- by ZoŽ Shaw
Johnnie is sincere for the
first time in his life when he falls in love with Lina. When Beaky, a
friend, dies suddenly, Lina begins to believe that Johnnie is a murderer and
that she will be the next victim.
- by Georgia
The film version of Frances
Iles' Before the Fact ,
Alfred Hitchcocks 'Suspicion' is a sordid look at a wife suspecting her husband of
murder. Cary Grant is Johnnie Aysgarth, a charming, debonair, English bachelor who
surprisingly falls in love with the bookish Lina McLaidlaw (Joan Fontaine). As Johnnie has
been cheating and stealing since school days the relationship is not exactly welcomed by
Lina's parents causing the two to elope.
Once back from their honeymoon Lina discovers that Johnnie
has no income but what is more distressing, he has bought them an expensive house and
commissioned an interior designer and to add to that gambles what little money they have
at the racetrack.
Due to Lina's obvious disapproval, Johnnie finds a job
working for a relative of his, Captain Melbeck, played by Leo G. Carroll, but to afford the
good life he so enjoys becomes involved in an embezzling scheme and is promptly fired but
neglects to inform Lina.
Beaky a friend of Johnnie's arrives as a houseguest and
Johnnie's strange behaviour towards him causes Lina to assume that maybe there is more to
Johnnie than she would like to acknowledge, a dark and sinister side.
The two boys then decide to go to Europe to investigate a
financial venture but Beaky suddenly dies which forces Lina to think that Johnnie is a
murderer and she is his next victim and every unusual action he makes, Lina interprets as
an attempt on her life.
She falls ill due to either stress or worry and decides it
would be best if she spent a few weeks with her mother but Johnnie is not too happy with
the prospect but as he cannot change her mind insists on driving her. While driving round
the seaside cliffs of the English countryside Lina's door swings open and Johnnie swings
over to pull her back in, but she thinks to push her out. He stops the car and explains
all his sinister actions were attempted suicide as he was in such dire straits concerning
money and that he had no intention of harming her in anyway.
The conclusion was as weak as water compared to quite a
compelling film, and it was not the way in which Hitchcock had intended but as always the
studios stepped in yet again to ruin another superior film. RKO did not wish for Cary
Grant to play a murderer and in the proposed ending of Cary delivering Lina a glass of
poisoned milk (the films most famous scene) and posting a letter from Lina to her mother
whistling on his way was considered far too risky as it may have affected Grants box
Film Review - September 24, 1941
- by "Walt"
- by Barry Martin
Alfred Hitchcock's trademarked cinematic development of
suspenseful drama, through mental emotions of the story
principals, is vividly displayed in 'Suspicion,' a class
production provided with excellence in direction, acting and
mounting. Picture is due for critical attention and strong
women patronage in the key runs, to follow through for profitable
biz in the subsequent bookings with the adult trade.
Joan Fontaine equals her
highly-rating performance in 'Rebecca' as the pivotal factor in
the tale, successfully transposing to the screen her innermost
emotions and fears over the wastrel and apparently-murderous
antics of her husband. Cary Grant, although gaining no
sympathy in his role of the latter, turns in a sparkling
characterization as the bounder who continually discounts
financial responsibilities and finally gets jammed over thefts
from his employer. Nigel Bruce is outstanding in support,
with Sir Cedric Hardwicke, Dame May Whitty, and Heather Angel
capably handling respective cast assignments.
In switching tragic ending of
Francis Iles' novel in favor of a happy finale, Hitchcock and his
scripters devised a most inept and inconclusive windup that fails
to measure up to the dramatic intensity of preceding footage, and
this doesn't reach the climax expected. In this respect,
picture structure is deficient, and it is obvious that the writers
endeavored to toss in the happy ending in a few hundred feet and
let it go at that.
Unfolded in the leisurely pace that
is characteristic of British cinematic story-telling technique,
Hitchcock deftly displays the effect of occurrences on the inner
emotions of the wife. Protected girl of an English country
manor, Miss Fontaine falls in love and elopes with Grant, an
impecunious and happy-go-lucky individual, who figured her family
would amply provide for both of them. Deeply in love, she
overlooks his monetary irresponsibilities until discovery that he
has stolen a large sum from an estate, and prosecution and
exposure looms. Burden of events finally develops mental
attitude that her husband would even commit murder to secure funds
for repayment, and this suspicion is heightened when Grant's
friend, Bruce, dies during visit to Paris - with the wife
believing the husband responsible. Finally at the breaking
point of nervous tension, she believes Grant would even stoop to
poisoning her to secure insurance to repay his thefts.
Finish, with satisfactory explanations and happy reconciliation,
replaces the tragic ending of the book.
