Suspicion – 1941 – English
Synopsis: Johnnie Aysgarth is a handsome gambler who seems to live by borrowing money from friends. He meets shy Lina McLaidlaw on a train while trying to travel in a first class car with a third class ticket. He begins to court Lina, and before long, they are married. It is only after the honeymoon that she discovers his true character, and she starts to become suspicious when Johnnie’s friend and business partner, Beaky, is mysteriously killed.
Review: This is a Hitchcock thriller from 1941, early in his American period, and earned its star, Joan Fontaine, an Academy Award for Best Actress. She’s excellent in the leading role, though her performance isn’t quite so fine-tuned as the one she gave in the previous year’s Rebecca, which this one in many ways resembles. As her gregarious and engaging gambler of a husband, Cary Grant overwhelms her in the acting and charisma departments.
The story is is old one about a woman who marries a mysterious and handsome gentleman who’s up to his ears in dark secrets. There’s not much more to it than that, aside from the little issue of whether or not he’s going to murder her for her money. When a close friend of the husband dies under mysterious circumstances, the wife’s suspicions begin to literally enshroud her, enveloping her in a haze of nervous expression. Hubby’s strange behavior and dark glances don’t help matters.
Adapted by Anthony Berkeley and Samson Raphaelson from a novel by Francis Iles, the movie suggests rural England better than most American films; and the supporting cast, which includes Dame May Witty, Cedric Hardwicke, Leo G. Carroll and especially Nigel Bruce, are all fine. Bruce plays Grant’s old school twit of a friend, and the scenes of the three of them,–Grant, Fontaine and Bruce–have a rare intimacy, as we really believe that these characters care for one another. The movie’s ending was controversial at the time, for a number of reasons. It works well enough for me, but then again Hitchcock generally does.