Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, May 26, 2011


Jack Palance and Joan Crawford
SUDDEN FEAR (1952). Director: David Miller. 

Playwright Myra Hudson (Joan Crawford) thinks that Lester Blaine (Jack Palance) is a fine actor, but he just isn't "romantic-looking" enough for the lead in her new play. But it turns out that the actor is romantic-looking enough for Myra, as she meets him on a train and has a whirlwind romance with him. Myra is convinced that Lester honestly loves her, but she doesn't know about Irene (Gloria Grahame), the woman in his past ... It isn't long before Myra has to use all her skills at plotting to figure out a way to ... well, that would be telling. In the novel by Edna Sherry upon which this excellent suspense film is based, Lester actually looked like a Greek God, and was fired because he'd take attention away from the leading lady. Lester and Myra meet Irene at the same time, when the latter saves her from drowning. The novel has a kind of Eve Harrington/Margo Channing sub-plot which the film eschews, and Crawford's Myra is more likable and attractive than the woman in the book. As for the movie, which is well-directed by Miller, Crawford gives one of her best performances and illustrates the adept pantomiming she learned back in the silent period, and Palance and Graham are also top-notch. While the ending has been significantly changed, softened, from the novel, it's still satisfying, although the original ending might have given the film more bite and controversy. Mike Connors and Bruce Bennett (of Mildred Pierce) have smaller roles but are effective.

Verdict: Watch out Jack -- Joan's in command! ***1/2.

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