SINATRA, OSWALD & “SUDDENLY”

October 19, 2018 at 5:15 am

An obscure Frank Sinatra film, made in 1954, about the assassination of the president, is said to have been viewed by Lee Harvey Oswald just days before he murdered JFK. Now, “Suddenly” comes to the stage.

Aired on October 19, 2018.

 

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>> THE 1954 POLITICAL THRILLER
IS SUDDENLY THE TRIO OF RUTHLESS
ASSASSINS WHO ARRIVE IN
CALIFORNIA WITH ONE SINISTER
PURPOSE.
TO ASSASSINATE THE PRESIDENT OF
THE UNITED STATES, WHO IS
SCHEDULED TO MAKE A BRIEF STOP
IN THIS REMOTE RURAL COMMUNITY.
THE FILM STARRING FRANK SINATRA
AS THE PSYCHOPATHIC CHIEF
ASSASSIN, TAKES PLACE IN A
HILLTOP HOUSE.
THE HOME OF AN INNOCENT FAMILY,
THE KILLERS HAVE TAKEN HOSTAGE
AS THEY AWAIT THE ARRIVAL OF THE
PRESIDENT.
HERE'S A LOOK.
>> MRS. BENSON?
>> THAT'S RIGHT.
>> IS YOUR HUSBAND AT HOME?
>> NO, I'M A WIDOW.
>> WHAT I SHOULD HAVE ASKED WAS,
ARE YOU THE OWNER OF THIS HOUSE?
>> NO, IT BELONGS TO MY
FATHER
FATHER-IN-LAW.
I'M FROM THE FBI.
I'M SORRY I AM AFRAID WE'RE
GOING TO HAVE TO HANG AROUND FOR
A WHILE.
>> WHAT'S HAPPENED?
>> AT 5:00 P.M., THE PRESIDENT
ARRIVES IN THIS TOWN.
IF ANYONE WANTED TO KILL THE
PRESIDENT, HE COULD DO A
WONDERFUL JOB OF IT FROM THIS
WINDOW OF YOURS.
>> THE FILM HAS BEEN ADAPTED FOR
THE STAGE.
THANKS FOR JOINING US.
>> THANKS FOR HAVING US.
>> LET'S START WITH THE FILM.
YOU KNOW, AS IT TURNS OUT, THE
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER OF METRO
FOCUS DAVE BROWN AND I SAW THIS
FILM YEARS AGO.
WE TALKED ABOUT IT MANY TIMES
LONG BEFORE WE KNEW YOU GUYS
WERE GOING TO PUT IT ON THE
STAGE.
AND BOTH OF US HAD THE SAME
EXPERIENCE.
WE THOUGHT IT WAS FANTASTIC, IT
STUCK WITH US.
OBVIOUSLY WE LEARNED ABOUT IT.
WHAT'S THE MYSTERY?
>> A COUPLE THINGS, IT'S SO
STRANGE TO HAVE THIS SINATRA
FILM THAT YOU MAYBE HAVE NEVER
HEARD OF, AND SO IT STANDS OUT
TO YOU RIGHT AWAY, BECAUSE
YOU'RE THINKING, WHAT IS THIS?
I'VE NEVER HEARD OF IT, BUT
ALSO, THE STORY IS SO COMPELLING
TOO, IT'S ABOUT THIS
ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT.
AND -- WHICH IS COMPELLING IN
AND OF ITSELF, AND INTERESTING,
AND DRAMATIC, AND INTRIGUING.
BUT F IT'S ALSO ULTIMATELY THIS
HOME INVASION, AS YOU WATCH IT,
I THINK EVEN THOUGH IT UNFOLDS
DURING THE DAYLIGHT HOURS AND
IT'S ALL INSIDE THIS HOUSE, YOU
GET REALLY WRAPPED UP INTO THE
STORY, BECAUSE YOU'RE ROOTING
FOR THESE CHARACTERS WHO ARE
JUST TRYING TO LIVE THEIR LIVES
AND THEIR HOUSE BECOMES UNDER
SIEGE.
AND HOW ARE THEY GOING TO GET
OUT OF THIS.
>> WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO MAKE IT
A PLAY?
>> SURE.
IT'S INTERESTING BECAUSE I FOUND
THE FILM KIND OF TOTALLY
RANDOMLY.
AND WE WATCHED IT, TOGETHER.
YOU AND I WATCHED IT TOGETHER
WITH A FEW OTHER PEOPLE IN THE
COMPANY.
AND IT READ LIKE IT WAS WRITTEN
