From a home-video perspective, Suddenly (’54) is one of the most shat-upon little movies of all time. A moderately decent political-assassination thriller with Frank Sinatra as a psycho bad guy, it’s been in the public domain for decades, and has always looked gray, hazy and diminished. Until a year ago, I mean, when Legend Films put out a slightly better looking b & w version. Now it has a bluish tint, and is more sharply defined.
The Legend guys also included a colorized version that corrected the legendary error made by the bozos at Hal Roach Studios when they put out a colorized VHS in which Sinatra’s eyes were brown.
“In 1959, five years after the release of Suddenly, a novel was published which had a remarkably similar ending,” the Wikipedia page says. “This was The Manchurian Candidate written by Richard Condon, a former Hollywood press agent recently turned novelist. His book also features a mentally troubled former war hero called Raymond Shaw who, at the climax, uses a rifle with scope to shoot at a presidential candidate. Because of such strong similarities, it is now thought that Suddenly was one inspiration for Condon’s Manchurian Candidate.”
In the late ’70s Suddenly costar Sterling Hayden (who lived in my home town of Wilton) told me that they made Suddenly before Sinatra’s big comeback in From Here to Eternity. (Hayden presumably meant before FHTE opened in August 1953, although he might have meant before Sinatra won his Best Supporting Actor Oscar in early ’54, since Suddenly opened in October 1954.) Even though Sinatra’s career was in a “down cycle,” as Hayden put it, he “still had the old kezazz.”
Each and everyone of us has to bring that old kezazz to our lives each and every day, and if we fail to do that on a consistent basis then we’re basically dead. I don’t have as much kezazz as I could right now, but at least I feel guilty about it and intend to rev up and get going later today.