Suspicion ★★★

Frustrating, but more interesting than simply calling this "failure" suggests, especially aesthetically. Dave Kehr rightly calls us to "note [Hitchcock's] subtlety in establishing the menace of the Cary Grant character by never allowing him to be seen walking into a shot." The Master of Suspense takes the melodrama formula, and plays with the "be careful what you wish for" clause of finding the perfect man: marrying for love is maybe not as good as marrying for money. Here is the transference of guilt, as the person committing the crimes never once emotionally processes their morality, leaving it for poor Fontaine to continually attempt to rationalize the behavior of a mad man—a decision that rarely works in Hitchcock's films (most notably the psychiatrist of Psycho).

For being the most charming man in Hollywood, Grant sure did play a parade of assholes—His Girl Friday, Notorious, Philadelphia Story—and what makes him great is that strange desire to believe he is decent. His face is sort of an inscrutable; it's like watching a Bresson film at times in that we can read emotions into him—he's the object of the Kuleshov Effect. Speaking of object, is this secretly a movie about the female gaze? Grant here is cast essentially for his to-be-looked-at-ness, to use the Mulvey expression, a plot device that at once initiates and disrupts the narrative.

And of course, that odd modernist painting will always remain a mystery to me, perhaps the most elusive and confusing moment in all of Hitchcock. I expanded on that image a couple years back in this essay on narrative excess.