May 15, 2008

Public Domain Drive In: Suddenly

A Presidential visit to a small town. A disgruntled veteran and his henchmen take over a family home. Hints of a conspiracy of powerful, shadowy figures to assassinate the President of the United States.

And all of this....in a seemingly real-time film from the early 1950s.

Suddenly is one of those films that is steeped in controversy - from its rumored pull from circulation due to uncomfortable similarities to the Kennedy assassination, to a colorized version that made "Ol' Blue Eyes" brown-eyed. However, in reality...it's a sharp (although somewhat clunky at points) thriller that seems extremely prescient.

So much so that I half expected Oliver Stone's name to appear in the credits.

The plot is relatively straightforward - a small-town sheriff, wooing a widowed mother of a lovable moppet, finds himself and his loved ones taken hostage by a disgrunted ex-con who was hired to assassinate the President of the United States. However, it also serves as a great meditation on violence, especially gun violence (one sequence in the movie...well, if you're comfortable with kids and guns, you'll love it). It would be easy to categorize this as noir, but the small-town setting and the rather bucolic (and some stiff) performances by the cast really dilute any real noir feeling.

And quite frankly, although Sinatra may get the accolades for his performance, Sterling Hayden owns this movie. Playing the sturdy hero could have been boring...but Hayden portrays him as a kind of Andy Taylor-meets-MacGuyver hybrid. For 1950s audiences, it must have seemed somewhat preposterous...but now, it seems rather cool.

Unfortunately, due to it being pulled from release, the movie fell into public domain...however, all that means is that, much like the Fleisher Superman Cartoons, you can get it inexpensively on DVD. However, since public domain means that anyone can distribute them...here are some resources for you to acquire your own digital copy:

Suddenly - Internet Archive

Suddenly - Torrent Downloads


Or, embedded for your viewing pleasure:

1 comment:

Roger Green said...

Thanks. I watched it on the inbedded video. Unfortunately the pic froze for about a minute, putting it out of sync at about 40 minutes in so I'd listen then see it, but that was OK.