keithwysocki on Jan 2nd 2018 at 8:06:57 AM
Last Edited By:
Arivne on Feb 2nd 2018 at 6:26:52 AM
Page Type: trope
They seem like a happy couple with the perfect marriage, but the wife or the audience begins to suspect that the (usually older) husband is up to no good. Is the husband harboring a dark secret? Is he trying to kill her?
This trope was used a lot in the 1940s when the men were off at war and the "women's picture" was in its heyday. While it started as a noir/thriller trope, variations can be seen in horror and other genres.
Comes in two varieties:
- Wife Was Right. The husband was out to get her (for her money, so he could marry another woman, etc.) (Examples: Gaslight, Notorious, The Stranger, Dial M For Murder, What Lies Beneath).
- Wife Was Wrong. The husband isn't trying to hurt the wife and there is an explanation for his strange, seemingly menacing behavior. In this scenario, the wife is often a Hysterical Woman. (Examples: Rebecca, Suspicion - a controversial one since some drafts of the script have Cary Grant actually being a villain).
- Notorious: Alicia almost finds out too late that Sebastian and his mother are poisoning her. Should be more careful if you marry a Nazi fugitive.
- Rebecca: Mrs. DeWinter suspects that Maxim doesn't love her and wishes she were more like Rebecca. Turns out he is harboring a secret, but it's actually that he hated Rebecca and is worried he will get blamed for her murder.
- The Stranger: Mary knows Rankin/Kindler killed someone but she is slow to believe that he could devise the idea of genocide. As it turns out he will stop at nothing to cover up his past and tries multiple times to kill her.
- Suspicion: Lina suspects Johnny may have killed Beaky and is poisoning her, but he claims he was actually planning on poisoning himself.
- What Lies Beneath: Turns out Claire was right to suspect Norman was up to no good. He killed a girl he had an affair with and tries to kill Claire when she finds out.
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