Suspicion is undoubtedly one of the most aggravating emotional experiences one can feel. It infects you like a disease and can find a way to make you completely question yourself and just about everyone you’ve ever loved. That’s what’s at the heart of Hitchcock’s 1941 film, which takes the question of “How well do you know your spouse?” and puts a deadly spin on it.
Cary Grant is charming as the (possibly?) homicidal spouse, Johnnie. He says all the right things and has all the right moves, but does he have Lina’s best intentions at heart? Or is he just another man who’s after her father’s fortune? What’s important to understand is that this idea has been done before. It’s not an offering of anything new and it doesn’t ever really pretend to be. It’s not even a story that you’ll stop hearing any time soon (Will Smith will produce and star in a remake due out next year) but instances of trite and cliched stories, what can you do? You can make them the best that you possibly can, which is what Hitchcock does with this film.
Perhaps the most memorable part of the film (and I am turning my film geek on for this) is the cinematography. Having had to shoot in black and white before, I know how difficult it can be, but the shot of Johnnie bringing the glass of milk to his newly wed wife in bed? It’s absolutely stunning for any movie. The contrast between black and white is simultaneously beautiful and horrifying.
But back to the story. Honestly, the most disheartening aspect of the movie is its ending. The pacing, the establishment of character, and the tension are built up beautifully up until the end where, no doubt, the motion picture association of America felt we “needed a win”. The ending is basically the very definition of a cop out. it defies all of the character traits that had been nuanced and even outright indicated over the course of the movie.
I can’t lie and say that I’m excited for Will Smith’s take on a classic. I haven’t valued his opinion in anything else before and it’s not likely that I’ll start now. However, it is my hope that this movie may take its ending more seriously. God knows studio execs are still tampering with movies to make them more “palatable” but this movie has already been desecrated enough with its ending, either don’t let Will SMith do it or shoot the original ending!
Suspicion remains one of my favorite Hitchcock movies, despite its flaws. It’s beautiful and engaging as a thriller. Cary Grant is charming as always and Joan Fontaine is a beautiful disaster waiting to happen all through out the movie. In the end, the fact that the movie doesn’t really pay out can’t be ignored, but until then, it’s a fun and wild ride.