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"Three gunmen, who have been hired to assassinate the President, hold a family hostage while waiting for their target. Interesting B film which focuses on psychopathic killer well-portrayed against type by Frank Sinatra." - noir expert Spencer Selby | Cast: Frank Sinatra, Sterling Hayden, James Gleason, Nancy Gates. 77 min.

File:Suddenly (1954).webm
Suddenly is a 1954 American film noir.</>
The tranquility of a small town is jarred when the U.S. President is scheduled to pass through and a hired assassin takes over the Benson home as a perfect location to ambush the president.
The film is among the List of films in the public domain.


In post-war America, the President of the United States is scheduled to journey through the small town of Suddenly, California. Claiming to be checking up on security prior to his arrival, a group of FBI agents arrive at the home of the Bensons, on top of a hill that looks down upon the station where the Presidential train is due to stop. However, they soon turn out to be assassins led by the ruthless John Baron (Frank Sinatra), who take over the house and hold the family hostage.
Sheriff Tod Shaw (Sterling Hayden) arrives with Dan Carney (Willis Bouchey), a United States Secret Service agent in charge of the President's security detail. When he does, Baron and his gangsters shoot Carney and a bullet fractures Shaw's arm.
Baron sends one of his two henchmen to double-check on the President's schedule but he is killed in a shootout with the police. Jud (James O'Hara), a television repairman, shows up at the house and also becomes a hostage. Pidge (Kim Charney) goes to his grandfather's dresser to fetch some medication and notices a fully loaded revolver which he replaces with his toy cap gun.
Baron is confronted by the sheriff on the risks and meaning of killing the President and Baron's remaining henchman begins showing some reluctance. For Baron, however, these are the very least of his concerns and it soon becomes clear that he is a psychopath whose pleasure comes from killingwho and why he kills being of little importance to him.
A sniper's rifle has been mounted on a metal table by a window. Jud discreetly hooks the table up to the 5000 volt plate output of the family television. Pop Benson (James Gleason) then spills a cup of water on the floor beneath the table. Although the hope is that Baron will be shocked to death, his remaining henchman touches the table first and is electrocuted, firing the rifle repeatedly and attracting the attention of police at the train station as he struggles to free himself. Baron shoots Jud, disconnects the electrical hookup and aims the rifle as the president's train arrives at the station, but to his surprise, doesn't stop (the stop having been canceled). Ellen Benson (Nancy Gates) shoots Baron in the chest and Shaw shoots him again. Baron's last words are, "Don't... please."


  • Frank Sinatra as John Baron
  • Sterling Hayden as Sheriff Tod Shaw
  • James Gleason as Peter "Pop" Benson
  • Nancy Gates as Ellen Benson
  • Kim Charney as Peter Benson III (Pidge)
  • Paul Frees as Benny Conklin, Baron's Accomplice (also TV announcer voice)
  • Christopher Dark as Bart Wheeler
  • Willis Bouchey as Dan Carney, Chief Secret Service Agent
  • Paul Wexler (actor) as Deputy Slim Adams
  • James O'Hara as Jud Kelly
  • Kem Dibbs as Wilson
  • Clark Howat as Haggerty
  • Charles Smith as Bebop
  • Dan White (actor) as Desk Officer Burg


=Critical response=

File:Sterling Hayden in the movie &quot;Suddenly&quot;.jpg
When the film was released, The New York Times film critic Bosley Crowther, liked the direction of the film and the acting, writing, "Yet such is the role that Mr. Sinatra plays in Suddenly!, a taut little melodrama that... [it] shapes up as one of the slickest recent items in the minor movie league... we have several people to thank- particularly Richard Sale for a good script, which tells a straight story credibly, Mr. Allen for direction that makes both excitement and sense, Mr. Bassler for a production that gets the feel of a small town and the cast which includes Sterling Hayden, James Gleason and Nancy Gates." Crowther especially liked Sinatra's performance. He wrote, "Mr. Sinatra deserves a special chunk of praise...In Suddenly! he proves it in a melodramatic tour de force."</>
The Manchurian Candidate was released as The Manchurian Candidate (1962 film), again starring Sinatra, but this time out to prevent an assassination being committed by Laurence Harvey.

=Loss of copyright=

The film's copyright was not renewed and it fell into the public domain; it can be downloaded and viewed for free online.<>.</>
The film is widely available from a number of discount/public domain distributors.
Suddenly was Film colorization for home video by Hal Roach Studios in 1986, rendering Sinatra's blue eyes brown.<>.</> A remastered colorized version by Legend Films was released to DVD on June 16, 2009, which also includes a newly restored print of the original black & white film.

See also

  • Assassinations in fiction
  • List of films featuring home invasions



  • Selby, Spencer. Dark City: The Film Noir. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland Publishing, 1984. ISBN 0-89950-103-6.
  • Alain Silver, and Elizabeth Ward, eds. Film Noir: An Encyclopedic Reference to the American Style. Woodstock, New York: The Overlook Press, 3rd edition, 1992. ISBN 0-87951-479-5.

Category:1954 films
Category:1950s crime films
Category:American crime thriller films
Category:Black-and-white films
Category:English-language films
Category:Film noir
Category:Films about fictional Presidents of the United States
Category:Films directed by Lewis Allen
Category:Films set in California
Category:United Artists films

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