spots.  And then they get married and its darling this and darling that until Joan discovers by accident a devious plot Jack is hatching with his old girlfriend played with hellish relish by Gloria Grahame, all blonde and bad. Joan who has had many moments of over the top acting in her career really soars in this one   and I swear at one point I thought her eyes were going to pop out of her head.  Palance who excelled at playing villains throughout his long career simply gives away the show by being well Jack Palance. What with his unattractive face that looks like a cubist portrait with mud thrown on it, or a bruised boxer’s mug, and in fact one of his famous roles was as the battered fighter in “Requiem For A Heavyweight” that he did on Playhouse 90 in 1956 andh e does have a down and dirty animal magnetism that works well in his scenes with Grahame (kiss me, kiss me hard she moans to Palance).  The film is a bit slow and tedious in parts, because there’s so much plot but the last hour is good and goosy with a beautifully done if improbable ending. Smoothly directed by David Miller who began his career directing sports shorts like “Table Tennis”, “Hurling,” “Racing Canines”, and “Aquatic Artistry” and went on to direct feature films most notably “Lonely Are The Brave” in 1962. With a good thumping score by Elmer Bernstein, and cinematography by the great Charles Lang who received an Oscar nomination for his work.  Also Oscar nominations for costume, Actress and supporting actor.   Surprisingly considering that this is a Kino release both the sound and the transfer leave much to be desired.


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