Sunday, October 18, 2015

Suspicion (1941 film)

Based on the novel Before the Fact by Francis Iles, Suspicion is the story of a woman who falls for a charming playboy as she notices that something about him is off as he is believed to be a killer. Directed by Alfred Hitchcock and screenplay by Samson Raphaelson, Joan Harrison, and Alma Reville, the film is a romantic-psychological thriller that plays into a woman who is the last person that catches the eye of a playboy which only adds to their offbeat yet troubling relationship. Starring Cary Grant, Joan Fontaine, Sir Cedric Hardwicke, Nigel Bruce, Dame May Whitty, Isabel Jeans, Heather Angel, and Leo G. Carroll. Suspicion is a gripping yet riveting film from Alfred Hitchcock.

After meeting and falling for a notorious playboy/gambler, a shy heiress marries the man in hoping to find happiness until certain things in her life including people she knows start to disappear as she suspects that her husband is actually a killer. It’s a film that plays into this woman who has been very reserved in her life as she meets this renowned playboy at a train on her way home as she becomes smitten by him but with a sense of caution. Yet, their subsequent meetings turn into a romance where they elope in secrecy as their marriage becomes troubling due to the amount of gambling debts that Johnnie Aysgarth (Cary Grant) has amassed himself where Lina McLaidlaw (Joan Fontaine) becomes suspicious over the loss of a few objects. The film’s screenplay explore a woman not only becoming suspicious about her husband and what he does but also in some of things he wants to do in his life. Even as his plans to do something for himself which only makes Lina feel more confused and paranoid about what is going on following the death of her father and later a family friend.

Alfred Hitchcock’s direction is very engaging for the way it plays into a simple drama that has air of suspense and intrigue. Notably as he goes for something that is simple in some of his compositions and how he would frame his actors for a scene. While there are a few wide shots in the film which includes images of a seaside cliff, much of the direction is intimate with its usage of close-ups and medium shots where Hitchcock play into the romance as well as Lina’s anguish over Johnnie’s gambling and activities that she doesn’t know much about. The direction would maintain a sense of intrigue where Hitchcock would create some intimate conversations such as a dinner scene with a suspense writer about poison where it is about Lina’s reaction and paranoia. Even as a supporting character dies suspiciously where it plays into what could happen as Hitchcock’s mastery of suspense becomes so engrossing as it plays to a chilling climax of what could really happen to Lina and what Johnnie has been doing all along. Overall, Hitchcock creates an intoxicating yet eerie film about a woman questioning her marriage and the man she had married.

Cinematographer Harry Stradling Sr. does brilliant work with the film’s black-and-white photography where much of it is very simple to play up some of the drama and light-hearted moments but also create some unique images as well as some key lighting schemes to help create some suspense. Editor William Hamilton does amazing work with the editing with some stylish usage of dissolves as well as some rhythmic cut to plays into the suspense. Art director Van Nest Polglase and set decorator Darrell Silvera do excellent work with the design of the home that Johnnie and Lina would live in as well as some of other places they go to including the home of the suspense author.

Costume designer Edward Stevenson does fantastic work with the design of the gowns that Lina would wear in some of the social gatherings as well as the clothes she wears at home. Sound recordist John E. Tribby does terrific work in the sound to help create an air of suspense which heightens some of the drama including some of its very quiet scenes. The film’s music by Franz Waxman is wonderful for its orchestral-based score that plays into the drama with its lush string arrangements along with some eerie pieces for its suspenseful moments.

The film’s phenomenal cast include some notable small roles from Lumsden Hare as Inspector Hodgson, Vernon Downing as Hodgson’s assistant, Gavin Gordon as the dinner guest Dr. Sedbusk who is also the brother of the author Isobel, Reggie Sheffield as Lina’s dance partner at a ball early in the film, Isobel Jeans as a friend of Johnnie early in the film, Auriol Lee as the suspense author Isobel Sedbusk, and Leo G. Carroll as Johnnie’s cousin Captain George Melbeck who would give Johnnie a job which wouldn’t go for very long. Heather Angel is terrific as Johnnie and Lina’s maid Ethel who takes care of their home as she wonders what is wrong with Lina. Sir Cedric Hardwicke and Dame May Whitty are excellent in their respective roles as Lina’s parents General and Mrs. McLaidlaw as a couple who are befuddled by Johnnie as the former is the most suspicious of the two.

Nigel Bruce is brilliant as Gordon Cochrane “Beaky” Thwaite as a friend of Johnnie who tries to assure Lina that everything is alright just as he and Johnnie are planning something that will help them financially. Cary Grant is amazing as Johnnie Aysgarth as a playboy/gambler who falls for the shy Lina as he tries to cope with the changes in his married life while secretly doing things in an attempt to start something new for himself. Finally, there’s Joan Fontaine in a remarkable performance as Lina McLaidlaw as this shy heiress who falls for a man with a notorious reputation yet sees the good in him until certain activities and things that he do arouses some suspicion which would play into her anguished performance as it’s really one of the film’s highlights.

Suspicion is a sensational film from Alfred Hitchcock that features incredible performances from Cary Grant and Joan Fontaine. The film isn’t just one of Hitchcock’s more intriguing suspense-dramas but also a study of identity and marriage which would play into a woman dealing with who she has married. In the end, Suspicion is a marvelous film from Alfred Hitchcock.

Alfred Hitchcock Films: (Number 13) - (The Pleasure Garden) - (The Blackguard) - (The Mountain Eagle) - (The Lodger) - (A Story of the London Fog) - (The Ring) - (Downhill) - (The Farmer’s Wife) - (Easy Virtue) - (Champagne) - (The Manxman) - (Blackmail) - (Juno and the Paycock) - (Murder!) - (The Skin Game) - (Mary) - (Lord Camber’s Ladies) - (Rich and Strange) - (Number Seventeen) - (Waltzes from Vienna) - (The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934 film)) - The 39 Steps - (Secret Agent) - (Sabotage) - (Young and Innocent) - The Lady Vanishes - (Jamaica Inn) - (Rebecca) - (Foreign Correspondent) - (Mr. & Mrs. Smith) - (Saboteur) - (Shadow of a Doubt) - Bon Voyage - Lifeboat - (Spellbound) - (Notorious) - (The Paradine Cage) - Rope - (Under Capricorn) - (Stage Fright) - Strangers on a Train - I Confess - Dial M for Murder - Rear Window - To Catch a Thief - (The Trouble with Harry) - The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956 film) - (The Wrong Man) - Vertigo - North by Northwest - Psycho - The Birds - Marnie - (Torn Curtain) - (Topaz) - (Frenzy) - (Family Plot)

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