SUDDENLY

(1954)
With Frank Sinatra, Sterling Hayden, James Gleason, Nancy Gates, Kim Charney
Directed by Lewis Allen
Black and White
Reviewed by JL

    A riveting little b-flick that stars Frank Sinatra as a paid assassin hired to kill the President, who's making a brief stopover in a small town.  The film was obviously made on a shoestring budget (80% of the action takes place in a living room), and some depictions of 1950s domestic life are comically dated, but overall the film is a gritty tension-packed thriller with well-rounded leading characters.  As Sinatra and his thugs hold a family and the local sheriff (Sterling Hayden) hostage, there are plenty of heated exchanges that reveal the characters' motivations, but the dialogue is refreshingly free of the preachy moralizing that often mars such films.  Sinatra, in his first role since his Oscar-winning performance in FROM HERE TO ETERNITY, demonstrates again why he was regarded as among the top dramatic actors of the '50s.  5 - JL

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