Sudden Fear (1952)

110-111 mins | Romance | August 1952

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HISTORY

Sudden Fear marked the first film in which Jack Palance's first name is listed as "Jack" instead of "Walter Jack." Although two songs are listed in the onscreen credits, none were performed in the film. According to a Nov 1949 DV news item, producer Joseph Kaufman first intended to shoot the picture in Europe. In Jul 1951, HR announced that the film would be "rolling in the East." Location filming actually took place in San Francisco, including Golden Gate Park. Although Ferris Taylor was announced as a cast member in a Jun 1951 HR news item, and Esther Dale was announced as a cast member in a Feb 1952 HR news item, neither appeared in the final film.
       According to a Jul 1952 Var item, Joan Crawford and director David Miller worked on a participation basis. Modern sources note that Crawford, who had script and casting approval, chose to receive a forty percent interest in the $720,000 picture in lieu of a $200,000 salary. Crawford originally requested Clark Gable as her co-star, according to modern sources. Miller, who thought Gable too old and well-known for the role, screened the 1950 Twentieth Century-Fox film Panic in the Streets , in which Jack Palance had a small but pivotal part, three times for Crawford, and she eventually agreed to cast him. RKO exploited the film heavily, and the picture was a box office success, according to contemporary sources. Sudden Fear marked Palance's first major role and earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. The film also received nominations ... More Less

Sudden Fear marked the first film in which Jack Palance's first name is listed as "Jack" instead of "Walter Jack." Although two songs are listed in the onscreen credits, none were performed in the film. According to a Nov 1949 DV news item, producer Joseph Kaufman first intended to shoot the picture in Europe. In Jul 1951, HR announced that the film would be "rolling in the East." Location filming actually took place in San Francisco, including Golden Gate Park. Although Ferris Taylor was announced as a cast member in a Jun 1951 HR news item, and Esther Dale was announced as a cast member in a Feb 1952 HR news item, neither appeared in the final film.
       According to a Jul 1952 Var item, Joan Crawford and director David Miller worked on a participation basis. Modern sources note that Crawford, who had script and casting approval, chose to receive a forty percent interest in the $720,000 picture in lieu of a $200,000 salary. Crawford originally requested Clark Gable as her co-star, according to modern sources. Miller, who thought Gable too old and well-known for the role, screened the 1950 Twentieth Century-Fox film Panic in the Streets , in which Jack Palance had a small but pivotal part, three times for Crawford, and she eventually agreed to cast him. RKO exploited the film heavily, and the picture was a box office success, according to contemporary sources. Sudden Fear marked Palance's first major role and earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. The film also received nominations for Best Actress (Crawford), Best Cinematography (b&w) and Best Costume Design (b&w). More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
2 Aug 1952.
---
Daily Variety
23 Nov 1949.
---
Daily Variety
23 Jul 52
p. 3.
Film Daily
24 Jul 52
p. 4.
Holiday
Nov 1952.
---
Hollywood Reporter
26 Jun 1951
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Jul 51
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
25 Jan 52
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Feb 52
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Feb 52
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Mar 52
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Mar 52
p. 16.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Jul 52
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Aug 52
p. 5.
Life
1 Sep 1952.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
26 Jul 52
p. 1461.
New York Times
8 Aug 52
p. 9.
Time
11 Aug 1952.
---
Variety
23 Jul 52
p. 6.
Variety
30 Jul 1952.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Dir of 2d unit
Asst dir
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Stills
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Props
COSTUMES
Miss Crawford's gowns des by
Miss Crawford's furs des by
Miss Crawford's lingerie and hostess gowns by
Miss Crawford's hats by
Miss Crawford's jewels by
Ward
Ward
MUSIC
Mus comp and dir
VISUAL EFFECTS
MAKEUP
Makeup, Miss Crawford
Makeup, Mr. Palance
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod supv
Prod asst
Scr supv
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Sudden Fear by Edna Sherry (New York, 1948).
AUTHOR
SONGS
"Afraid," words and music by Elmer Bernstein and Jack Brooks
"Sudden Fear," words and music by Irving Taylor and Arthur Altman.
DETAILS
Release Date:
August 1952
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 7 August 1952
Production Date:
late January--late March 1952 at Republic Studios
Copyright Claimant:
Joseph Kaufman Productions, Inc.
Copyright Date:
7 August 1952
Copyright Number:
LP1940
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
110-111
Length(in feet):
9,966
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
15865
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

