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Shoot the president? Sinatra aims to do it his way.

Rod Lott January 11th, 2013

From 1954, Suddenly is the lesser-known of Frank Sinatra’s two films centered on a presidential assassination. Cry “sacrilege” if you wish, but I actually prefer it to the later, more polished, highly revered The Manchurian Candidate. Yes, Suddenly is a B-noir treatment of the same theme, but the underdog proves ridiculously effective.


Especially for generations who were introduced to Ol’ Blue Eyes via Cannonball Run II, it’s easy to forget Sinatra could act, and in Suddenly, he does that quite well as John Baron, an assassin for hire who takes over a nice family’s home in the small town of the title in order to whack the president of the U.S. with a high-powered file as the elected official steps off the train. The Godfather’s Sterling Hayden (who speaks like Phil Hartman) co-stars as Baron’s chief nemesis, the town sheriff.

Almost playing out in real time à la 24, TV director Lewis Allen’s picture builds suspense and slowly boils to a most clever ending. That much of the movie takes place in one room lends a great deal of tension to the proceedings.

A perennial public-domain DVD favorite, Suddenly looks positively splendid in Image Entertainment’s new Blu-ray. It’s struck from an original print, and sure looks it. With two commentaries (one by Sinatra’s son) and a kaleidoscopic short film on New York that bears no discernible direct connection, the disc is the definitive edition it proclaims itself to be. —Rod Lott

Hey! Read This:
The Cannonball Run Blu-ray review      
The Godfather: The Coppola Restoration DVD review     

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