Suspicion

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Suspicion (1941)

Nov 27, 1999 (Updated Nov 27, 1999)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:suspense, comedy, cast, direction

Cons:cop-out ending

"Suspicion" is one of Alfred Hitchcock's best films, but it hasn't received the praise given freely to his more famous movies. This is partly because of the ending, which unlike the similar-themed "Shadow of a Doubt", 'cops out'. Cary Grant, who has been a scoundrel throughout, is suddenly built up as a hero.

Perhaps viewers would have preferred to see Grant digging a grave for Joan Fontaine in the back lot, whistling a tune as he packs dirt over her body. Such a disagreeable ending could only be enjoyed by a most cynical person, and while many of us qualify, it is too much to ask of Hollywood's Production Code from 1941.

It is true, however, that the book has a different ending. "Suspicion" was adapted from Frances Iles' "Before the Fact". In the novel, Grant's character is a murderer, and the glass of milk (which glows ominously in the film, due to a light bulb inside the glass) really is poisoned. But you can't disregard the quality of a hundred minute movie because of the last two minutes. It is the suspense leading up to the ending that matters. This is done very well, and culminates in a terrifying, reckless car ride along a dangerous mountain road.

"Suspicion" begins as a romantic comedy. Early scenes are a riot, particularly the courtship between Grant and Fontaine. He calls her 'monkey face' constantly, and has an impish, rogue attitude that bewilders the polite and proper Fontaine. She plays the sheltered daughter of wealthy blue-bloods (Cedric Hardwicke and Dame May Whitty, who at age 76 may have been too old to play Fontaine's mother!).

Anxious to escape the suffocating role of spinster, Fontaine weds spendthrift, hedonistic Grant. But not only is he broke, he owes money to gamblers and disdains employment. Grant tries to take advantage of his best friend, affable Nigel Bruce (whom you may recognize as Dr. Watson from 1940s 'Sherlock Holmes' films). Fontaine suspects that she is next, as her life insurance policy would pay off Grant's debts. The tension rises throughout the film, with Hitchcock once again earning his reputation as the 'master of suspense'.

"Suspicion" was an American production, for RKO (later known as Paramount). But you'd never know it. It is set in England, and has a largely British cast (Fontaine was born in Tokyo, Japan, along with her sister Olivia de Havilland, but they were the daughters of an English lawyer).

Fontaine and Bruce had worked for Hitchcock in "Rebecca" the year before. Fontaine had been nominated for Best Actress that year but didn't win. She had better luck with "Suspicion", winning the Oscar. "Suspicion" was also nominated for Best Picture, but unlike "Rebecca", did not win. Grant and Fontaine had played love interests before, in 1939's "Gunga Din". Hitchcock would use Grant three more times, in "Notorious", "To Catch a Thief" and "North by Northwest". (90/100)


Recommend this product? Yes


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