Suddenly (1954)

75, 77 or 82 mins | Drama | September 1954

Director:

Lewis Allen

Writer:

Richard B. Sale

Producer:

Robert Bassler

Production Designer:

F. Paul Sylos

Production Company:

Libra Productions, Inc.
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HISTORY

In the NYT review of Suddenly , the title is incorrectly given as Suddenly! . The character played by James Lilburn is listed in the onscreen cast list as "Jud Hobson," but in the film he is called "Jud Kelly." Opening and closing cast credits differ in order.
       Although Richard Sale's credit reads "written for the screen by Richard Sale," the film was based on Sale's own short story "Active Duty" published in Blue Book in May 1943. The plot of the film and short story are very similar but with a few exceptions: The short story was set during World War II instead of the film's setting in the Korean War era; In the short story, the mother, rather than being bitter about her husband's disappearance during active duty, joins the war effort by working at an aircraft factory; Unlike the film, the mother in the short story has no romantic interest and, in fact, is not at home during the assassination attempt; Also in the short story, the young boy works in a radio repair shop with his grandfather, who single-handedly subdues both assassins by rewiring his radio to their machine gun, thereby electrocuting them without any gunplay; In the film, however, the older man is a retired Secret Service agent, not a relative.
       The exteriors for the film were shot in Saugus, CA. Libra Productions, Inc. was Robert Bassler's company, and Suddenly was his first film as an independent producer after many years with Twentieth Century-Fox. As noted in a 25 Oct 1954 Life article about the film, there had been six presidential assassination attempts (to ... More Less

In the NYT review of Suddenly , the title is incorrectly given as Suddenly! . The character played by James Lilburn is listed in the onscreen cast list as "Jud Hobson," but in the film he is called "Jud Kelly." Opening and closing cast credits differ in order.
       Although Richard Sale's credit reads "written for the screen by Richard Sale," the film was based on Sale's own short story "Active Duty" published in Blue Book in May 1943. The plot of the film and short story are very similar but with a few exceptions: The short story was set during World War II instead of the film's setting in the Korean War era; In the short story, the mother, rather than being bitter about her husband's disappearance during active duty, joins the war effort by working at an aircraft factory; Unlike the film, the mother in the short story has no romantic interest and, in fact, is not at home during the assassination attempt; Also in the short story, the young boy works in a radio repair shop with his grandfather, who single-handedly subdues both assassins by rewiring his radio to their machine gun, thereby electrocuting them without any gunplay; In the film, however, the older man is a retired Secret Service agent, not a relative.
       The exteriors for the film were shot in Saugus, CA. Libra Productions, Inc. was Robert Bassler's company, and Suddenly was his first film as an independent producer after many years with Twentieth Century-Fox. As noted in a 25 Oct 1954 Life article about the film, there had been six presidential assassination attempts (to that time), three of which had succeeded (Lincoln, Garfield and McKinley). Some modern sources have stated that after the assassination of John F. Kennedy in 1963, Frank Sinatra tried to suppress Suddenly as well as another film in which he starred, the 1962 United Artists release The Manchurian Candidate (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1961-70 ), which also had an assassination theme.
More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
11 Sep 1954.
---
Daily Variety
27 Mar 1954.
---
Daily Variety
7 Sep 1954
p. 3.
Film Daily
7 Sep 1954
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Apr 1954
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Sep 1954
p. 3.
Life
25 Oct 1954.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
11 Sep 1954
p. 137.
New York Times
8 Oct 1954
p. 27.
Variety
8 Sep 1954
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITER
Wrt for the screen by
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of cine
Cam op
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Prop master
COSTUMES
MUSIC
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Photog eff
Photog eff
MAKEUP
Makeup
Hairdresser
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
Scr supv
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the short story "Active Duty" by Richard Sale in Blue Book (May 1943).
DETAILS
Release Date:
September 1954
Production Date:
began 12 April 1954 at Goldwyn Studios
Copyright Claimant:
Libra Productions, Inc.
Copyright Date:
17 September 1954
Copyright Number:
LP4300
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Black and White
Widescreen/ratio
1.75:1
Duration(in mins):
75, 77 or 82
Length(in reels):
8
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Tod Shaw, the sheriff of the small California town of Suddenly, is courting Ellen Benson, a widow whose husband was killed in the Korean War. Ellen and her eight-year-old son Pidge live with her father-in-law, Pop Benson, a retired Secret Service agent. Ellen, who has become embittered by her husband’s death in battle, is overprotective of Pidge and will not allow him to see war movies or own toy guns. One Saturday morning, Ellen is dismayed to discover that Tod has bought her son a toy cap pistol, prompting her to break up with him. Later, Tod learns that a special train carrying the U.S. President will be arriving at the town’s railroad station late that afternoon. The president will de-train, then travel by car to a nearby ranch for a fishing vacation. Tod is instructed to coordinate the local security procedures and, after requesting assistance from the state police, meets with members of the advance secret service team, led by agent Dan Carney. Carney assigns his men to inspect and secure all the buildings overlooking the station, including the Benson house. Carney is delighted to learn that his former boss Pop lives in Suddenly. At that moment, Pop is trying to fix a temperamental television set, but the set explodes and Ellen has to phone the local repairman to come to fix it. Soon after, John Baron, Benny Conklin and Bart Wheeler, hired killers posing as FBI agents, arrive and ask to inspect the house. Pop proudly informs them that he was President Coolidge’s bodyguard, then inquires about why Baron and his men are there. After Baron orders that no one leave the house, he tells Pop about ... +


