YouTube Noir — Noirvember Day 9: Sudden Fear (1952)

Sudden Fear (1952) holds a special place in my heart.

First of all, it stars my girl Joan Crawford.

Secondly, it’s one of the first noirs I ever saw on the big screen. It was at Chicago’s Music Box Theater, and as I sat there in the dark, I was practically overcome by the intelligent script, the escalating tension, the top-notch performances.  

When you first start watching it, you might not even believe that you’re seeing a noir – there’s nothing about it that even hints at the darkness to come. But then, right around minute 22, something happens that lets you know that there’s more to this film than meets the eye. And the more you watch, the more you know: this is noir.


Crawford is Myra Hudson, a San Francisco heiress and successful playwright who, after a whirlwind romance, marries the stage actor (Palance) she’d previously had fired from her latest hit play. The duo appear to be blissfully in love, but if you know anything about noir, you’ll know that’s not Cupid lurking in the shadows. (It’s Gloria Grahame!)


Gloria Grahame and Touch Conners — soon to become Mike Connors.

The film’s cast includes Touch Conners – better known by his modified moniker, Mike Connors, star of the popular 1970s TV show Mannix. Also on hand are Virginia Huston, who you’ll recognize as Robert Mitchum’s true love in Out of the Past (1947), and Bruce Bennett, who co-starred with Crawford in Mildred Pierce (1945). And in a minor role is Taylor Holmes, who can be seen in several other noirs, including Nightmare Alley (1947), Kiss of Death (1947), Quicksand (1950), and Beware, My Lovely (1952). Incidentally, Holmes was the father of actor Phillips Holmes, who was popular during the pre-Code era.

Keep your eyes peeled for this goof. Toward the end of the film, when Conners takes Gloria Grahame to her apartment after an evening out, Grahame grapples with him as he tries twice to close the door. Both times, if you look carefully, you can see a disembodied hand outside in the hallway, reaching for the knob to pull the door closed.

Joan Crawford’s performance earned her a Best Actress Academy Award nomination. She lost to Shirley Booth in Come Back, Little Sheba (1952).


Join me for my next YouTube recommendation on Day 10 of Noirvember!

~ by shadowsandsatin on November 9, 2020.

4 Responses to “YouTube Noir — Noirvember Day 9: Sudden Fear (1952)”

  1. Sudden Fear is new to me. Well, it was about three years ago but the feeling is fresh. My daughter and I were on the edges of our seats watching this one. I’m not even sure we breathed during the finale! I guess we must have been because we’re still here and I’m pretty sure she was screaming.

  2. Yay-great post on a favorite Noir! I wish I had the chance to see it in a historic theater like you did. Years ago, I bought Kino’s DVD box set, “Film Noir: The Dark Side of Hollywood” which contains “Sudden Fear”, “The Long Night”, “Hangmen Also Die”, “Railroaded”, and “Behind Locked Doors.” I loved “Sudden Fear” for many reasons, including the San Francisco location shots. I think I’ll rewatch it tonight! Thanks for the fun post! I always look forward to your Noirvember musings!

    • Thank you, Amy! What a great box set! I’m thinking about including Railroaded in my YouTube noir series — I’ve never seen Hangmen Also Die (although I love the title) — how is it?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: