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Sudden Fear DVD Review

“Sudden Fear” never quite reaches its potential.

In this film noir/thriller, the story revolves around a Broadway playwright/heiress (Myra). At the beginning of the film, she has an actor (Lester) fired because she doesn’t believe he would be convincing as a romantic lead. The show turns out to be a hit without him, but their story doesn’t end there. Myra meets Lester on a train and the two end up bonding. They connect so well that they wind up marrying. If it all sounds too good to be true that’s because it is. Myra learns the truth about Lester which has her fearing for her very life. Now, she has to figure out what to do next.

Directed by David Miller, 1952’s “Sudden Fear” is a slow and needlessly long thriller/noir that is carried by its performances (I’ll get to that in a bit). While the tension eventually ratchets up (especially with the end chase sequence), the Robert Smith and LenoreJ. Coffee script suffers from being too far fetched and implausible at times. Although I understand giving the film a psychological thriller angle, there are too many questionable character actions here particularly with Myra. Not only are her actions overly elaborate, but I was baffled that she decided to go through things alone without even talking to anyone about what is happening. It’s clear the writers wanted to make this movie about both characters plotting against one another, but I still don;t buy it. On top of that, I do wish the character’s professions played more of a part to the story. There is some of that here, but I felt they could have gone further with it in relation to the story as a whole.

As I mentioned above, the performances carry this film. Both Joan Crawford and Jack Palance are in top form here. They even earned Oscar nominations for their work. Crawford (while a bit over-the-top at times as she tends to be) turns in one of her finest roles as a lovestruck writer whose world is turned upside down. Palance plays the bad guy Lester perfectly as he often does. Gloria Grahame may not have a large role but she shines as Lester’s duplicitous lover Irene.

I also wanted to give shoutouts to the atmospheric score by Elmer Bernstein and the cinematography by Charles Lang Jr. The shots on the streets of San Francisco are nothing short of sublime.


Presentation: 1.37:1. How does it look? The B&W has been given a crisp new transfer.

Audio Track: LPCM 2.0. How does it sound? A nice cleaned up 2.0 track that will surely please fans.

Extras include a re-release trailer and a fact filled commentary by author Jeremy Arnold.

February 1, 2021 - Posted by | DVD review | , , , ,

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