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LornaHansonForbes

Oh wow! SUDDEN FEAR! (1952) on 12/14 at 8:00 PM

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As for Joan's Modern Screen quotes,one must suspend the notion that Joan was ever honest with a reporter...A REPORTER!!!

(JOAN CLENCHES FISTS, PREPARED TO STRIKE CHRISTINA)

 

MD22_150.jpg

 

"Barbara, PLEEEEEASE!!!!!!!"

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Thought I'd do a little write-up of Sudden Fear.  

 

Although technically classified as a noir, Sudden Fear is actually in that category of film known as the Joan-o-drama. Most of these are quasi noirs, but with the addition of Joan Crawford's special "woman's picture" (as they were called then) trope of a bright career woman who falls in love with the wrong guy. You always get lots of Joan segueing from self-possessed in-control business boss to emotional wreck lady, including many close-ups of Joan looking intensely frightened / furious / obsessed / panic-stricken or any combination of the above.

 

That all sounds a bit smart-azzy, and I apologize for that, because in fact, I really like Joan-o-dramas. They're invariably fascinating and fun to watch. And they've got that spoonful of noir I love.

 

Anyway - Sudden Fear is an absolutely classic Joan-o-drama. Joan starts out as her usual poised capable boss lady, in this case a playwright - a rich playwright  - rich from an inheritance, although her plays do pretty well in their own write (sorry). She meets and of course falls in love with the disturbingly odd- looking ( as Eugenia put it, I think) Jack Palance. Oh, Joan, little do you know he's only out for your money.  And he's got a sexy tart on the side. Between Jack and the tart, a plan is hatched to do away with Joan before she can give away all her inheritance (oh Joan, why would you want to do that?) so Jack, the loving husband, can have it all bequeathed to him.

 

There's a turning-point in Sudden Fear where you have to reach out for your suspension-of-disbelief hat.  Joan, being the efficient play writer that she is, keeps a recording device handy in her office, so she can dictate her drama scenes to it and then transcribe them later. She inadvertently leaves the machine on, which conveniently allows her to hear Lester and Irene (Jack and Gloria) scheming to murder Myra - and murder her asap, before she has her birthday (sweet 35, I suspect she's supposed to be, although our Joan was probably closer to the other side of 45...)

 

Myra hears everything, recorded as it is on her dictation machine. Now, here's where the title of the film really fits the action (sometimes noir titles don't match the movie's story at all...). Myra hears everything Lester and Irene say, including Lester's declaration that he can hardly stand Myra ( bad enough) as well as their hard-boiled intentions to kill her, and kill her soon.

You actually, literally, see sudden fear seizing Myra, body and soul. This is where Joan's specialty for hamming it up a bit with the intense faces she makes really works, and is something to see. Joan's face registers surprise, disbelief, pain, anger, and fear- more like terror - all in the space of a few minutes. This is one reason why I love Joan-o-dramas.

 

The suspension-of-disbelief part kicks in right about now. Anyone else, or at least anyone who wasn't in a movie, would 1) carefully take the recording and put it in an envelope;

2) LEAVE THE HOUSE IMMEDIATELY  and

3)Tell someone - not the police, maybe, as someone's pointed out ,Myra had a lot of pride and might not want everyone to know her husband was plotting to murder her - - but how about good old dependable Bruce Bennett ? He'd know what to do, he'd help her.

 

But no, Joan does none of the above. She gets the idea she should hide the record in a book - a book from the very top shelf of her library - and of course breaks the record in the attempt to stash it there. Then she goes to bed - alone in the night in the house with the man who wants her dead. Then she hatches a scheme to turn the tables and have him killed.

There are so many instances where she's alone with the homicidal Jack, and where it would be the easiest thing in the world for him to murder her and make it look like an accident. How 'bout the scene where he carries her up the stairs, after she's pretended to break her ankle?

 

But this is quibbling, and misses the point of the film, which is to watch Joan doing what Joan does best, smiling to the world and looking glamourous whilst all the time hiding a broken heart, and a terrified psyche.

The last half hour of Sudden Fear is a pure noir treat. I love it that Joan and Gloria are both wearing the same outfits...... that we see Joan running around and hiding and biting her lip and her handkerchief, trying to flee her husband's inexorable search for her, all on those rain-slicked hilly dark San Francisco streets.

San Francisco, by the way, is a candidate for the best noir city location. I love every movie I've ever seen that's set there.

 

Anyway, let go of any "that just wouldn't happen, she just wouldn't do that" attitude, and you'll have a ball watching Sudden Fear.

 

 

LOL! Great write up, Miss Wonderly! Lots of silliness and implausibility but as you say it's a Joan-o-drama. The last 15 mins or so makes up for a lot that comes before. I must say it was gutsy of Joan to allow all those close ups of her eyes in the closet. (being on the far side of 45 at that time).......

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I had an old VHS tape of Sudden Fear when it was on AMC years

ago with good ol' Bob Dorian doing the intros and outros. Not sure

I still have it. Who needs Joan when Gloria Grahame is around? :)

 

 

LOL. It's no wonder they didnt get along. Then I heard the Mank say Jack and Gloria were having an affair during filming!

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Note to the wives out there: if you have a recording which incriminates your husband and his mistress, don't break it. Hand it over to your lawyer. Saves you the trouble of trying to concoct a plot to get even.

 

 

Yeah, dont climb a ladder and hide it on the top shelf of your library......

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Yeah, dont climb a ladder and hide it on the top shelf of your library......

 

I know, it's like "honey, you're rich and white, the police would be there in 60 seconds if you called, why even take the record out of the dictaphone?"

 

but again, only a mooo-vie.

