"We've got just 3 seconds to nail the President, and I don't
Annie Van Auken | Planet Earth | 06/18/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)
"SUDDENLY (1954) is one of two films that Frank Sinatra tried to suppress in the wake of JFK's assassination (the other being THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE from 1962). Ironically, this UNITED ARTISTS crime drama eventually fell into the public domain and has been widely available since the dawn of the VCR era.
At the time of its release, Frank's detractors probably thought his naturalistic rendering of the sadistic assassin-for-hire in this story was mere typecasting. Sterling Hayden's stilted delivery (as Sheriff Tod Shaw) doesn't come off as well, especially when he bellows in typically stentorian fashion the line, "Because I love you."
James Gleason, as retired Secret Service man Pop Benson, partly scripted and appeared in the first all-talking picture to win an Oscar, MGM's THE BROADWAY MELODY (1929). One of his most memorable roles was the ice skating cabbie in THE BISHOP'S WIFE (1947).
Nancy Gates, who's very good as the gun-hating widow, worked with Frank again in Vincente Minnelli's SOME CAME RUNNING (1958).
Paul Frees, the gang's lookout, portrayed Peter Lorre in the Spike Jones hit, "My Old Flame." He's best known for his many cartoon character voices.
James O'Hara (Jud the TV repairman) was Maureen's brother. This Dublin-born actor's Southern accent here is spot-on perfect.
In the small town of Suddenly, three men masquerading as FBI agents take by force a house overlooking the train station. They plan to assassinate the President of the United States shortly after his 5 pm arrival. The triggerman is a jumpy WWII vet who's proud that he won a Silver Star for killing 27 enemy soldiers. The gang's captives include a former Secret Serviceman who lived after catching a bullet in the heart while guarding President Coolidge, his widowed daughter-in-law, her 8 year old son, 'Pidge' (Kim Charney) and the town's sheriff, who's shot in the arm during the initial struggle for their home."