Classic Cinema: Suddenly (1954) – By Jason S. Lockard

My name is Jason Lockard and being an independent filmmaker and a singer, songwriter as well, I love great singers and when they can act even better! Well, singer/actors don’t come much better Frank Sinatra!

Ole’ Blue Eyes… The Chairman of the Board… The Voice these are just some of the monikers for the great Frank Sinatra! Sinatra was born Francis Albert "Frank" Sinatra on December 12, 1915 he is best known for his career in music, singing such classics as Come fly with me, Under my Skin, New York, New York and others too many to count! Frank began his musical career in the swing era with Harry James and Tommy Dorsey, Sinatra broke from the big band leaders and became a solo artist in the early to mid-1940s, being the idol of the "bobby soxers." Then he rode on a high few singers ever see, but by the 1950s his singing career had stalled. He co-starred in many musicals during the 40s and in 1954 Frank’s career was rejuvenated when he won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in for The Best Picture that year “From Here to Eternity!” which boasted an all-star cast including Burt Lancaster, Montgomery Clift, Deborah Kerr and Donna Reed! After this Frank would go on to be in many memorable films but we are only going to focus on one this time!

After his successful Oscar winning role Frank took a dark route with 1954s little known gem Suddenly!
In post-war America the president of the United States of America is scheduled to journey through the fictional small town of Suddenly, California. In this film Frank plays the ruthless, troubled assassin John Baron. He and his henchmen pretend to be FBI agents ordered to protect the president and take over the home of The Benson Family. Soon after their arrival Sheriff Tod Shaw (Sterling Hayden) arrives with Dan Carney (Willis Bouchey), a 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.

What started out as a simple assassination attempt becomes more and more complicated as the hostages pile up in the small house you can feel a sense of claustrophobia. This sets off a chain of events you won’t believe, but I’m not going to spoil it for you, you’ll have to what the film to see what happens! While Suddenly is just around 75 minutes in length it is a very enjoyable film. It is one that must be seen to be appreciated! The acting is superb, the script is tremendous and the cinematography is spectacular! Do yourself a favor and treat yourself to the classic melodrama Suddenly!

The film’s copywrite was not renewed and thus fell into the public domain making the film available via discount distributors. It can also be downloaded online for free. In 1986s Suddenly was colorized by Hal Roach Studios in which they made Sinatra’s blue eyes brown. Than on June 16th, 2009 Legend Films also did a colorized version bringing Ole’ Blues Eyes back!

Frank went on to star in many films after this, the best in my humble opinion 1962s The Manchurian Candidate. Frank even teamed with his fellow rat packers for several films including 1960s Oceans Eleven, 1962s Sergeants 3 and 1964s Robin and the 7 Hoods.

On June 12, 1971 — at age 55 he performed a benefit concert in Hollywood to raise money for the Motion Picture and TV Relief Fund. At that concert Sinatra announced that he was retiring, bringing his 36-year storied career in show business to an end, but his retirement wouldn’t last and in 1973, Sinatra came out of retirement with a television special and album, both entitled Ol’ Blue Eyes Is Back. The album proved the world wasn’t ready to say goodbye to Ole Blue Eyes as the album reaching number 13 on Billboard and number 12 in the UK.

In October 1974, Sinatra appeared at Madison Square Garden in a televised concert later released as an album under the title The Main Event – Live. In 1979, in front of the Egyptian pyramids, Sinatra performed for Anwar Sadat. Back in Las Vegas, while celebrating 40 years in show business and his 64th birthday, he was awarded the Grammy Trustees Award during a party at Caesars Palace.

In 1990, Sinatra celebrated his 75th birthday with a national tour, and was awarded the second "Ella Award" by the Los Angeles–based Society of Singers. At the award ceremony, he performed for the final time with Ella Fitzgerald.

Sinatra’s final public concerts were held in Japan’s Fukuoka Dome in December 1994. The following year, on February 25, 1995, at a private party for 1,200 select guests on the closing night of the Frank Sinatra Desert Classic golf tournament, Sinatra sang before a live audience for the very last time. Esquire reported of the show that Sinatra was "clear, tough, on the money" and "in absolute control." His closing song was "The Best is Yet to Come."

Sinatra was awarded the Legend Award at the 1994 Grammy Awards. He was introduced by Bono, who said of Sinatra "Frank’s the chairman of the bad attitude… rock ‘n roll plays at being tough, but this guy is the boss. The chairman of boss… I’m not going to mess with him, are you?" Sinatra called it "the best welcome…I ever had." However, during his speech, Sinatra apparently ran too long and was curtly cut off by music, then commercials, leaving Sinatra looking confused while talking into a dead microphone. What a way to treat a legend!

Sinatra suffered from senile dementia in his final years and made no further public appearances after a heart attack in January 1997. Frank Sinatra suffered another heart attack and died at 10:50 pm on May 14, 1998 at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, with his wife Barbara by his side. He was 82 years old. Sinatra’s final words were "I’m losing." Imprinted on Sinatra’s grave marker are the words "The Best Is Yet to Come"!

While Sinatra was a good Academy Award winning actor he will always be remembered as Ole’ Blue Eyes one of the greatest singers who ever lived! So if you want to see The Chairman of the Board in a dark and sinister role unlike his old happy-go-lucky musicals of the 40s pick up a copy of Suddenly and treat yourself to “A Cold Blooded Thriller“! Until next month this is Jason Lockard saying if you want to watch a good movie pick up a classic!

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Moral Rating: Mild Violence
Audience: Teens & Adults
Genre: Drama
Length: 75 min.
Year of Release: 1954
Our Rating: A