This slick exploitation feature twirls about a fantastic plot to assassinate the President of the US. Robert Bassler's first indie chore since ankling 20th-Fox comes through as a well-worked-out meller. Taking its title from the name of the California town where the action unfolds, the Richard Sale script carries sufficient theme novelty to whet the imagination. Frank Sinatra, as a professional gunman hired to kill the President as he debarks from his special train for a few days' fishing in neighboring mountains, is an offbeat piece of casting which pays off in lively interest.

This slick exploitation feature twirls about a fantastic plot to assassinate the President of the US. Robert Bassler’s first indie chore since ankling 20th-Fox comes through as a well-worked-out meller. Taking its title from the name of the California town where the action unfolds, the Richard Sale script carries sufficient theme novelty to whet the imagination. Frank Sinatra, as a professional gunman hired to kill the President as he debarks from his special train for a few days’ fishing in neighboring mountains, is an offbeat piece of casting which pays off in lively interest.

Thesp inserts plenty of menace into a psycho character, never too heavily done, and gets good backing from his costar, Sterling Hayden, as sheriff, in a less showy role but just as authoritatively handled. Lewis Allen’s direction manages a smart piece where static treatment easily could have prevailed.

Action occurs within a few hours’ time on a Saturday afternoon in Suddenly, where nothing has happened for years. A group of Secret Service men, detailed to guard the President, precedes him to check the security of the station area. Almost simultaneously, John Baron (Sinatra) and two cohorts arrive and take over a house, overlooking the station, belonging to Benson (James Gleason), retired Secret Service operative, with the intention of using it as a sniper’s post.

Suddenly

Production

Libra. Director Lewis Allen; Producer Robert Bassler; Screenplay Richard Sale; Camera Charles G. Clarke; Editor John F. Schreyer; Music David Raksin; Art Director Frank Sylos

Crew

(B&W) Available on VHS. Extract of a review from 1954. Running time: 75 MIN.

With

Frank Sinatra Sterling Hayden James Gleason Nancy Gates Willis Bouchey Kim Charney
Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more