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Variety (1941) - Film Reviews: Suspicion


  • book review: Film Reviews: Suspicion
  • author(s): Walt
  • journal: Variety (24/Sep/1941)
  • issue: volume 144, issue 3, page 8
  • journal ISSN: 0042-2738
  • publisher: Penske Business Media
  • keywords: Suspicion (1941)




Hollywood, Sept. 18.

RKO production and release. Stars Cary Grant, Joan Fontaine; features Sir Cedric Hardwicke, Nigel Bruce, Dame May Whitty. Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Screenplay by Samson Raphaelson, Joan Harrison and Alma Reville, from novel by Francis Iles; camera, Harry Stradling; special effects, Vernon L. Walker; editor, William Hamilton; Ass't director, Dewey Starkey. Tradeshown in L. A. Sept. 17, '41. Running time, 102 MINS.

Alfred Hitchcock's trademarked cinematic development of suspenseful drama, through mental emotions of the story principals, is vividly displayed in 'Suspicion,' a class production provided with excellence in direction, acting and mounting. Picture is due for critical attention and strong women patronage in the key runs, to follow through for profitable biz in the subsequent bookings with the adult trade.

Joan Fontaine equals her highly-rating performance in 'Rebecca' as the pivotal factor in the tale, successfully transposing to the screen her innermost emotions and fears over the wastrel and apparently-murderous antics of her husband. Cary Grant, although gaining no sympathy in his role of the latter, turns in a sparkling characterization as the bounder who continually discounts financial responsibilities and finally gets jammed over thefts from his employer. Nigel Bruce is outstanding in support, with Sir Cedric Hardwicke, Dame May Whitty and Heather Angel capably handling respective cast assignments.

In switching tragic ending of Francis lies' novel in favor of a happy finale, Hitchcock and his scripters devised a most inept and inconclusive windup that fails to measure up to the dramatic intensity of preceding footage, and this doesn't reach the climax expected. In this respect, picture structure is deficient, and it is obvious that the writers endeavored to toss in the happy ending in a few hundred feet and let it go at that.

Unfolded in the leisurely pace that is characteristic of British cinematic story-telling technique, Hitchcock deftly displays the effect of occurrences on the inner emotions of the wife. Protected girl of an English country manor, Miss Fontaine falls in love and elopes with Grant, an impecunious and happy-go-lucky individual, who figured her family would amply provide for both of them. Deeply in love, she overlooks his monetary irresponsibilities until discovery that he has stolen a large sum from an estate, and prosecution and exposure looms. Burden of events finally develops mental attitude that her husband would even commit murder to secure funds for repayment, and this suspicion is heightened when Grant's friend, Bruce, dies during visit to Paris— with the wife believing the husband responsible. Finally at the breaking" point of nervous tension, she believes Grant would even stoop to poisoning her to secure insurance to repay his thefts. Finish, with satisfactory explanations and happy reconciliation. replaces the tragic ending of the book.

Under Hitchcock's guidance, picture develops plenty of suspense and appeal to the women sector in displaying a wife's development of mental hysteria through burden of real or imagined criminal tendencies. Production is excellently mounted throughout, with English settings and Harry Stradling's photography of top grade.