Sudden Fear

  • 1952
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Thriller

Despite a slow start, this is a fine suspense thriller that earned Oscar nominations for Crawford (Best Actress; she lost to Shirley Booth for COME BACK, LITTLE SHEBA), Palance (Best Supporting Actor), O'Brien's costume design and Lang's cinematography. Crawford is a wealthy San Francisco heiress who is a successful playwright. She's casting her new opus...read more

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Despite a slow start, this is a fine suspense thriller that earned Oscar nominations for Crawford (Best Actress; she lost to Shirley Booth for COME BACK, LITTLE SHEBA), Palance (Best Supporting Actor), O'Brien's costume design and Lang's cinematography. Crawford is a wealthy San

Francisco heiress who is a successful playwright. She's casting her new opus in New York and meets Palance, who is auditioning for the romantic lead. She doesn't think he's right for the part, but he is romantically right for her, and, when they meet again, on her train trip back to California, he

turns on his charm. By the time they reach Baghdad by the Bay, they are in love and are soon husband and wife. Palance takes some time away from Crawford to have a little rendezvous with his former flame, Grahame. He tells her that he married Crawford for security, not because of any unbridled

passion, so she had better not try to break up the marriage. Grahame learns that the playwright intends to cede all of her late father's money to a foundation devoted to eliminating heart disease. Grahame and Palance meet later in Crawford's study and discover that Crawford has made a new will

which allots only $10,000 a year to Palance, and even that small stipend will cease if he remarries after her death. They are unaware Crawford's dictating machine is on, and their conversation is being recorded--or that the will is unsigned. It seems that Crawford's lawyer, Bennett, has never

trusted Palance, and he drafted the will himself, without her ever knowing about it. A new will has since been written, and Palance has been more than generously remembered. Grahame notes the date on the will she and Palance have discovered. It won't take effect until the following Monday, so, if

Palance is to benefit under California statutes governing the estates of those who die with no will, he should knock Crawford off posthaste. Crawford later sees that the dictating machine has been on, and listens to the recording. She goes to bed that night in fear for her life. After a day or so,

she breaks into Grahame's flat and locates the fatal poison that she thinks they will use on her. She also finds a gun in good working order. Then she leaves a message, ostensibly from Grahame, for Palance to meet at the woman's apartment. To make sure Grahame won't be there, she sends her a

message to wait for Palance at a garage in the neighborhood. Palance arrives to find Crawford waiting for him with the gun, but there's one flaw in the scenario: she doesn't have the ability to shoot Palance down. She races out and runs down the hilly San Francisco street. Palance gets into his

car and chases after her. Meanwhile, Grahame has grown tired of waiting for Palance and is now coming up the hill toward her apartment. The two women are dressed similarly, so Palance heads his car straight for Grahame. When he recognizes her, he jerks the steering wheel but is unable to avoid her

and dies himself as the car crashes.

Crawford rides a roller coaster of emotions from dewy-eyed love through hatred, pain, and, eventually, to triumph. Making his movie debut was Mike Connors, still using the nom de cinema his agent, Henry Willson, gave him after learning it was the young athlete's nickname at UCLA. Willson was also

the man who changed Roy Fitzgerald to Rock Hudson and Arthur Gelien to Tab Hunter. Leading man Palance, one of the new breed of "method actors" who had studied at the Actor's Studio in New York, which hatched Marlon Brando and other introspective, inner-directed actors, proved to unnerve old line

movie star Crawford. He was moody and distant during the production and alarmed the actress when, to build up his emotional state, he would run madly about the sound stage. The film was an enormous success, earning back many times its cost of $720,000. Crawford wisely elected to take 48 percent of

the profits instead of her $200,000 salary.

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  • Rating: NR
  • Review: Despite a slow start, this is a fine suspense thriller that earned Oscar nominations for Crawford (Best Actress; she lost to Shirley Booth for COME BACK, LITTLE SHEBA), Palance (Best Supporting Actor), O'Brien's costume design and Lang's cinematography. Cr… (more)

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