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slaytonf, despite Sudden Fear originally being an RKO release, I got the feeling it's a film not in the TCM library. I've already forgotten the name of the company whose logo appears on the DVD Ben Mankiewicz was hawking after the film, but I got the impression they control it now. It surely would have aired before if it was an "in-library" film. Now that it's finally aired, and a TCM rep dutifully helped give its DVD release some free advertising, perhaps it will enter semi-regular rotation.

 

I thought it was a pretty good cat-and-mouse thriller. It reminded me a little of Unfaithfully Yours (I saw the Dudley Moore version as a teenager and only many years later learned there it was a remake of a Preston Sturges/Rex Harrison film) in which the composer "murders" two people, only in his imagination, and everything goes perfectly, but when he tries it in reality, things go horribly, comically wrong. Of course, this wasn't a comedy, but the final third followed a similar plot.

 

 

Despite TCM saying this was a premiere, I'm pretty sure they've shown it before, but many years ago. A lot of these "premieres" arent really. I agree this film probably isn't in the RKO library. It was independently produced and only released by them.......

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all this is really making me want to read the book again, but i'm:

 

A. Not sure i still have it

B. Not sure it wouldn't disintegrate if I opened it (it's an oooold paperback)

and

C. Not sure my allergies could stand it (old books make me throat all scratchy when i read them.)

 

i looked on amazon, and the copy they have for sale starts at $80!!!!!!!

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i read a brief summary of the book on a site and apparently, in the novel, the character of Irene (Gloria Grahame in the movie) is introduced when Myra (Crawford) saves her from "drowning."

 

 

What an introduction!!! :D

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Miss Huston also appeared in a number of other noirs, most notably as the "nice" girl from the small mountain town - think her name was "Anne".

 

 

In Out of the Past, right?

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I wish imdb would provide links to these items. My experience with imdb is that if you submit a trivia item, it pretty much gets accepted, no questions asked. 

 

Now according to the June 1952 issue of Modern Screen (page 14), Crawford is quoted as saying "I have been reported dating Scott Brady and feuding with Gloria Grahame while we were shooting Sudden Fear. But when you're making an independent picture you haven't time for sex or feuds - and I resent it because both make for a happy life!"

 

 

What makes for a happy life? Sex and feuds???

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I only need glasses for reading. I still have very good vision otherwise. I don't expect to have to be reading when I'm watching TV................ Wasn't it a bit of a coincidence that he mistakes Grahame for Crawford at the end and runs into and kills her?

 

He didnt have his glasses on...........

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I aware that she dressed to make him think she was Gloria. But for Gloria to be in the perfect position to be run over, THAT was a coincidence.

 

 

And no one else walking around or any cars DRIVING around except Palance in a big city like San Francisco........

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I only need glasses for reading. I still have very good vision otherwise. I don't expect to have to be reading when I'm watching TV................ Wasn't it a bit of a coincidence that he mistakes Grahame for Crawford at the end and runs into and kills her?

 

No. Did you doze off during the scene in which Joan and Gloria are having pre-party cocktails, and Joan sort of apologizes to Gloria for wearing the same colour gown that Gloria's wearing (white.) There's no reason for that bit of dialogue, other than to draw the audience's attention to the fact that the two women are dressed alike.

So it's not a coincidence that Jack thinks Gloria is Joan; they are wearing almost identical outfits - white dress, brown fur coat, white head scarf. It's all set up for Jack to make that mistake.

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all this is really making me want to read the book again, but i'm:

 

A. Not sure i still have it

B. Not sure it wouldn't disintegrate if I opened it (it's an oooold paperback)

and

C. Not sure my allergies could stand it (old books make me throat all scratchy when i read them.)

 

i looked on amazon, and the copy they have for sale starts at $80!!!!!!!

 

 

OMG! Now that REALLY is a crime! :(

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oh wow. someone did a SUDDEN FEAR BARBIE!

(only they got the color of the dress wrong.)

 

50_ResizedJoan_Crawford_Sudden_c6.jpg

 

 

LOL.

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And no one else walking around or any cars DRIVING around except Palance in a big city like San Francisco........

 

 

if we're going to pick at the plotholes- may I ask whether or not ALL 1952 model Cadillacs came equipped with a spotlight mounted to the driver's side door? y'know, just in case you wanted to take the Caddy out to go shine deer or something...

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What makes for a happy life? Sex and feuds???

 

uh, YAH.

Sounds logical to me...(of course, the only part of that equation that applies to me these days is the feuds.)

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In Out of the Past, right?

 

Yikes ! Hibi baby, thank you...how could I have mentioned the actress, the character, and even the setting, without mentioning the NAME OF THE DAMN FILM ? ! Yes, of course, Out of the Past.  I am an idiot for not naming it. I wasn't doing some obnoxious "Oh, everyone knows this movie so  I don't have to give its title"  thing, I just forgot !

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What makes for a happy life? Sex and feuds???

That's the same thing I was thinking, Hibs!  Man, that Joanie must have been some kind of wildcat!

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if we're going to pick at the plotholes- may I ask whether or not ALL 1952 model Cadillacs came equipped with a spotlight mounted to the driver's side door? y'know, just in case you wanted to take the Caddy out to go shine deer or something...

 

 

LOL!!!!

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Yikes ! Hibi baby, thank you...how could I have mentioned the actress, the character, and even the setting, without mentioning the NAME OF THE DAMN FILM ? ! Yes, of course, Out of the Past.  I am an idiot for not naming it. I wasn't doing some obnoxious "Oh, everyone knows this movie so  I don't have to give its title"  thing, I just forgot !

 

LOL. I thought maybe you wanted us to guess! :D

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That's the same thing I was thinking, Hibs!  Man, that Joanie must have been some kind of wildcat!

 

LOL. Joanie had plenty in both categories.........

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