Suspicion (1941)


I’m not the biggest fan of Alfred Hitchcock. There. Now that I’ve spilled my dirty little secret (and turned in my film buff card,) let’s get this show on the road. Of the few Hitchcock movies I’ve seen, “Suspicion” was the most outdated, watered down, and completely exasperating. The protagonist, a bookish woman (Jean Fontaine) facing spinsterhood who marries good-for-nothing playboy Cary Grant, is a completely ineffectual Mary Sue.

Now, I’m not going to cry sexism (this is 1941, after all) but it’s both annoying and eyeroll-inducing when this particular damsel in distress who’s written to be an intelligent, competent woman vacillates between lovesick euphoria and the abyss of despair. The plot revolves around Lina (Fontaine) suspecting Grant of murder.

This suspicion is exacerbated by the inopportune death of Grant’s none-too-bright business partner Beaky (Nigel Bruce) right after he and Grant close a deal. I suppose Beaky in all his ineptitude is supposed to be comic relief, before he ‘meets with an accident,’ so to speak.

Grant’s character, Johnny, is a smug jackass that repeatedly calls Lina ‘Monkeyface’. She loves this ‘term of endearment’, and coyly sidesteps courtship for a while only to fall head over heels in love with him seemingly seconds later. If a guy called me ‘monkeyface,’ I can tell you he’d be smart to keep his hand cupped over his crown jewels because I know where I’d be embedding the pointy part of my shoe. However harsh my rant might sound, the portrayal of the main character isn’t the biggest problem I have with this film.

But that ending, Man! I know the censors changed it from a less wishy-washy conclusion that was included in the original script and the book on which it was based (though to be honest, the book’s ending sounded pretty lame too.) But in fear of offending 1941 audience’s delicate sensitivities, the censors slapped this with the biggest cop-out I’ve seen in a long time.

I sat through the not-so-great motion picture in order to get to the good part, which was watching Lina sack up to face her odious hubby. All that build-up, and… dang! I was disappointed, massively disappointed, to see that they took the utterly boring way out.

Cary Grant and Jean Fontaine did good jobs bringing this rather flat film to life, I suppose, but their competent performances are not enough to save what is, for me, a sub par Hitchcock excursion into so-so suspense. I heard they might be redoing this, and despite my aversion to remakes, I might like to see the results.

I was thinking while watching this movie that if they took the general premise of “Suspicion” (not necessarily a remake per se,) changed the ending and  added a really kick-ass heroine (or at least a heroine with some common sense,) they might have something here. Oh well. Hitchcock can be good, and I will continue to watch his movies in hopes of finding one I really ‘click’ with.


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