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So as you know, I stopped writing lengthy reviews on this site this year, keeping the blog as more of a film diary of sorts.  Lo and behold,...

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Hitchcock Month - Suspicion

Suspicion (1941)
Starring Cary Grant and Joan Fontaine
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock

When playboy Johnnie Aysgarth (Cary Grant) meets spinsterish Lina (Joan Fontaine) while on a train, he immediately falls for her, and she him.  Their whirlwind romance leads to a quick elopement and they move into a luxurious home which Lina, whose parents are somewhat wealthy, soon realizes may be outside of Johnnie's means.  In fact, seemingly everything is outside of Johnnie's means.  While he may play the debonair charmer, he can't seem to keep a job and spends nearly all his money at the race track.  When Johnnie begins reading the books of the town's local mystery writer, Lina suspects that her husband may be plotting a murder in order to clear his debts -- and she may just be the victim.

Suspicion is a film that works surprisingly well, but, in the end, it never really amounts to much of anything.  At the beginning of the film, Hitchcock takes such care to make it seem as if we're simply watching the ups and downs of a newly married couple.  When the suspicion on Lina's part of her husband finally begins to surface, we start to get genuinely nervous for her because we've come to know both these characters quite well.  In the rather short film (99 minutes), we don't even get the typical Hitchcock "suspense" until nearly an hour has gone by.  That being said, it works in his favor (Hitch knew what he was doing by gradually building the suspense).  Unfortunately, the payoff (which I won't spoil in this post...maybe in the comments, though) is a letdown.  Apparently, Hitch was quite disappointed in the conclusion as well as it was quite a significant change from the novel on which this film is based.

Cary Grant, as always, is quite the talent.  He's able to walk the line from ladies' man to suspected killer with ease.  Joan Fontaine (who was wonderful Hitch's Rebecca, a new favorite of mine) has a shaky start in this one, but once she breaks out of the fuddy-duddy one-note dowdiness that hampers her character at the outset, she is quite a joy to watch.  I really need to delve into her repertoire a little more as I'm not familiar with her work in the slightest.

Overall, Suspicion is a film whose parts are all very good, but they don't quite add up to a satisfying whole.  Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed watching the film, but the denouement left a bad taste in my mouth that sort of tarnished everything that came before it.

The RyMickey Rating:  B-

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