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When it comes to love, San Franciscans are easily duped. Take Sudden Fear‘s Myra Hudson for example. Myra (Joan Crawford) is an heiress playwright who has an actor fired during rehearsal because he doesn’t look “romantic” enough. A few weeks later, they meet again on a train, he woos her, and they marry soon after. Lester (Jack Palance) may not look romantic, but he certainly fools Myra into a lover’s blindness. Now all he needs to do is plan a little accident for Myra so that he and his ex (Gloria Grahame) can cash in.

We see this same fear–a murderous spouse–played out in So I Married an Axe Murderer, though Sudden Fear came decades before in 1952. No wonder California didn’t think the gays were ready: every time people in San Francisco get married, their husbands want to do them in. Chances are, if you haven’t been axed yet then you’re the slasher waiting to snap. I hope you married rich.

Watching Sudden Fear today, we are reminded of a contemporary female writer with some marital trouble. Both, in fact, live in Pac Heights.

Danielle Steel resides in the Spreckels Mansion, and though she’s escaped her husbands’ conniving bloodthirsts, it’s fair to say she’s the modern-day Myra. A bride five times over (we’re not judging!), Steel has been unlucky…at least the everlasting, ’til death do us part kind of love. Both women know romance when they see it and perhaps let their guards down too low when the romance jumps off the page. And they are prolific writers, as one colleague describes Myra as a writer who “needs another hit like Rockefeller needs another million.” Steel, on the other hand, is in the Guinness Book of World Records for most consecutive weeks on the New York Times Bestseller List.

Ms. Steel, Sudden Fear is a message to you. Take heed, for someday you will have to escape your greedy lover as he roams the streets waiting to run you over with his car.

Catherine Tramell, too, got bored with just being rich. Murder is a game best played by the moneybags and those married into money. Better keep them writing blogs before they start getting any ideas.

Sudden Fear is available on Netflix and Amazon.

Starring San Francisco is Appeal events editor, Christine Borden’s, take on the city’s cinematic past to illuminate today. Have a locally set film you’d like to see featured? Tell her at

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