Tod Shaw, the sheriff of the small California town of Suddenly, is courting Ellen Benson, a widow whose husband was killed in the Korean War. Ellen and her eight-year-old son Pidge live with her father-in-law, Pop Benson, a retired Secret Service agent. Ellen, who has become embittered by her husband’s death in battle, is overprotective of Pidge and will not allow him to see war movies or own toy guns. One Saturday morning, Ellen is dismayed to discover that Tod has bought her son a toy cap pistol, prompting her to break up with him. Later, Tod learns that a special train carrying the U.S. President will be arriving at the town’s railroad station late that afternoon. The president will de-train, then travel by car to a nearby ranch for a fishing vacation. Tod is instructed to coordinate the local security procedures and, after requesting assistance from the state police, meets with members of the advance secret service team, led by agent Dan Carney. Carney assigns his men to inspect and secure all the buildings overlooking the station, including the Benson house. Carney is delighted to learn that his former boss Pop lives in Suddenly. At that moment, Pop is trying to fix a temperamental television set, but the set explodes and Ellen has to phone the local repairman to come to fix it. Soon after, John Baron, Benny Conklin and Bart Wheeler, hired killers posing as FBI agents, arrive and ask to inspect the house. Pop proudly informs them that he was President Coolidge’s bodyguard, then inquires about why Baron and his men are there. After Baron orders that no one leave the house, he tells Pop about the president’s arrival. At the station, Carney reveals to Tod that security will be very tight because an informant told authorities about a presidential assassination plot. After Pop questions the FBI’s involvement in the president’s security, Baron tells him that they have been called in because of information about a potential assassination attempt. When Tod brings Carney to the house to see Pop, Baron shoots and kills Carney and Conklin seriously wounds Tod in the arm. Baron then threatens to harm Pidge unless they follow his instructions. After the killers set up a heavy recoil rifle on a metal table at a window overlooking the depot, they hide Tod’s patrol car in the garage. Later, Baron states that they are hired assassins and boasts that during the war he won a Silver Star for killing twenty-seven Germans. Tod assumes they will be killed when the men leave and quietly asks Pop if he has a gun in the house. After Baron sends Conklin to check on the situation in town, Jud Kelly, the television repairman, arrives and Baron takes him prisoner. While they wait, Baron admits to Tod that he has no idea who is paying him the half-million dollars to kill the president. In town, after Conklin fails to respond correctly to a deputy sheriff’s questions, Conklin draws his gun and shoots the deputy, who returns fire. Although state troopers have been instructed to take Conklin alive, Conklin is killed in a shootout. At the house, Baron orders everyone into the cellar. When one of the Secret Service agents comes looking for Carney, Baron tells Ellen that unless she can convince the agent that Carney, Tod, Pop and Pidge have gone to the ranch, he will kill them all. Satisfied by Ellen's explanation, the agent leaves. After emerging from the cellar, Tod taunts Baron about his war experience and suggests that he was court-martialed as a psychopath. Meanwhile, Pop secretly suggests to Jud that he clamp a high voltage lead from the television set to the metal table. Pop then fakes a minor heart attack and sends Pidge to get pills from the drawer in which he has hidden his gun. Pidge switches his toy gun for the real one. A few minutes later, after Pop has spilled a glass of water on the floor near the table, Wheeler steps in the water, then touches the rifle and is promptly electrocuted. His death throe spasms cause the rifle to fire several rounds. After police at the depot return fire, Baron cuts the electricity and shoots Jud, then slugs Pop. Pidge shoots at Baron, but misses. As the train approaches the depot, Baron takes aim with the rifle but is astonished when the train, having been signaled not to stop, goes straight through. Ellen, forced to reconsider her feelings about killing, picks up Pop's gun and shoots Baron. Tod then shoots, ending the killer’s life. Later, as Pop recovers, Tod emerges from the hospital and tells Ellen that although Jud died, his deputy will live. Ellen then asks Tod if they can resume their courtship.
+

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

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