Suspicion

 (1,958)
7.41 h 39 min1941X-RayALL
From the master of suspense, director Alfred Hitchcock, comes this Oscar-winning thriller about a wealthy wallflower who suspects her penniless playboy husband of trying to murder her.
Directors
Alfred Hitchcock
Starring
Cary GrantJoan FontaineCedric Hardwicke
Genres
Suspense
Subtitles
English [CC]
Audio languages
English
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Supporting actors
Nigel BruceDame May WhittyIsabel JeansHeather AngelAuriol LeeReginald SheffieldLeo G. Carroll
Producers
Alfred Hitchcock
Studio
WARNER BROS.
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Prime Video (streaming online video)
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4.6 out of 5 stars

1958 global ratings

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Top reviews from the United States

Matthew D'SouzaReviewed in the United States on June 23, 2019
4.0 out of 5 stars
Suspenseful to the End!
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Plenty of suspenseful scenes in an early Hitchcock romance drama.

Alfred Hitchcock's suspense thriller Suspicion (1941) is equally as compelling as a romance drama, though not as masterfully directed as his later works. Suspicion takes Francis Iles' novel Before the Fact and turns into a gripping piece of suspense filmmaking. The first half unfortunately meanders in establishing a realistic romance, but Fontaine finds your attention and keeps it forever.

Joan Fontaine is ravishing as a new wife, who suspects her husband is a fraud and a murderer. She captivates you with her sad eyes and sullen looks, while Fontaine delivers a fantastic performance. She entrances you with an empathetic display of how betrayed her character feels. Her chemistry with Cary Grant is enjoyable, but you always feels like she's uncomfortable.

Cary Grant is eating up the scenery in an usually villainous role for him. Grant is handsome and charming for a roguish fellow that takes advantage of men and women around him for his own monetary gain. Grant plays up the romance with Fontaine beautifully as he is obscured by shadowy intent. His character is selfish and spiteful, but also friendly and amiable enough that you still like him a little. Suspicion is certainly a complex role for Cary Grant and Hitchcock helps him rise to the challenge.

Alfred Hitchcock's direction is neat, yet unremarkable for the first half of Suspicion. Once our heroes are married, the way Hitchcock's follows Fontaine's face is brilliant and revealing. I love how Hitchcock can tell you everything with a single shot. His reveals of letters, gifts, tracks, and eyes unfold the story for you to appreciate.

I adore Nigel Bruce as the bumbling friend that just gets taken advantage of as much as he leeches off the hospitality of his acquaintances. Bruce's entire career is playing a delightful chum that is simple, yet also likable. Nigel Bruce portrays this character perfectly whether he's in a Sherlock Holmes film as Dr. Watson with Basil Rathbone or here in Suspicion as Beaky.

Lastly, I must mention Franz Waxman's score for Suspicion. It is dreamy and airy with a light atmosphere that stops whenever something dark is supposed to happen. Waxman's style is pleasant and his romance themes are mesmerizing.

In all, Suspicion is safely in the upper middle of Hitchcock's filmography for me. It is not as neatly engrossing, nor as quickly paced as his other masterpieces. I would liken Suspicion to Notorious or Rebecca, but perhaps not as great as those films.
8 people found this helpful
johnfReviewed in the United States on June 20, 2021
4.0 out of 5 stars
Grant and Fontaine are great in a suspenseful film
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There are mild spoilers in this review. Mostly, this is a discussion of the setup in its first quarter. If you don’t want to know anything at all about the film, please don’t read further.

Alfred Hitchcock had been brought to America by producer David O. Selznick and immediately struck gold with “Rebecca”, a huge hit with the public and Best Picture winner in 1940. Hitchcock’s career was immeasurably boosted by the film but Hitchcock, who had his own method of doing things, found the hands-on Selznick incredibly meddlesome from his point of view. Selznick had a long record of major productions from “A Star Is Born” to “Gone With the Wind” and was not the type to back down.

“Suspicion” was Hitchcock’s second picture with Selznick, and people involved with the film said Selznick treated Hitchcock with great politeness and left the director relatively independent (for Selznick), even allowing Hitchcock to produce as well as direct the picture. Yet he still maintained control, and did things like entirely rejecting Hitchcock’s first script.

There are lots of stories about the production. There was tension on the set. Cary Grant took an almost visceral dislike to Joan Fontaine, finding her moody and difficult. Fontaine, just 22 and in only her second major role, felt intimidated by the actors around her and insecure about her own ability. Hitchcock rather liked this and even told Fontaine the bad things the other actors were saying about her. This made her listen only to him for acting advice, and I suspect amping up any tension between Grant and Fontaine worked in favor of the film. For his part, Grant felt Hitchcock lavished attention on Fontaine while ignoring him and swore never to work with him again (though he eventually made “Notorious”, “To Catch a Thief” and “North by Northwest”).

