SUDDENLY
1954, Lobster Films, 86 min, USA, Dir: Lewis Allen

In this tense thriller, Hayden plays a small-town sheriff confronting a trio of paid killers bent on assassinating the vacationing president of the United States. Frank Sinatra is electrifying as the boss bad guy; the actor-singer tried to buy up all copies of this film after the murder of John F. Kennedy. Lewis Allen provides his strongest directing effort for Richard Sale’s taut, suspenseful script.


NAKED ALIBI
1953, Universal, 86 min, USA, Dir: Jerry Hopper

A murder suspect (Gene Barry), released for lack of evidence, vows vengeance on the cops who brutalized him. When one of those cops turns up dead, his partner (Sterling Hayden) hunts down the “innocent” man to prove him guilty. Both end up in thrall to bordertown bad girl Gloria Grahame, whose unique sexiness is on full display in this ultra-rare potboiler! Screenplay by Lawrence Roman, from a story by Gladys Atwater and Robert Bren. Directed by Jerry Hopper. NOT ON DVD


JOHNNY GUITAR
1954, Republic (Paramount), 110 min, USA, Dir: Nicholas Ray

Joan Crawford is headstrong Vienna, a saloon owner waiting for the railroad to reach her town. Her friendship with charming outlaw the Dancing Kid (Scott Brady) jeopardizes her standing in the local community. Uptight landowners led by jealous Emma (a frightening Mercedes McCambridge) will do anything to repress her yen for the Kid, even if it means lynching half the town to do it. Enter Vienna’s old flame, Johnny (Sterling Hayden), a quick-draw who’s given up guns for a guitar. Only director Nicholas Ray could pull off this color-coded, violent, romantic tall tale rife with allegorical references to the rabid right wing of 1950s America. Victor Young did the lush score, with Peggy Lee singing the torrid theme song. Co-starring Ward Bond, Ernest Borgnine, John Carradine.


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