During rehearsals of her latest Broadway production, successful playwright Myra Hudson fires leading man Lester Blaine because she feels he is not romantic enough for the part. Furious, Lester, a newcomer, lectures Myra about the nature of romance and storms away. A month later, Myra, who is also a San Francisco heiress, boards a train bound for home. To her surprise, she discovers that Lester is also on board and invites him to her compartment for a drink. Despite their initial animosity, Myra and Lester spend the entire trip together, getting to know each other's fears and dreams. In San Francisco, Myra and Lester's romance blossoms, but one night Lester deliberately fails to show for a dinner party at Myra's posh home. Concerned, Myra drives to Lester's apartment and finds him with his bags packed. When Lester protests that he will never fit into her wealthy world, Myra declares that without him, "she has nothing" and kisses him. Later, after they have married, Lester attends an elegant party with Myra and makes special note of Irene Nevis, the new girl friend of lawyer Junior Kearney, who along with his brother Steve, represents Myra. Lester later surprises Irene, his former lover and partner, at her apartment and demands to know why she followed him to San Francisco. Irene, who read about Lester's marriage in the New York newspapers, alludes to his criminal past, but Lester refuses to be blackmailed. When Lester learns through Steve that Myra is planning to give a large sum to a charity, however, he asks Irene to extract information about it from Junior, then kisses her. Later, Irene tells Lester ... +


During rehearsals of her latest Broadway production, successful playwright Myra Hudson fires leading man Lester Blaine because she feels he is not romantic enough for the part. Furious, Lester, a newcomer, lectures Myra about the nature of romance and storms away. A month later, Myra, who is also a San Francisco heiress, boards a train bound for home. To her surprise, she discovers that Lester is also on board and invites him to her compartment for a drink. Despite their initial animosity, Myra and Lester spend the entire trip together, getting to know each other's fears and dreams. In San Francisco, Myra and Lester's romance blossoms, but one night Lester deliberately fails to show for a dinner party at Myra's posh home. Concerned, Myra drives to Lester's apartment and finds him with his bags packed. When Lester protests that he will never fit into her wealthy world, Myra declares that without him, "she has nothing" and kisses him. Later, after they have married, Lester attends an elegant party with Myra and makes special note of Irene Nevis, the new girl friend of lawyer Junior Kearney, who along with his brother Steve, represents Myra. Lester later surprises Irene, his former lover and partner, at her apartment and demands to know why she followed him to San Francisco. Irene, who read about Lester's marriage in the New York newspapers, alludes to his criminal past, but Lester refuses to be blackmailed. When Lester learns through Steve that Myra is planning to give a large sum to a charity, however, he asks Irene to extract information about it from Junior, then kisses her. Later, Irene tells Lester that Myra is turning her entire inheritance over to charity, keeping only those assets earned by her plays. That Friday, her birthday, Myra meets with Steve in her home office and reveals her desire to leave her play assets to Lester. Although Steve, who had prepared a will in which Lester was to get a mere $10,000 a year, questions Myra's bequeathment, Myra insists on recording new terms on her voice-activated dictaphone. When party guests, including Irene, begin arriving, Myra abandons the recording to greet them. During the evening, Irene slips away and meets with Lester in the office. The next morning, Myra discovers that she left the dictaphone on and plays back the recording. To her horror, she hears Lester and Irene, who had read Steve's version of her will, kissing and plotting to kill her before Monday, the day she is to finalize her donation and sign the will. Devastated, Myra tries to hide the record, but it drops and shatters. Myra spends the day scheming, and while Lester is sleeping, sneaks into his bedroom and steals his key case, which contains Irene's apartment key. Myra has a duplicate key made and returns the case undetected. Myra then announces to Lester that she wants to go to the family summer house, even though it is the off-season. As hoped, Lester insists on accompanying her but, just before they are to leave, Myra states that she has to work all day and sends him to air out the place. Myra, who knows that Irene will not be home, then uses the duplicate key to enter her apartment. Myra takes some of Irene's stationery, as well as a writing sample, and a gun she finds in Irene's closet. She also drops one of Lester's monogrammed handkerchiefs on the floor. Back at home, she forges two notes to and from Irene and Lester, directing Irene to meet Lester in his garage at midnight, and Lester to meet Irene at her apartment at the same time. When Lester returns from the summer house, where he and Irene had been finalizing their murder plot, Myra informs him that they have to stay in town to attend her best friend's birthday party. Lester barely hides his anger over the change, and he and Irene scramble to come up with an alternate plan. That night, as Lester, Irene and others are enjoying pre-party cocktails at Myra's, Myra slips Lester's forged note into Irene's gloves, then deliberately falls down the stairs. Feigning an ankle injury, Myra declares she is staying home and, as Lester carries her upstairs, drops Irene's forged note into his pocket. Later, after pretending to fall asleep, an armed Myra sneaks to Irene's nearby apartment and hides when Irene arrives with Junior. As soon as Irene gets rid of Junior, she leaves to meet Lester in the garage. Soon after, the phone rings, but the caller hangs up as Myra is answering it. Although Myra has imagined how she will shoot Lester, she realizes that she is incapable of murder and drops the gun on the floor, repulsed. Just then, Lester shows up, and Myra races back to the closet. The phone rings again, and when Lester picks it up and hears Junior asking Irene why she failed to answer his previous call, he becomes suspicious. Finding the gun and his planted handkerchief, Lester deduces that he has been set up by Myra and races off in his car. Myra then takes off on foot, and Lester spots her and gives chase. At the same time, Irene leaves Lester's garage, wearing a white scarf identical to Myra's. Filled with murderous rage, Lester mistakes Irene for Myra and runs her down, killing both himself and Irene. As passersby discover the wreckage, Myra walks off, stunned but safe. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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