Then there was the screenplay. It was based on the novel, “Before the Fact” by Francis Iles (Anthony Berkeley Cox). The novel is much darker and in it, Johnny is a philanderer with illegitimate children, a forger and a murderer. Hitchcock was quoted later on saying they had planned to film the novel as it was but were prevented by the studio from following through. Film scholars have since uncovered not only no alternate script but also letters from Hitchcock stating that from the beginning it was to be about a woman’s growing suspicion fueled by her own interpretation of unrelated events. Hitchcock was probably saying that he would have liked to film the book as it was, with Johnny a true villain. Both Hitchcock and Selznik resented the fact that films were given much stricter censorship than books.

Still, Cary Grant had risen to become one of Hollywood’s biggest stars by this time and was not under contract to any single studio. Therefore there was pressure from all of them to not damage his image by making him into a murderer. It was also 1941 and movies could only do so much and there were strict conventions on how they could end. The ending seems tacked on, and contrary to what many think, I believe it is quite ambivalent and open to interpretation.

It’s full of Hitchcock touches such as opening with dialogue over a black screen. A train has entered a tunnel and the bookish and proper Lina Mclaidlaw (Joan Fontaine) is just meeting the charming and talkative Johnny Aysgarth (Cary Grant) and basically brushing him off with disinterest. He had seated himself in a First Class compartment with her though he only had a Third Class ticket. He reappears at the local foxhunt where he is doted on by the young women. It seems he is well known in the area, a part of the local set, though he is a playboy and disapproved of by parents. Here he flirts with Lina, tells her she needs a new hair style and tries to kiss her, an advance rejected by the click of a purse clasp. Still, a seed has been sown. On her part, Lina has heard her parents discuss her as a likely old maid, and this seems to open her to an adventure.

In any case, she abandons the bookish look and frumpy hairstyle and for the rest of the film looks like Joan Fontaine, which is to say, absolutely stunning. Johnny crashes the Beauchamp Hunt Ball to see her and a romance is set in motion. We’ve already seen that Johnny is charming, brash and possibly cunning, because he seems to pop into Lina’s life a little too frequently. They elope. There is a montage of an expensive and lavish honeymoon in Paris, the Riviera and Rome after which we find Johnny showing Lina the beautiful Georgian house he has got for them as well as beautifully furnished. (It is a wonderful set, especially the elegant entrance hall with a large Palladian window which throws shadows over everything, shadows which become important later on.

It’s at this point that Lina (and we) learn that Johnny has “borrowed” money to pay for all this and expects to live on Lina’s money. She is surprised, thinking he was rich, but still in love, forgives him, saying affectionately, “You’re a baby”. To her, just someone who hasn’t grown up, knows no responsibilities and is used to having things handed to him. She wants him to work. He sells her father’s wedding gift of Renaissance chairs. His dear friend “Beaky’ (Nigel Bruce) comes to stay for a few days. He actually is rich, and sets Lina straight that Johnny is an inveterate liar and rogue and can’t wait to be entertained by what whopper he’ll come up with to get out of his next jam.

After that the film seesaws back and forth giving us evidence of Johnny’s character flaws and redeeming qualities through Lina’s eyes, with his dark side growing more and more evident as it does. Some of his flaws are serious indeed, and after a while we don’t know whether to believe anything he says. Johnny is no catch by any stretch of the word. He’s gotten along on his good looks and charm and everything to him is dreaming up a new scheme to get money without working for it. Eventually Lina has to wonder if he’s not out to kill her for her money.

Hitchcock does this very well, gradually building tension by revealing more and more of the discrepancies in Johnny’s character. Lina begins to test him with simple questions to which she already knows the answers and he fails the tests. But sometimes he seems to be gravely guilty only to be rendered innocent as when Beaky says he almost died (justifying her suspicion that Johnny is trying to murder him) only to hear him say that Johnny saved him. This happens over and over, creating tension and then relieving it.

The acting is the best part of the film. Both Grant and Fontaine are absolutely excellent. Grant was known now from his romantic comedies but had shown a dark side in “Sylvia Scarlett’, and even in“Topper” and his first film,“This Is the Night” where he’s quite ready to beat people up. It’s interesting to watch him portray this character in both charming and menacing ways often in the sam. Fontaine was good at playing intimidated characters as she showed in “Rebecca” but here she’s in love and suspicious at the same time and intelligent enough to put things together for herself. Niigel Bruce gets a good comic role that requires him to be a bit naive but not buffoonish as the Universal Studios Holmes films often did. The rest of the cast is a splendid group of British actors including Sir Cedric Hardwicke, Dame May Whitty, Leo G. Carroll and Isabel Jeans, but they get very small roles with not much to do. This is one of the weaknesses of the film. Only Auriol Lee stands out as the local mystery writer, full of advice about poisons that do the trick.

