Sunday, January 11, 2009

Suspicion (1941)

Suspicion is a rather alarming title for a rather light flick from the master of suspense. I'm guessing it was conjured by RKO Pictures' marketeers to capitalize on Hitchcock's record of thrillers. A fast talking Cary Grant, mesmerizes Joan Fontaine and despite protests from her father, she goes on to marry Cary. Cary plays Johnnie Aysgarth as a flippant trickster who repeatedly causes Tina McLaidlaw (Joan Fontaine) to doubt his intentions. Then he reels her back in with an act that indicates that he has changed. Tina vacillates between trust and distrust till she finally dispels her suspicion.

The book from which the screenplay was adapted, was apparently much darker and ends with the Johnnie character killing Tina. The DVD also had an alternate ending fashioned by Hitchcock that showed this. The movie would have been much better had it ended that way. This is yet another case of the studio meddling with the director's true intentions. Despite being unaware of this while watching the movie, I never thought Cary Grant looked menacing enough. He plays Johnnie with much levity and lacks the smarminess that can convince us of his darker intentions. Coming out only a year after Rebecca, Joan Fontaine is asked to play a mature woman compared to the subservient nameless girl and does well. IMDB says that this was hers was the only Oscar winning performance that Hitchcock directed.


gauri said...

Interesting. Isn't is the one based on 'Before the Fact'? (I could be wrong...after a while it's easy to muddle Hitchcocks).

One would think the director might have the last word. Quite a lame reason to change the ending too. I wonder if Bogart or Sinatra might have done the trick.


catcharun said...

Yup..that's the one. You remember hitchcocks by blogging about them.

RKO had the rights to the story and Bogart was stuck at Warner. Not sure about Sinatra though, dont know if he started acting that early

gauri said...

He had just about started then. Mentioned him as I remember him doing an alright job as John Baron in Suddenly, though I don't remember much of the movie. Turns out that was a good 13 years later, though.


gauri said...

catch (is that what you go by?),

Saw thi one again over the weekend. I thought it was really nicely done! Title did justice too - considering it's just suspicion, not suspense/mystery. Grant is not supposed to look that menacing; we're not supposed to be convinced of his dark intentions - that's why the vacillation between trust & suspicion.

Liked the open ending too - better than what could have been. Because he could still have killed her, we don't know :) He always gains trust before he kills (if he does at all)...trying to "save a life". So it's been suspicion all the way till the end.

If you watched this a while ago, you really should watch it again! I saw it 2 days ago and I saw so much more from when I saw it before.

Just had to say it. You may want to delete this comment; may have too many spoilers. And it's probably longer than the post :)


PS: It's Lina McLaidlaw.

catcharun said...

hmm..i liked the alternate ending though. it actually gave me some 'relief' that the rather innocent johnnie managed to kill her. the open ending was not open enough for me. i could not interpret it to mean he still could kill her. it made all that innocence look real..

as hitchcock himself famously put it and i paraphrase, the difference is between a sudden explosion and making the audience aware of the bomb and making them wait on the edge guessing...i am guessing that is where the suspicion gets separated from suspense but i'd like to get some indication even if it is just suspicion.. i just didnt vacillate between trust and distrust at all. ah well... we could argue this to death and still not agree.

as for tina, i should start relying less on my memory and more on imdb :)

gauri said...

//we could argue this to death and
still not agree.//

Absolutely. But since I have a couple minutes before I die:

Vaciallte btn trust/suspicion - I was talking about Lina not you :P

It's not like one's left at the edge of the seat biting nails. It's not a suspense movie. It's just a character drama you watch and smile about (yes I know you can't do tat either).

Indication - L suspects he'll kill Beaky (the friend), he almost does (he was out of the car), but then "saves his life". Before he kills (?)him in Paris. Watches in a previous episode when the guy gags over wine - could be construed either way.

In the same exact manner, he brings L that glass of milk - we don't know if he poisoned it; we don't know whether touched it.

He drives her to her mom's, speeds up, we don't know if he tried to push her out of the car, or in fact, as he claims save her. Gains trust, is seen driving again.

Stood her up time and again, lied, and lied again to cover up, but always putting the previous lie in perspective. Chairs, London, Company, what have you.

The bomb analogy is not suspense Vs suspicion - it's probably shock/surprise vs. suspense. Suspicion, you'd just have this bug in your head that there is a bomb somewhere, you don't know where, you don't know that it's even there. It just plays on your psyche and drive you nuts.

And this is '41, unlike now, when you can tell whodunit within the first 30 mins.

Ok, done arguing. Died :D Now delete!


catcharun said...

i demand that hitchcock rise out of his grave and resolve this..

and you misconstrued my bomb explanation..the example was to show that when the viewer knows something even if it is a little, it makes it better..i wasnt confusing surprise with suspicion or with suspense..( i hate s words now)..just saying that the bug in your head never entered mine.

> could be construed either way.
i just construe it the either way and can't come around to accepting that the grant character was capable of murder.. again i didnt vacillate between trust and mistrust..i don't think i was ever brought to that point and i blame the way the grant character just doesnt fit in..there was nothing to really show he could push himself to the limit

gauri said...


Fair enough.

On a completely different note:


catcharun said...

do you save up on xkcd and wait for a situation to develop...:)

so we agree to disagree then. i'll go and spend some time on my next post :)