8 août 1952. Toujours aussi chaud en ce mois d’août. Un temps idéal pour se réfugier dans une salle de cinéma et jouer à se faire peur devant Sudden Fear de David Miller avec Joan Crawford et Jack Palance. Et ce n’est pas la chronique de A.W. qui va démotiver notre passant cinéphile.
Critique d’époque :
« Since she is an actress who is sturdy enough to bear the weight of an unsensational yarn, Joan Crawford should be credited with a truly professional performance in Sudden Fear, which came to Loew’s State yesterday. In this romantic suspense story, Miss Crawford, playing a rich, successful playwright, who gives her heart and hand to the wrong actor, does notably well in an exercise which involves practically all the emotions. Sudden Fear is a polished vehicle for her talents but its contains nothing that is strikingly surprising.
It is a vehicle which takes quite a spell to get rolling but once it does the acceleration is noticeable and often exciting. An excess of palaver stalls it as the characters of the principals are established. Thereafter, however, the proceedings become more taut as our man is revealed as a satanic gent, who spurred on by a designing girl friend, is planning to kill his play-wright-mate for her wealth. Miss Crawford, of course, accidentally discovers that her marriage and her husband are less than perfect through a conversation caught by a recording machine in her library. And, it is her efforts to avoid sudden death that constitute the meat of this offering.
A viewer not entirely a slave to Miss Crawford’s brand of histrionics might argue that an excessive amount of footage is given to close-ups of the lady in the throes of mental traumas and other emotional disturbances. In general, however, she behaves in a convincing manner since, after all, she is involved with a homicidal husband. Jack Palance, as the actor she fires because he is unsuited for her play and then marries, depicts that wily schemer in a suave style. He is a slick operator but, it appears to this observer, hardly the type for whom a worldly-wise heiress-playwright would fall. Gloria Grahame adds an excellent portrayal as the hard, brash and sexy blonde who goads our villain to desperate deeds, and Bruce Bennett, Touch Connors and Virginia Huston are adequate as Miss Crawford’s lawyers and secretary, respectively.
The entire production has been mounted in excellent taste and, it must be pointed out, that San Francisco, in which most of the action takes place, is an excitingly photogenic area. David Miller, the director, has taken full advantage of the city’s steep streets and panoramic views. And, in his climactic scenes in a darkened apartment and a chase through its precipitous dark alleys and backyards he has managed to project an authentically doom-filled atmosphere. Aside from the moments of genuine fear, shock and mental torture suffered by the harried heroine, Sudden Fear is simply a cleverly turned melodrama, but one that is hardly spine-chilling« . Par A.W. pour le New York Times.
Critique mitigée pour A.W. S’il reconnaît le professionnalisme de Joan Crawford et la qualité générale du casting, il regrette une intrigue cousue de fil blanc prenant trop son temps avant d’entrer réellement dans le vif du sujet. Un résultat en demi-teinte.
Ma chronique, bien plus enthousiaste, directement ici.