Nothing every really happens suddenly in Suddenly, California. At least that's what the local townsfolk say. Little do they know that all of that is about to change with one simple phone call.
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In this sleepy little town, the law enforcement don't have much to do. Give directions to the occasional passerby and assist little old ladies with their shopping bags perhaps. Tod Shaw (Sterling Hayden) is the town sheriff. He spends much time pursuing the affections of Ellen Benson (Nancy Gates), a widowed single mother. Her son Pidge (Kim Charney) seems to have taken to him quite well and hopes to follow in his career footsteps someday. Tod buys Pidge a toy cap gun even though his mom doesn't allow him to play with guns. This does not impress Ellen at all. In fact, she is quite annoyed and walks out on Tod. For now, Ellen is content to live up on the hill with her father-in-law Pop Benson (James Gleason).
After this particularly rough afternoon with Ellen, Tod is alerted to a telephone call by the local railway clerk. It seems that the President of the United States will be taking a train to Suddenly then disembark for his vacation ranch location. The chief secret service agent, Dan Carney (Willis Bouchey) is requesting full cooperation with the state and local police for added security measures. The police department stirs with excitement in preparation by securing the area, acquiring a limo as well as warning shopkeepers to clear out and close early. The one thing that the secret service doesn't tell is that there has been a possible assassination plot reported. Tod and his deputies have no way to expect what is coming next.
Ellen returns home and is quite annoyed with Pidge also. She tells him to go and put the toy gun away and Pidge protests. He complains that he can't even go to the movies because it's a war film and he is not allowed to watch those either. Pop tells him to never mind because he will fix the television so that they can watch the ball game. In the process he blows the thing up and has to call Jud (James O'Hara) the repair man. No one is surprised when a knock at the door comes, not at first that is. When the door is opened, three men are standing outside. They announce themselves as FBI and ask to come in. Pop is thrilled because he was a secret service man in the old days. The spokesman, John Baron (Frank Sinatra) has his men check the place out. After the all clear is given, Baron tells the family that they must stay put and be quite because they will be watching the president upon his arrival. Their house is a perfect vantage point for the railway station and all that is going on below. The family patriotically agrees and all is relaxed for a little while. Little do they know that these are the assassins. The truth of who the men are comes out when Tod and Dan Carney decide to pay a visit to the house themselves. Of course Carney knows that these are not his men and a struggle ensues. Dan is shot dead and Tod is wounded in the arm. Baron is pretty handy with a gun as it appears he won a silver star in the service for killing many men. Baron also appears to be more than a little touched in the head with an extremely short fuse. The family asks Baron if they may care for Tod's wound and he agrees. At that time, Pop lets on that there is a revolver in the drawer. Baron gets antsy and makes them return to the living room before they can get the gun loaded. A few minutes later, the innocent Jud walks into the picture totally unaware of the danger. He joins the hostages to wait for the assassination attempt.
The three gunmen prepare the shooting area by bringing in the kitchen table and securing a fancy new automatic weapon to the tabletop. Nerves are becoming more and more frayed, especially since Tod is working on Baron's fragile psychology. Baron finally breaks a bit and tells Jud to fix the television so that everyone can sit down and shut up. Pidge sneaks out, grabs this fake gun and returns to scare the three bad guys. From that point on they don't take Pidge too seriously. This could be a graven mistake later as you may see.
Baron begins to get a little too nervous about what is going on in town. He sends one of his men down to look around. The criminal bumps into a deputy sheriff and slips up on his explanation as to why he is in town. He gets trigger happy and shoots the deputy point blank. The gunman is then riddled by police bullets. Even though he cannot be questioned, this alerts the law enforcement that something may be going on. They go up to the Benson house to check it out as Tod and Dan have not returned. Baron forces Ellen to lie and put on a show. She does well and they police leave without incident.
This dashes the hopes of the hostages for a while. As the hour draws nearer they must figure out what to do. They cannot let these terrible men succeed!
The review of this Movie prepared by Talea