Suddenly Re-Issue Another Welcome Remnant Of Hollywood’s Golden Age

Courtesy:  Image Entertainment

Courtesy: Image Entertainment/United Artists

Almost half a century ago, the United States suffered one of the worst tragedies of the twentieth century.  That tragedy was the assassination of then President John F. Kennedy.  Conspiracy theories aside, what many people might not know is that according to author Kitty Kelley, it was Sinatra’s 1954 movie, Suddenly that was the alleged influence behind Lee Harvey Oswald’s assassination of then President John F. Kennedy.  According to her bio on the singer, His Way: The Unauthorized Biography of Frank Sinatra, Oswald allegedly watched the movie the day before he changed history.  As a result of this accusation, the movie was pulled for years before it was finally allowed back into the public realm.  And now audiences can see how Suddenly may have played a role in that dark day for themselves as it has been re-issued on Blu-ray by Image Entertainment.

Suddenly is hardly the longest movie ever made.  But that’s not a bad thing, either.  In a time when it seems like so many movie studios seem to be competing with one another to see who can make the longest possible story, this movie comes in at a little less than ninety minutes.  Throughout the course of its hour and fifteen minute run time, audiences are kept engaged thanks to the growing tension between Sinatra’s psychopathic ex-military officer John Baron and Sterling Hayden’s clean cut fellow ex-military officer Sheriff Tod Shaw.  Much like 12 Angry Men which wouldn’t see the light of day for another three years, what really heightens the story’s tension is that the majority of the story takes place in a limited set.  This is a minor factor to some audiences.  But in viewing the movie from a more analytical vantage point, it’s a factor that plays a much larger factor.  Understanding this makes the movie that much more interesting and worth the watch.  Add in the understanding of the controversy surrounding the movie, and audiences get a movie that is that much more intriguing, underappreciated, and worth the watch.

A single viewing of Suddenly shows how Lee Harvey Oswald could easily have been influenced to commit a copy-cat act.  But it’s not necessarily the attempted act in question that will have audiences talking after watching.  If anything it’s Baron’s (Sinatra) comment late in the movie that he wasn’t the one committing the act.  Rather he was doing it for someone else, purely for the money.  Baron told Sheriff Shaw that he didn’t know for whom he was working and didn’t care to know, either.  If anything this brief moment will surely re-ignite the discussions between conspiracy theorists about whether or not Oswald worked alone.  On another level, it serves as one more example of the possible power of media to influence real life.  Should there be any credence to the influence of Suddenly on Oswald’s actions, it can be just as strongly used as another warning to the media in regards to taking responsibility for the potential impact of what is written for TV shows and movies.

Getting back to the story behind Suddenly as art.  Writer Richard Sale accomplished quite the feat with this movie.  It wastes no time establishing the story’s plot and its cast.  As a result of this quickness, the rest of the story is spent in just a few rooms of a house.  For most film makers and script writers today, limiting a story to so few sets would prove a mind twist, so to speak.  That’s because so many of today’s movies rely more on flash-boom-bang special effects and overt sexuality to drive their stories.  But for Sale, his writing was solely story based.  It allowed for more tension between Sinatra and Hayden.  And that tension is what keeps audiences so engaged.  There was obviously some chemistry between the two as they expertly played off of one another throughout the story making it increasingly emotional.  The chemistry between the two men made for a movie that was entirely enthralling; so much so that it’s ironic that it wasn’t Hayden whose character was ultimately responsible for the movie’s final outcome.  That outcome won’t be ruined for those who haven’t yet seen it.  But it is an ending that has quite the twist in and of itself.  It’s a twist that will leave audiences completely breathless after everything that had happened through the course of this underrated thriller.  That twist ending is the icing on the cake for Sale’s writing here.  And combined with the equally expert acting of both Hayden and Sinatra (and their supporting cast), it all comes together for a movie that is at the same time underrated and underappreciated.  And now that it’s available once more on Blu-ray, it’s a movie that every movie lover should see at least once.

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Shout! Factory Gives Film Buffs Even More Laughs In New MST3K Set

 

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory

Courtesy: Shout! Factory

Thank goodness for Mystery Science Theater 3000 and thank goodness for Shout! Factory keeping this classic comic science fiction show alive on DVD.  This modern classic is one of the single greatest shows ever created for film lovers.  There was no other show like it during its time.  And there has been no show like it since.  On the surface, the very concept of a man and his robot friends watching a bunch of really bad B-movies sounds like something wouldn’t work.  But it did.  And it still does today.  Now, fans of MST3K have been rewarded once again for their loyalty with another new collection of so bad they’re good movies and great skits from an equally great modern classic TV show.   

Shout! Factory released the latest volume of this modern classic earlier this week.  Included in this brand new set are four more movies that are so god awful that they’re great.  Contradictory, no?  This four disc set is anchored by the absolutely campy sequel to Universal’s The Creature from the Black Lagoon in Revenge of the Creature and the equally campy Operation Double 007.  1955’s Revenge of the Creature sees the return of the famed creature.  This time out, the creature actually becomes a bit of a sympathetic character as it’s captured by scientists and taken to an aquarium in Florida to be studied.  Awakening in the aquarium and gawked at by hundreds of people, the creature (played here by Ricou Browning) becomes angered and tries to escape his tank.  This leads to more strict means to hold the creature, which only makes it angrier when it finally escapes.  And as was the case with classic monster flicks of that era, it went after the first young, attractive woman it saw as it wanted her for a mate.  The creature is of course stopped in the end and the damsel in distress saved.  While the film is absolutely campy, the very fact that it’s part of a franchise featuring one of Hollywood’s great movie monsters, having the opportunity to take in this flick will be appreciated by any true classic movie buff.  As an added bit of trivia, a young Clint Eastwood plays an uncredited role in this campy sci-fi classic.

Revenge of the Creature is a great addition to the new MST3K set from Shout! Factory.  It’s just one of the movies included that make the set great for anyone that wants to go back in time to just one era of Hollywood’s “Golden Age.”  Along with that flick, classic film buffs will also appreciate the even campier, Operation Double 007.  This largely forgotten flick from 1967 starred the younger brother of now retired actor Sean Connery, Neil.  Neil plays a plastic surgeon that is brought on board by the British government when his older brother (who just happens to be a secret agent) turns out to not be available to help them for a special mission.  Here’s where things get completely ridiculous.  The mission in question involves Neil stopping the evil crime syndicate Thanatos from using a giant magnetic wave device that will stop all metal machinery in the world.  Yes, it’s laughable.  But that’s what makes it so fun.  Of course, the action is just as campy, making it that much more fun and funny.  Think it can’t get any worse?  It can.  Not only is the plot and the action hilarious, but the scriptwriters didn’t even try to give Connery’s character a name.  He is actually called by his real name throughout the story.  There is even more that classic film buffs will love and laugh at throughout this movie proving why it’s one more that’s so bad that it’s great.  Thanks to being part of this new set, it’s one more movie that would be great for a classic camp movie marathon.  Of course, it’s just one more in this set.  Audiences will also love Robot Holocaust and Kitten with a Whip.  They finish out the four disc set that’s available now in stores and online.  It can be ordered online direct at Shout! Factory’s online store, http://www.shoutfactorystore.com.

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it or its companion page, http://www.facebook.com/pages/Reel-Reviews/381028148587141.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.