director David Miller
When a dictaphone is shown in the home office of a writer with such elaborate demonstration, you know it’s going be a key plot device later in the film. And that’s the thing with Sudden Fear. It’s not so much boilerplate woman-in-distress noir, as it is rather conventional and obvious.
Leave it to star Joan Crawford and an excellent Gloria Grahame and a slithery Jack Palance to give heft to this piece. And old San Francisco gets shown off in some glory as well, maybe not as primely as in a couple other notable SF noirs, but still pretty nice.
I’ve always had some weird issue with Crawford, just the extremity of her visage. Those eyebrows! That mouth! Those eyes, almost always glaring. But she’s very good here as the semi-spinsterish successful playwright who foolishly falls for an actor she fired (Palance). Grahame on the other hand is pitch perfect as Palance’s floozy girlfriend, pretty and nasty.
I guess that’s why there were movie stars. To elevate mediocre pictures to decent ones.