Friday, November 16, 2007
Suspicion; drama/ thriller, USA, 1941; D: Alfred Hitchcock, S: Joan Fontaine, Cary Grant, Cedric Hardwicke, Nigel Bruce, Dame May Whitty, Isabel Jeans, Heather Angel
In a train, the mysterious Johnnie meets Lina McLaidlaw, the daughter of a rich man, and borrows some money from her to buy himself a ticket. On a meadow, he starts flirting with her, but then vanishes without a trace. Weeks pass by and the timid Lina becomes depressed, but then she meets him again on a party and runs away with him in a car. The two of them quickly marry, despite the protest of her parents, yet Johnnie then starts to buy expensive stuff and pay off his debts with her money because he doesn't have any. Johnnie's friend Beaky tells Lina that her husband plans to invest a lot of money into a hotel. Some time later, Beaky is found dead, apparently because he drank too much Brandy. Lina starts suspecting Johnnie wants to kill her, until he saves her from a cliff.
"Suspicion" is one of those films that show how a bad ending can wreck the whole story. Alfred Hitchcock quickly gained ground in the US and once again made a film with the talented actress Joan Fontaine with the drama "Suspicion" whose thriller elements turn out rather confusing. The exposition is almost idyllic because the master of suspense shows his romantic side: the timid and secluded Lina rejects Johnnie's attempts of courtship, but when he leaves she regrets that decision and becomes anemic and sick - but when he sends her a letter she once again lives up. In one of the many wonderful scenes, Johnnie begs the painting of Lina's father for a permission to marry her, while Lina's revery that she sees her husband on a photo coming to a cliff and throwing his friend down is impressive and eerie, thus Fontaine rightfully won an Oscar as best actress - sadly, the only time an actor won that award in a Hitchcock picture. The anxious mood of Lina's marriage with the suspicious Johnny is build perfectly, especially since his threat is always presented with a dose of ambiguity, leaving many of his unusual motivations to the imagination of the viewers, as it should be, but once the naive happy ending hits the screen, ignoring a lot of plot holes about why Johnnie asked for poison and forcefully extinguishing all the thriller elements that were placed before it, the film looses a lot of it's credibility. Sadly, the audience couldn't accept Cary Grant as the bad guy, so the original, better ending that logically culminated with crime, was abandoned for the one present in the story, reducing it's quality. That way nothing happens in the story and the thriller elements end up rather rudimentary - it would be as if "Jurassic Park" was made without the Dinosaurs.