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At-A-Glance Film Reviews

Sudden Fear (1952)



Reviews and Comments

Rarely do we relate to the characters in film noir. In general, we relate to their drives and passions and are allured to the characters because they indulge in the things we don't dare to. We look up to the tough guy heroes and revel in the villain's ignominous end, but we don't often find a character we can say is much like ourselves.

There's nothing wrong with that. But Sudden Fear works largely because Joan Crawford's character is like us. She's a playwright who falls in love with an actor (Jack Palance), marries him, and later discovers he might not have the best of intentions. When she discovers this, she cooks up a dastardly plan to turn the tables. Her plan unfolds before our eyes, and it is fascinating to watch how clever she, and this film, can be. Still better to watch is how Crawford follows through once her plan becomes evident. Is she capable of performing the vile acts of evil noir villains -- and even the heroes -- commit routinely?

The acting by the leads is right on target, and cunning direction by David Miller creates some chilling moments. The first act is unnecessarily drawn out, and this is its most significant flaw. But once the second starts, your eyes won't leave the screen.