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Suddenly (R)

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Frank Sinatra stars as a jittery presidential assassin in this unpretentious B-movie which features fine work by Sterling Hayden and James Gleason. The lesser known of the two films involving the singer which were withdrawn from distribution after the death of JFK -- the other is the brilliant The Manchurian Candidate -- it also deals with an attempted presidential assassination, while offering a more conventional portrait of cold-war hysteria and '50s conformity. Particularly in its suggestion that Nancy Gates' war widow character is a helpless creature badly in need of protection from the local cop, it's very much of its time. While its confinement to one set and workmanlike direction give the project the feel of a photographed play, the principal characters are fleshed-out well enough to be compelling for the brief running time of the film. Sinatra is excellent as the paranoid, embittered WWII vet who leads the team of hired assassins, Gleason has one of his best parts as a wily retiree who understands how to exploit the chinks in the killer's psyche, and Hayden is solid in a lesser role. Michael Costello, All Movie Guide