Watched Aug 08, 2012
Mitchell Beaupre’s review:
Riding high on the massive success of Rebecca a year prior, Alfred Hitchcock chose Suspicion to be his next film, an adaption of the novel "Before the Fact" by Anthony Berkeley. Written for the screen by the team of Samson Raphaelson, Joan Harrison and Alma Reville, Suspicion is a peculiar little mystery that gets deep into the mind of a woman whose distrust towards her husband grows stronger and more complicated as time goes on.
Casting his Rebecca leading lady Joan Fontaine in the main role of Lina McLaidlaw, she netted herself a well-deserved Best Leading Actress Academy Award for her performance as the shy young woman who falls for the charming and handsome playboy Johnnie Aysgarth. Cary Grant plays Aysgarth and the film starts off almost in the same vein as a traditional Grant screwball comedy, with him and Fontaine flirting wonderfully until they marry early on. It's when they are married that things start to seem odd for Lina.
She realizes that Johnnie doesn't have a job, and he informs her that he never has had one. He makes his way on scams and gambles, using his charm and good looks to get by the only way he's ever known how. A rift begins to grow between the married couple, made more suspicious to Lina in slower ways, such as her husband's obsession with murder novels or the sudden attack his friend Beaky (Nigel Bruce) suffers after drinking some brandy at their home. This seed of deception is planted within her mind that sets her somewhat against her husband and it grows and grows, as Hitchcock slowly evolves the tone into something much more sinister and ominous.
The casting of Grant in this role is a genius move, as any audience member then or even today will automatically associate the actor with the kind of winning, jovial cads he is known for and thus the dark turn that Lina's perception takes towards him is even more stunning. It's as much of a strain for the audience to believe in him as a killer as it is for Lina herself, as she first sees Johnnie the way that we all see Grant and no one wants Cary Grant to be a sadistic murderer. He's a deceptive force, as Grant has to walk a fine line of never allowing his hat to tip too far in one direction, and I think it's easily his best performance that I've seen from him.
Grant is at his peak, but the film undoubtedly belongs to Fontaine and without her stunning work in the lead, Suspicion could have really fallen apart. The same as he did with Rebecca, Hitchcock takes great effort here to put his audience as thoroughly into Fontaine's perspective as possible and once again the two succeed together. You really see the world the way that she does, and every moment of fear or relief she has in regards to her husband is felt by the audience as well. Suspicion throws you through a gambit of emotions from start to finish, a skillful immersion into the suspicious mind of a woman and another tremendous picture from the great Alfred Hitchcock.