Under Hitchcock's guidance, picture
develops plenty of suspense and appeal to the women sector in
displaying a wife's development of mental hysteria through burden
of real or imagined criminal tendencies. Production is
excellently mounted throughout, with English settings and Harry
Stradling's photography of top grade.
NEW YORK TIMES Film Review - November 21, 1941
- by Bosley Crowther
- submitted by Barry Martin
If Alfred Hitchcock were not the fine film director that he is,
the chances are better than even that he would be a distinguished
light at the (legal) bar. For very few lawyers are gifted
with the special ability which is his to put a case together in
the most innocent but subtle way, to plant prima facie evidence
without rousing the slightest alarm and then suddenly to muster
his assumptions and drive home a staggering attack. Mr.
Hitchcock is probably the most artful sophist working for the
films - and anyone who doesn't think so should see
"Suspicion" at the Music Hall.
True, we should incidentally warn
you that this is not Mr. Hitchcock at his best, for the clerical
staff which helped him prepare his brief for this case did not
provide too much in the way of material. Those highly
intriguing complications which have featured some of his previous
master works are lacking in this instance. Rather Mr.
Hitchcock is compelled to construct his attack around a straight
psychological progression: a shy, deeply sensitive English girl
marries a charming rakehell in maiden innocence, and then, through
accumulated evidence, begins to suspect him of dark and foul
deeds, suspects of murdering two dear people and finally of having
designs upon herself.
Clearly, Mr. Hitchcock's problem is
to give this simple story great consequence - to build, out of
slight suggestions and vague, uncertain thoughts, a mounting tower
of suspicion which looms forbiddingly. And this he does
magnificently with his customary casualness. An early remark
dropped by the girl's father to the effect that her intended is a
cheat, a scene in which the husband acts strangely indifferent to
a friend when the latter is seized with a heart attack, a little
squabble over a slight untruth - all are directed by Mr. Hitchcock
so that they seem inconsequential at the time but still with a
sinister undertone which grows as the tension mounts.
Much of his purpose is accomplished
through the performance of Joan Fontaine, it must be said, and
she, as well as Mr. Hitchcock, deserves unstinted praise.
This young lady has unquestionably become one of the finest
actresses on the screen, and one of the most beautiful, too; and
her development in this picture of a fear-tortured character is
fluid and compelling all tlhe way. Cary Grant as the husband
is provokingly irresponsible, boyishly gay and also oddly
mysterious, as the role properly demands; and Nigel Bruce, Sir
Cedric Hardwick and Leo G. Carroll are fine in minor roles.
One must remark that the ending is
not up to Mr. Hitchcock's usual style, and the general atmosphere
of the picture is far less genuine than he previously has
wrought. But still he has managed to bring through a tense
and exciting take, a psychological thriller which is packed with
lively suspense and a picture that entertains you from beginning
to - well, almost the end.
- by Kathy Fox
This is Cary Grant's first motion
picture with Alfred Hitchcock and his second movie with Joan Fontaine.
Joan appeared with Cary Grant in 1939 in GUNGA DIN. This picture was
nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture, for Best Director, and for
Best Actress, but only Joan Fontaine won in the Best Actress category.
Cary plays the part of Johnny Asygarth, a ne're-do-well, and Joan
Fontaine plays Lina McLaidlaw a wealthy young lady. They meet on a
train and Johnny pursues Lina and they are finally married without her
parent's permission. The script was not finished when filming began
and revisions continued throughout shooting. Since the ending was not
known, Grant and Fontaine had a difficult time finding their characters'
motivations. The book Before the Fact, a British novel, on
which SUSPICION is based, has the ending of Johnny Asygarth murdering his
wife. However, since Cary Grant was playing the part, it was decided
that he could not be a murderer, so the film played out the scenario that
Lina only thought in her mind that her husband was going to kill her.
Many of the things that he did reinforced her feelings that he only married
her for her money. You can see Cary on the screen turn from a
laughing, funny and enjoyable person in an instant to a menacing individual.
It is interesting to see how quickly he could change from looking a good
person, to looking a bad person. A true test of talent, probably one
he did not know he possessed. Cary usually was distrusting of his
directors, but he and Alfred Hitchcock become life-long friends with the
filming of this movie, and of course, Cary made three more Hitchcock films
in 1946, 1955, and 1959. This was my introduction to the "upicital
mapilary" on the human body. So now we know what that is.
In one scene, Lina cuts her dress away at the top because Johnny was so
fascinated with her upicital mapilary in one of the first scenes. I
liked SUSPICION, and highly recommended it. Of course watching the
films over and over again, makes them quite familiar and that is a pleasant
knowledge to possess about our Mr. Grant.
Click here to read
Susanna's review of "Suspicion"
Click here to read Jenny's Crackpot
Reviews at the Cary Grant Shrine
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