YESTERDAY IN A LOT OF WAYS, IT'S
VERY TOPICAL, AND SORT OF ALL
ABOUT AMERICAN CULTURE OF
VIOLENCE AND WE THOUGHT SO MUCH
OF IT HAPPENS IN THE HOUSE
ALREADY.
MUCH LIKE A PLAY SCRIPT, AND SO
IT SEEMED LIKE THE NATURAL NEXT
STEP TO BREATHE NEW LIFE INTO
THIS.
IT'S SORT OF BEEN FORGOTTEN IN
SOME AREAS.
>> HOW DIFFICULT WAS IT FOR YOU
TO TRANSLATE THIS FILM ON TO THE
STAGE?
>> RIGHT, SO TYLER MENTIONED, WE
STARTED FROM A SORT OF A
PRACTICAL EXERCISE OF CONFINING
ALL OF THE ACTIONS THAT TAKES
PLACE IN THE FILM ON TO ONE
CENTRAL LOCATION.
WHICH IS THE FAMILY'S HOUSE.
IT CAME ABOUT REALLY FINETUNING,
WHAT ABOUT THE STORY.
WE WANTED TO FOCUS ON FOR THE
STAGE AND ALSO WHAT ELEMENTS WE
FELT NEEDED TO BE JETTY SONNED
BECAUSE IT MAY NOT BE UNDERSTOOD
BY AN AUDIENCE.
>> BESIDES THOSE CHANGES YOU
MADE, THE STORY ITSELF IS PRETTY
MUCH IN TACT?
>> THAT'S RIGHT.
THE MAIN THRUST OF THE PLOT IS
ALL THERE.
THOSE WHO ARE FAMILIAR AND
PERHAPS EVEN FANS OF THE
ORIGINAL FILM, THAT'S ALL THERE
FOR THEM.
>> IT SEEMED TO ME THAT ONE OF
THE BIG MESSAGES OF THE FILM IS
THAT GUNS ARE SO POWERFUL THAT
WE HAVE TO MAKE SURE THAT IT'S
NOT JUST PSYCHOPATH AND BAD GUYS
HAVE ACCESS TO THEM.
AND IN FACT AS IN THE MOVIE
WITNESS, IT'S THE PERSON MOST
ADVERSE TO THE GUNS WHO ENDS UP
HAVING TO USE IT IN ORDER TO
PROTECT THE GOOD GUYS FROM THE
BAD GUYS.
IS THAT A THEME THAT THE PLAY
ALSO HAS?
>> THAT'S EXACTLY RIGHT.
LOOKING AT THE COMPLEXITY OF
THIS TOPIC, AND AS TIME GOES ON,
THE RELEVANCE CHANGES AND MAYBE
INCREASES.
AND I REMEMBER THAT WE DID A
READING OF THIS PIECE TWO YEARS
AGO, AND WE THOUGHT -- WELL,
THIS IS SO RELEVANT NOW, IT MAY
NOT BE RELEVANT IN TWO YEARS
WHEN WE'RE READY TO BRO DEUCE
THIS.
AND HERE WE STILL ARE.
>> I HAVE TO GET INTO THIS,
FRANK SINATRA, AS I SAID, THAT'S
THE BEST PERFORMANCE ON SCREEN
THAT I'VE EVER SEEN HIM GIVE.
NEVERTHELESS, HE ASKED THE
STUDIO, TO PULL THE FILM FROM
PUBLIC ACCESS AT ONE POINT.
AS QUICKLY AS YOU CAN, TELL US
WHY HE DID THAT?
>> WELL, WHAT WE UNDERSTAND IS
THAT HE ASKED THAT BECAUSE HE
WAS EMBARRASSED BY THE FILM'S
PROXIMITY TO THE KENNEDY
ASSASSINATION, AND HE WAS
FRIENDS WITH KENNEDY, AND THERE
IS A RUMOR AS WELL THAT IT WAS
THE LAST FILM THAT OSWALD
WATCHED BEFORE THE
ASSASSINATION.
AND SO CERTAINLY I THINK HE WAS
DISTURBED BY ALL OF THOSE FACTS
COMBINED WITH THE FACT THAT HE'S
PORTRAYING THE ASSASSIN THAT
POTENTIALLY INSPIRED LATER
EVENTS.
>> FASCINATING.
EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS IS
FASCINATING.
GOOD LUCK, GUYS.
>> THANK YOU.
>> IT'S A GREAT IDEA.
THANKS SO MUCH.
>> THE LIVE SOURCE THEATER
GROUPS PRODUCTION IS PLAYING A
LIMITED ENGAGEMENT AT THE ARTS
CENTER UNTIL OCTOBER 20th.
FOR MORE INFORMATION PLEASE
VISIT OUR WEBSITE AT
METROFOCUS.ORG.

Mutual of America PSEG

Funders

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