Horses that owe me money!

At some point during the 1952 thriller Sudden Fear, Joan Crawford breaks into the apartment of her husband’s lover with the intention of stealing both a gun, and a sample of the woman’s handwriting. While I’ve watched the scene a number of times, it hadn’t occurred to me until last night to actually slow the film down and read the resting sample that Crawford takes from the desk of the woman, played brilliantly by Gloria Grahame, the actress probably best known for her portrayal of Violet Bick in It’s a Wonderful Life. So, with that said, here’s the note taking by Crawford, which I find kind of fascinating, as it gives a glimpse into how director David Miller, at least on some subliminal level, wants us to see this woman played by Grahame… as the kind of slightly unhinged grifter who might keep a list of race horses that had done her wrong. It’s a tiny thing, but, on this rainy Saturday morning, as I lay here in bed trying to ignore Donald Trump’s Twitter feed, it seemed like something worth mentioning. And it makes me also think that maybe there’s a book in it… an exploration of the tiny, almost imperceptible ways in which directors attempt to convey the personalities of their characters in split second shots.

If you’ve never seen Sudden Fear, and if you can get beyond the spoiler of knowing that Crawford’s husband in the film, played by the exceptionally creepy Jack Palance, has an affair with a murderous young blonde with a grudge against certain horses, I’d encourage you to set aside a few hours and watch it. Today’s the perfect rainy day for it. And it would make an incredible double feature with Mildred Pierce, if you’re up for it. [You can find both films available for rent on Amazon: Sudden Fear, Mildred Pierce.]

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  1. Posted August 25, 2018 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    Will someone please remind me, if I ever get rich and own a race horse, to name it War Gift or Love Gone?

  2. Posted August 25, 2018 at 9:58 am | Permalink

    Oh, here’s a little piece of trivia that I don’t think many people know. Do you remember the scene in The Omen where Damian’s nanny kills herself during his birthday party? Well, the actress who played that part… the one who stood on the roof and said “look, Damien, it’s all for you”… is Jack Palance’s daughter.

  3. Jean Henry
    Posted August 25, 2018 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    I love that note.
    It would be good to start an Instagram feed of these screen shots. I often stop a film to read things—notes or background images/signs. Maybe this is common. My brain is too tired to think of a name. Screen Shots comes to mind but that’s already taken. Actually maybe it could be of any home made movie stills. I take a lot of those too, usually with subtitles.

  4. Anonymous
    Posted August 25, 2018 at 10:17 am | Permalink

    Gloria Grahame was a tragic figure, obsessed by plastic surgery and her physical appearance. She also won Supporting Actress Oscar for The Bad and the Beautiful.

    Wikipedia: Over time Grahame became increasingly concerned with her physical appearance; she particularly felt her upper lip was too thin and had ridges that were too deep. She began stuffing cotton or tissue under it, which she felt gave her a sexier look. Several co-stars discovered this during kissing scenes. In the mid-1940s, Grahame began undergoing small cosmetic procedures on her lips and face. According to her niece, Vicky Mitchum, Grahame’s obsession with her looks led her to undergo more cosmetic procedures that rendered her upper lip largely immobile because of nerve damage. Mitchum said, “Over the years, she [Grahame] carved herself up, trying to make herself into an image of beauty she felt should exist but didn’t. Others saw her as a beautiful person but she never did, and crazy things spread from that.”

  5. Jcp2
    Posted August 25, 2018 at 10:30 am | Permalink

    There’s a whole industry built around personal appearance insecurity. Dr. Bumbum was filling a demand. For men, it’s steroids and human growth hormone, rather than fillers and Botox.

  6. Lynne
    Posted August 25, 2018 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    It isn’t just steroids and human growth hormone! We use body insecurity to sell all kinds of things, often things not even related to appearance. We also equate a beauty with morality. It is no wonder that people get freaked out by perceived flaws.

    I find that list to be funny because I went to track last night and the horse I bet on won EVERY race in which I bet! Or at least came in third (there were a couple of races where I bet on a horse to show) I have no list of horses that done me wrong. And I have $12

  7. Jean Henry
    Posted August 25, 2018 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    Thank you JCP2 for pointing up male body insecurity. We live in a culture that pretends such insecurities are a female problem. Anyone middle aged and single can assure you it’s otherwise. I often think male body/aging insecurity is woeee because it goes mostly unacjnowledged and gets sublimated into some f’d up aggressions/aversions/impulses.

  8. Kim
    Posted August 25, 2018 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

    I saw a documentary once where a young bro was crying because his calf muscles weren’t as bah as they guys he lifted with. He was almost in tears. It ended with him getting comically large implants.

  9. Dan R.
    Posted August 25, 2018 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    That’s a great book idea! Write it.

  10. M
    Posted August 25, 2018 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

    Bruce Vilanch tells a story about a drunken Joan Crawford hanging her ass over a second story railing in her home and pissing on David Niven’s head.

  11. Dan Blakeney
    Posted August 25, 2018 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

    Never bet on a horse named Tripod.

  12. movie fan
    Posted August 25, 2018 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

    There are both a movie and a book about Grahame’s later life called Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool. She’s portrayed by Annette Bening.

  13. Ypsidoodledandy
    Posted August 25, 2018 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

    Not able to comment on your previous article–something about the captcha does not seem to be working. fyi

  14. Concerned Michiganian
    Posted August 25, 2018 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

    #Bernie2020 #BlueWave2018

    We can win!

  15. Posted August 25, 2018 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

    Your comment was stuck in the spam folder, Ypsidoodledandy. I released it.

  16. Dexterite
    Posted August 25, 2018 at 8:21 pm | Permalink

    Sorry for going off-topic, but did I just see a banner of a poop parade that has been bedazzled or glittered??? If so, COOL!! If not, refer me to a good eye doctor (or explain).

  17. Frosted Flakes
    Posted August 25, 2018 at 9:03 pm | Permalink


    Use the search function to search for a couple of articles about “Rebekah Modrak”, “plungers”, “axes”, “better made”, “best made”. The banner will make more sense after reading those posts.

  18. Elviscostello
    Posted September 8, 2018 at 8:12 am | Permalink

    If you get a chance, watch, Film Stars don’t die in Liverpool. It’s a great film, Annette Bening plays Gloria Grahame.

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