Suspicion (1941)

Suspicion (1941) movie poster

director Alfred Hitchcock
viewed: 01/17/2015 at the Castro Theatre, SF, CA

I took the kids down to the Castro Theatre to watch Alfred Hitchcock’s Suspicion, which was playing as part of the Noir City Festival.  The kids and I have watched a fair amount of Hitchcock films and have also been watching his Alfred Hitchcock Presents television show from the 1950’s-1960’s, but we really hadn’t delved into film noir at all, not that Suspicion is truly a noir film or not.  But we’d also recently watched Cary Grant in His Girl Friday (1940), so the Cary Grant angle was also a pull.

I hadn’t seen Suspicion since probably the 1980’s or early 1990’s, so my memory was vague of it.

In it Grant plays Johnnie Aysgarth, a bon vivant, inveterate gambler, and confidence man who seduces the spinsterish Lina (Joan Fontaine, who won an Oscar for Best Actress for the role) into marriage.  Only people start dying around them and Aysgarth is simply allergic to work but not embezzlement, so he starts to arouse Lina’s Suspicion!

Apparently three different endings were shot for the film, including one where Johnnie runs off to join the RAF and fight the good fight in WWII.  Luckily such propaganda failed to make the final cut.  But the more Hitchcockian ending, the one where Lina dies and leaves a note of Suspicion fingering her widower husband also failed to make the final cut.  Instead, we’ve got an ending where all the Suspicion turns out to be in Lina’s mind and that Johnnie is really a bad apple trying to make good.

There are aspects to this ending that seem like they could have worked better if the whole film had been committed to that narrative from the get-go.  But really the film feels like it was really leading up to the Hitchcockian ending that was not used and so the ending where all the Suspicion is in the mind of the hysterical woman just seems weirdly forced and inapt.

As introduced by Film Noir Foundation’s Treasurer Alan Rode, it’s suggested that fans and critics have grown to like the ending that we’ve had to live with all these years.  Me, I don’t know about that.  But I’ll take it in consideration.

The kids enjoyed it pretty well.

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