Sudden Fear (1952)

Genres - Thriller  |   Sub-Genres - Psychological Thriller  |   Release Date - Aug 7, 1952 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 110 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Lucia Bozzola

Featuring Joan Crawford at her grande dame victim-turned-avenger best, Sudden Fear (1952) pits Crawford's playwright/heiress Myra against fortune-hunting husband Lester and his equally greedy girlfriend Irene. Featuring gaunt yet imposing newcomer Jack Palance as Myra's scheming spouse, Lester is already a quietly threatening presence even before Myra accidentally discovers his plans and her tony San Francisco house becomes enshrouded in cinematographer Charles Lang Jr.'s film noir shadows. Crawford's Myra may momentarily wilt with grief and terror over Lester's treachery, but she plans her revenge with a force that more than matches rival Gloria Grahame's venal brassiness. Letting Crawford play it both ways while upping the suspense, director David Miller shows Myra systematically enacting her lethal plot in her mind before she attempts to execute the real thing and rediscovers her emotional conscience. Retreating to the titular sensation, Crawford still injects that terror with her formidable will during the climactic nocturnal chase through the slick streets. A triumphant hit for Crawford, Sudden Fear garnered Oscar nominations for Best Actress, Supporting Actor, Cinematography and Costumes; the sizzling Grahame was recognized by the Academy for her supporting turn in The Bad and the Beautiful (1952) instead.