Directed by Lewis Allen
Starring Frank Sinatra and Sterling Hayden (The Godfather, Kubrick’s The Killing, also The Long Goodbye)
Synopsis: “In the city of Suddenly, three gangsters trap the Benson family in their own house, on the top of a hill nearby the railroad station, with the intention of killing the president of the USA.”
I chose to the image above because it’s the one that shows up on Netflix, and it was actually the appearance of this cover that originally made me interested in watching the movie. I hadn’t even heard of it until I saw that it was available on instant.
I like that the story itself is fairly straightforward. If it were made today countless twists and turns would be forced into the story to keep surprising the audience. Though on the flipside of that coin the movie itself sometimes strays into being predictable and simplistic. It is something of a propaganda piece speaking against pacifism, and stressing that war can be necessary. The thesis is essentially, though guns can be used for evil, they can just as easily be used for good. Also, women are weak, and need to let their sons play with guns… for the good of the country. All good lessons! (Sarcasm?)
Overall, the performances cement this as an enjoyable watch. Sinatra is especially great as a sociopath hired to kill the president, and Sterling Hayden acts as a great counter-point in the role of the town Sheriff.
On a side note, the version that I saw was the original Black-and-White version, which I am glad about because something about retroactively adding color to something that was originally intended to be B&W seems so strange. There was a huge amount of debate at the time that this “colorization” craze happened as to the artistic merit of this process, and whether it really provided an “improvement” to these older films. I mention this of course because the 3D craze of Avatar is about to catch on, and in the next few years we will likely see old favorites retroactively converted to 3D, so a similar debate is imminent. But I digress…
Catch it on TV sometime.
-Kinda makes me want to watch the original Manchurian Candidate (also starring Sinatra, also about presidential assassination), which I’ve never seen.
-Apparently Lee Harvey Oswald watched this movie just days before
he “allegedely” killed JFK.