Anniversary Classics: From ‘Cape Fear’ to ‘Sudden Fear’


From the people who just brought you ‘Cape Fear,’ a doubling down on the same theme: a 65th anniversary screening of ‘Sudden Fear.’

Those would be the folks at Anniversary Classics (produced and hosted by film critic Stephen Farber for Laemmle Theatres). This screening will prove that anything Donald Trump or Kim Un Jong can do, Joan Crawford can do better.

One of Crawford’s most memorable performances, the film-noir favorite earned four Oscar nominations in 1952, including one for Crawford as Best Actress, one for Jack Palance as Best Supporting Actor and another for Charles Lang’s moody black-and-white cinematography.

The ingenious screenplay by Lenore J. Coffee and Robert Smith, adapted from a novel by Edna Sherry, casts Crawford as a successful playwright who rejects an aspiring young actor when he auditions for the leading role in her latest play. Crawford insists that he lacks the charisma to be convincing as a romantic lead. Ironically, when she later meets the actor on a train heading back to her home in San Francisco, she finds him more compelling and begins to fall in love with him. But this is only the beginning of a romantic melodrama with some startling and frightening twists ahead for both characters.

Film noir historian Spencer Selby called the film ”undoubtedly one of the most stylish and refined woman-in-distress noirs.” Leonard Maltin agreed that the film is a “solid suspense thriller with many neat twists.”

Gloria Grahame, who made four movies in 1952, including ‘The Bad and the Beautiful’ (which won her the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress), has a juicy supporting role as Palance’s secret lover.

The screening will be introduced by film historian Jeremy Arnold, author of ‘TCM’s The Essentials,’ who provided the audio commentary on the recent Blu-Ray edition of ‘Sudden Fear.’ Will be fun to see with an audience.

Sudden Fear | Anniversary Classics, Laemmle Theatres | Aug 29

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