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Sudden Fear

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Director  David Miller
Initial DVD release  September 2, 2003
Language  English
7.6/10 IMDb

Genre  Film-Noir, Thriller
Music director  Elmer Bernstein
Country  United States
Sudden Fear movie poster
Release date  August 7, 1952 (1952-08-07) (New York City)
Based on  the novel Sudden Fear  by Edna Sherry
Writer  Lenore J. Coffee (screenplay), Robert Smith (screenplay), Edna Sherry (novel)
Cast  Joan Crawford (Myra Hudson), Jack Palance (Lester Blaine), Gloria Grahame (Irene Neves), Bruce Bennett (Steve Kearney), Virginia Huston (Ann Taylor), Mike Connors (Junior Kearney)
Similar movies  Birdman, The Shining, A Knight's Tale, The Night of the Hunter, Saving Mr. Banks, Double Indemnity
Tagline  Every Suspenseful Moment...Every Embrace...Every Kiss - A Breathtaking Experience!

Sudden fear 1952 joan crawford

Sudden Fear Is a 1952 American film noir thriller directed by David Miller, and starring Joan Crawford and Jack Palance in a tale about a successful woman who marries a murderous man. The screenplay by Lenore J. Coffee and Robert Smith was based upon the novel of the same name by Edna Sherry.


Sudden Fear movie scenes


Sudden Fear movie scenes

Myra Hudson (Crawford) is a successful Broadway playwright who rejects Lester Blaine (Palance) as the lead in her new play. Later, she meets Lester on a train bound for San Francisco, is swept off her feet, and, after a brief courtship, marries him.

Sudden Fear movie scenes

Lester learns that Myra is writing her will and plans to leave the bulk of her fortune to a foundation. He plots her murder in cahoots with Irene Neves (Gloria Grahame), an old girlfriend hiding in the wings.

Sudden Fear movie scenes

Myra discovers their plans and concocts a diabolical scheme to kill Lester and place the blame on Irene, but cannot bring herself to go through with it. Lester learns of Myra's intentions and chases her through the streets of San Francisco in his car while she is on foot. Myra is able to avoid him but Lester mistakes Irene for Myra and is about to run her down. Myra shouts to stop him but he realizes too late. He tries to avoid Irene but crashes, killing them both. Myra overhears the two pronounced dead and breathes a sigh of relief as she walks off safely into the night.


  • Joan Crawford as Myra Hudson
  • Jack Palance as Lester Blaine
  • Gloria Grahame as Irene Neves
  • Bruce Bennett as Steve Kearney
  • Virginia Huston as Ann Taylor
  • Mike Connors as Junior Kearney
  • Critical response

    When the film was released, the film critic for The New York Times, A. H. Weiler, reviewed the film favorably, writing, "Joan Crawford should be credited with a truly professional performance in Sudden Fear ... The entire production has been mounted in excellent taste and, it must be pointed out, that San Francisco and Los Angeles, Bunker Hill area, in which most of the action takes place, is an excitingly photogenic area. David Miller, the director, has taken full advantage of the city's steep streets and panoramic views. And, in his climactic scenes in a darkened apartment and a chase through its precipitous dark alleys and backyards he has managed to project an authentically doom-filled atmosphere."

    Otis L. Guernsey, Jr., also wrote a positive review in the New York Herald Tribune. He wrote, "The designed to allow Miss Crawford a wide range of quivering reactions to vicious events, as she passes through the stage of starry-eyed love, terrible disillusionment, fear, hatred, and finally hysteria. With her wide eyes and forceful bearing, she is the woman for the job."

    More recently, Village Voice reviewer Melissa Anderson wrote that Sudden Fear "fits into and defies different genres, its convention-scrambling partly the result of the fact that the film looks both forward and back." Dennis Schwartz liked the film, but questioned some of the film's plot points, saying that "David Miller stylishly directs this disturbing psychological gargoyle thriller ... [Yet] ... the suspense is marred by plot devices that don't hold up to further scrutiny. Joan Crawford has a chance to act out on her hysteria after her happy marriage is unmasked as a charade, and does a fine job of trying to remain calm while knowing her hubby and girlfriend are planning to kill her ... The film is grandly topped off by Charles B. Lang Jr. and his remarkably glossy black-and-white photography."

    Crawford received her third and final Oscar nomination for this film, the one and only time she competed against archrival Bette Davis for Best Actress, who was nominated (for the ninth time) for The Star. Neither actress won; Shirley Booth took home the prize for Come Back, Little Sheba.

    Noir analysis

    In 1984, film noir historian Spencer Selby noted, "Undoubtedly one of the most stylish and refined woman-in-distress noirs."


    Laurel Awards win

  • Golden Laurel: Best Dramatic Performance, Female: Joan Crawford
  • Academy Awards nominations

  • Best Actress in a Leading Role: Joan Crawford
  • Best Actor in a Supporting Role: Jack Palance
  • Best Cinematography, Black-and-White: Charles Lang
  • Best Costume Design, Black-and-White: Sheila O'Brien
  • Golden Globes nomination

  • Best Motion Picture Drama Actress: Joan Crawford
  • Home media

    Sudden Fear was first released on VHS by Kino Video. Kino also released the film on Region 1 DVD in 2003. In 2006, the film was also released as part of Film Noir - The Dark Side of Hollywood DVD box set by Kino Video. in 2016, the fim was released on Blu Ray by Cohen Film Collection.


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