It’s a good but not great Hitchcock film. The screenplay seems off in some ways. If it is supposed to be, as stated, a study of an overwrought woman who is suspicious by nature and who fabricates mortal danger out of thin air, then Johnny is much too flawed a character. He’s an embezzler, a gambler, a thief and a liar; she has too many genuine reasons to not trust this man and his many lies. Even if you buy the Hollywood ending as a true resolution, you’re still stuck with a man of poor character and a type of fellow who rarely changes their ways. But there are still many things to enjoy in this film. After all, it’s still Hitchcock.
One person found this helpful
EinsatzReviewed in the United States on March 19, 2017
4.0 out of 5 stars
“A very interesting corpse dropped in the other day.”
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Supposedly an adaptation of the mystery novel Before the Fact by Francis Iles, Suspicion is anything but faithful to its source material. Many liberties were taken to make the character Johnnie (Cary Grant) less loathsome. But to do so meant changing a murder mystery into a mere cautionary tale about the dangers of suspicion, suspecting someone of something that your feverish mind had provided all along. It also betrays a certain level of mistrust in one’s spouse. That she thought him capable of murder. At worse, in this version, Johnnie was just a sneaky opportunist, a reprobate, and a lousy gambler. Somewhere along the way they left out the numerous affairs, an illegitimate son, and the murder(s). Instead of excitement Hitchcock delivered hysteria and suspicion.

Still, it is an interesting movie. But the film was not a box office success at the time of its release in 1942. It’s notable for Joan Fontaine winning a Best Actress Oscar, the only actor to win an Oscar in a Hitchcock film.
10 people found this helpful
mmthraxReviewed in the United States on January 19, 2017
5.0 out of 5 stars
Love the storytelling, don't like the story.
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Spoilers!! I always give Hitchcock good reviews. The way he presents the story is remarkable. I watched this with my 18 year old daughter. I had seen it before. What aggravated me seeing it this time was the story itself. There are so many red flags as to Grant's character being a straight up dirtbag it's not even funny. Of course as a dad I'm telling my daughter not to fall for guys like that. Fontaine's character is just lapping it up. Disgusting. What hit me like a ton of bricks is when I first saw the movie, at the end I thought that maybe Grant's character was not as bad as all that. After all he didn't let her fall out of the car right? This time when we saw the movie, and Grant puts his arm around Fontaine and gives her the silky smooth explanation, my daughter said "Did you see that? He did it again!!" At that point I realized that there was no evidence that he wasn't a scuzzbag at all. He merely didn't dispatch her at that moment. As they drove off I couldn't help but think that will lie in wait for another opportunity. Chilling.
8 people found this helpful
Juan Manuel WillsReviewed in the United States on June 17, 2015
5.0 out of 5 stars
Hitchcock's Marriage Movie
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The second film of Hitchcock during his time in the United States won the Oscar he won for best actress in Joan Fontaine's interpretation shows the story of a marriage between a rich and a shy heiress, Lina, who is conquered by a sympathetic Johnnie, a gambler, "good-for-nothing" character, player, looking for a good fortune.Lina falls in love, he is attentive and friendly, conqueror and phony with her and through a series of lies about his work, begins to suspect that besides all, Johnny is a potential murderer who is developing a plan to kill he. A generated suspense as only Hitchcock knows is develop by a series of misunderstandings helping to that suspicion.

Cary Grant,a great actor who has acted in many of Hitchcocks films, (Hitchcock said in public interview that Grant due to his roles could not play a role of murderer) complements greatly the role of Fontaine (sister Olivia Havilland, both Oscar winners).

The scenery (in this case even quite English) and photograph of the environments where the couple lives, Jane's parents, hunting on horseback, her drive along the cliffs ... perfect .are showing the necessary details when required and indicating the perfection of the director not leave any out. With the usual dose of humor and entertaining and funny dialogue.

A good thriller that tells the story of a marriage in which two of the traditional issues that are based on their plots are incorporated: money, murder and addiction, as suggested by Jeanine Basinger in his excellent course on this genre.
9 people found this helpful
DNReviewed in the United States on June 7, 2019
2.0 out of 5 stars
Quality is fine
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There aren't too many characters as unpleasant as the one Grant plays here. Sorry, but it just makes for an unpleasant movie experience. Hitchcock tried to walk a fine line here, but stepped on a crack and broke his mother's back.
Another story about a beautiful woman who falls for a loser with nothing to offer. Isn't there enough of that in the world? They had to make a movie about it? I want my money back.
2 people found this helpful
E. Hunter HaleReviewed in the United States on October 30, 2016
4.0 out of 5 stars
Blu-ray Upgrade Nice!
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In the process of upgrading my DVD titles of Alfred Hitchcock films to the Blu-ray format. The new disc contains a much nicer transfer with the same Extras that were on the DVD release. The 4 out 5 stars represents the film itself (which is weakened slightly my not keeping Grant as the villain as Hitch and Grant wanted it do). The Blu-ray transfer is a nice upgrade from the DVD.
12 people found this helpful
fedfanReviewed in the United States on July 12, 2017
5.0 out of 5 stars
Classic Hitchcock
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I've seen this many times, but finally read the book that it's based on. Although the Cary Grant character is quite different than the book (Grant wanted his role to be more like the book but the studio nixed the idea), it was a pleasure to watch it again after reading "Before the Fact." Joan Fontaine is great, although I suspect she won the Oscar for this because she was robbed of one for her role in Rebecca. Not Hitchcock's best, but still great.
4 people found this helpful
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