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Film / Suspicion

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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 Johnnie Aysgarth (Grant). They marry after a whirlwind courtship, but Lina soon finds out that Johnny is broke, a habitual gambler, 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.


  • Ambiguous Ending: In the end, Johnnie tells Lina that he was intending to commit suicide (rather than to kill her), and that was in Liverpool at the time of Beaky's death (rather than in Paris with Beaky). Lina believes him and makes up with him, but there is no evidence that Johnnie told the truth and, since he is a pathological liar, he could perfectly make it up.
  • The Casanova: When Johnnie 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.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Beaky's violent reaction when he drinks brandy: it is showed the first time he comes to Johnnie and Lina's house. He dies from it in Paris.
  • Con Man: Johnnie's way of life: borrowing money that he cannot pay back.
  • 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.
  • Dangerous Clifftop Road: The drive along a dangerous cliff-top road is the setting for the climax. Lina has suspected her husband Johnnie of planning to kill her, but it is when he saves her from tumbling out of the car on a twisty road that the truth becomes apparent.
  • The Ditz: Johnnie'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.
  • Elopement: Lina's parents do not want her to marry Johnnie, so she marries secretly with him.
  • The Film of the Book: Before the Fact by Francis Iles.
  • Fourth-Date Marriage: A first date marriage, where Johnnie whisks Lina away to get married after they dance at a ball.
  • Fourth Wall Psych: In the train scene, there's suddenly a shot where Johnnie looks directly to the camera and starts talking, but it turns out to be a shot from Lina's POV.
  • Genre Savvy: Johnnie reads a lot of detective novels, and Lina suspects that he wants to know what worked in them in order to commit murders.
  • Gold Digger: Johnnie 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 Johnnie reform, only talk like a changed man). In the source novel, Lina is right about Johnnie. 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 Johnnie 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 Johnnie's crimes. The final ending used for the film has Lina being wrong about Johnnie, 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.
  • Ladykiller in Love: When Lina asks Johnnie if he's had a lot of girlfriends, he admits that he has, but he tells her that this time it is different because he is in love for the first time. Whether this is true or not is left to the viewer's interpretation.
  • Male Gaze: When Johnnie 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.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Johnnie is certainly manipulative, but the central conflict of the story is whether Lina is right to suspect that he's a bastard too.
  • The Nicknamer: Johnnie, who affectionately dubs Lina "Monkey Face", and exclusively calls his buddy Gordon Thwaite "Beaky".
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Isobel Sedbusk, the writer of detective novels, is an expy of Agatha Christie.
  • Old Maid: Lina overhears her parents speculating that she will become this. This is what drives her to pursue Johnny after initially rebuffing him.
  • Perfectly Cromulent Word: Johnnie tells Lina that her "ucipital mapilary is quite beautiful". That's a term that he (or, actually, co-writer Samson Raphaelson) made up for what's actually called the "suprasternal notch".
  • Pretty in Mink: Lina wears a fur hat and wrap in one scene, and Johnnie later gives her a mink coat.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: Johnnie's irresponsibility, recklessness, lack of remorse, manipulative skills, and immature priorities suggest he is a psychopath or something like that. When she starts to realize what he's like, Lina spins it as best she can..."You're a baby!" If so, the implied happy ending in the movie is not likely to turn out so happy.
  • Silly Will: Lina's father bequeaths to her and Johnnie only a portrait of himself that Johnnie obviously does not want or need.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Beaky has a violent and possibly fatal reaction when he drinks brandy, but that doesn't stop him from slurping it down anyway.
  • Travel Montage: Some still pictures along with stickers on luggage to indicate Johnnie and Lina's honeymoon.