Friday, June 7, 2019

Film Friday: Suspicion

Photo via IMDb

"A shy young heiress marries a charming gentleman, and soon begins to suspect he is planning to murder her."

RKO Pictures
Starring Cary Grant and Joan Fontaine
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
1941/1 hour 39 minutes/black and white

The week after I saw Casablanca at the Alameda Theatre, we went to see Alfred Hitchcock's Suspicion. It begins in classic Hitchcock style, on a train, with two strangers meeting. We soon learn more about heiress Lina, played with quivering naivete by Joan Fontaine, and Johnnie, a bounding, handsome cad, played with charm and creepy finesse by Cary Grant. Hitchcock, as usual, is a master of suspense, and the slow build of suspicion lives up to the movie's title. However, from the beginning, I found Johnnie's brand of charm so off-putting that I wanted to yell at Lina to run, yet her consistent defense of him, even as her suspicions about his motives grow, is equally unsympathetic. His name-calling ("monkey face") and many lies are just some of the reasons I sided with Lina's parents about her relationship with Johnnie. However, if I get back to the movie as a whole, it's certainly entertaining and suspenseful, and pulled me in to the storyline. It is, however, one that ultimately failed for me. I won't spoil it, in case you haven't seen it, but some claim that the ending was changed--and very disappointing my friend and I found it. Otherwise, it's a film worth watching.

Bruce and Grant in Suspicion/Photo via IMDb

One of the reasons it's a good film is the great, if underused, supporting cast: Sir Cedric Hardwicke, Dame May Whitty, and Nigel Bruce, among others. It's Bruce's comedic turn as Johnnie's friend that shone for me and made Grant's performance that much better, when the two played off each other. Both Grant and Bruce have wonderful comic timing that enhanced their solid performances. We don't see much of Hardwicke and Whitty, unfortunately. Be sure to check out Whitty in a (better) Hitchcock film, The Lady Vanishes; a favorite Hardwicke performance is his turn as the evil Frollo in The Hunchback of Notre Dame. It felt as if the underuse of these performers and their characters lent the movie an air of the unfinished--one too many loose threads that, tangled with the unsatisfying ending, left me with a mixed feeling about the film. It's a Hitchcock film worthy of viewing, but not a favorite.

Have you seen Suspicion? Do you have a favorite Hitchcock movie?

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