Film: Suspicion

Suspicion is a 1941 thriller starring Cary Grant and Joan Fontaine, directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Fontaine plays Lina, an upper-class Englishwoman who seems bound for a life of spinsterhood until she meets rakish playboy Johnny Aysgarth (Grant). They marry after a whirlwind courtship, but Lina soon finds out that Johnny is broke, is a habitual gambler, is an embezzler—and may be a murderer.

Suspicion was a critical and commercial success. It received three Academy Award nominations, losing Best Picture to How Green Was My Valley but winning Best Actress for Joan Fontaine—the only Oscar ever given for an acting performance in an Alfred Hitchcock film. Among the actresses Fontaine defeated for her Oscar was her sister, Olivia de Havilland, who had received a nomination for Hold Back the Dawn. (De Havilland would later go on to win Best Actress twice).

No connection to the German novel of the same name.

Remade in 1988 as a UK/US Made-for-TV Movie (for ITV and PBS), with Lina played by Jane Curtin (of all people) and Anthony Andrews as Johnny.


Tropes:

  • The Casanova: When Johnny shows up at a ball, women literally flock to him. Later Lina asks him if he's had a lot of girlfriends, and he admits that he has and said that one time when he couldn't sleep he tried counting them like sheep.
  • California Doubling: That coast and the cliffs sure do look a lot like southern California.
  • Creator Cameo: As with all of Hitchcock's films. In this one he can be seen putting a letter in a mailbox as Fontaine leaves a book store.
  • The Ditz: Johnny's friend Beaky is very amiable but not terribly bright, and does not at all understand Johnny's plan for a seaside real estate development.
  • Driving a Desk: Particularly noticeable in a few scenes where characters are driving along the coast.
  • The Film of the Book: Before the Fact by Francis Iles.
  • Fourth Date Marriage: A first date marriage, where Johnny whisks Lina away to get married after they dance at a ball.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar
    • Early in the film, Lina rebuffs Johnny's advances—and the camera cuts to a closeup of her purse snapping shut.
    • Johnny's friend Beaky tells a story of picking up some girl in Paris that sounds like it's going to end with discovering she was a prostitute, but Johnny cuts him off.
  • Gold Digger: Johnny may or may not be a murderer but he seems perfectly happy to live a life of leisure on Lina's money. The movie leaves it to us to decide if he was angling for her from their first "accidental" meeting on the train.
  • Happy Ending: A somewhat controversial one, and implied rather than demonstrated (we don't see Johnny reform, only talk like a changed man). In the source novel, Lina is right about Johnny. He is a criminal, and he is going to poison her with the glass of milk (the novel ends with Lina knowing this and drinking the milk anyway). The book ends with Johnny apparently getting away with it. One alternate ending considered for the film was for Lina to drink the milk, but not before sending off a letter that exposed Johnny's crimes. The final ending used for the film has Lina being wrong about Johnny, with him admitting that he was going to use that poison on himself rather than go to prison for embezzlement. They elect to face the future together. Hitchcock later claimed that RKO demanded the Happy Ending because they were nervous about Cary Grant playing a villain. Other sources claim that studio memos show Hitchcock was on board from the start with making a movie about a woman's imagination rather than the dark ending of the book.
  • Idiot Ball: Beaky has a violent and possibly fatal reaction when he drinks brandy, but that doesn't stop him from slurping it down anyway.
  • Male Gaze: When Johnny first meets Lina, on the train, he checks out her legs, then looks up to see that she caught him and is looking right at him.
  • Old Maid: Lina overhears her parents speculating that she will become this. This is what drives her to pursue Johnny after initially rebuffing him.
  • Pretty in Mink: Lina wears a fur hat and wrap in one scene, and Johnny later gives her a mink coat.
  • Travel Montage: Some still pictures along with stickers on luggage to indicate Johnny and Lina's honeymoon.