Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
A shy young English woman marries a charming gentleman, then begins to suspect him of trying to kill her.
Winner Best OSCAR Actress - Joan Fontaine
OSCAR Nominee for Best Musical Score
ďOh, I beg your pardon, was that your leg? I had no idea we were going into a tunnel. I thought the compartment was empty. So sorry, I hope I didnít hurt you.Ē And with that, one of the most sexual first lines in movies, we are introduced to Cary Grant making his first appearance in an Alfred Hitchcock movie. Actually, we donít see him at this time as the above lines were uttered over a black screen just after a trainís whistle is heard.
Suspicion (1941) could be the title for just about every Hitchcock movie, but it is suitable here. Paranoia might be a better title. Joan Fontaine plays Lina McLaidlaw, a shy girl from an upper-class family. Cary Grant is Johnny Aysgarth, a broke playboy. For some reason the two fall for each other.
After their first meeting on the train, with Johnny stumbling into Linaís compartment and then asking her if she could pay the extra money for his first class ticket, we wonder exactly what Lina sees in this man. But it is Cary Grant and Grant posses great charm, so we and Lina look forward to seeing him again.
Lina doesnít have to wait long as some friends, including Johnny, come over to her parentís estate to socialize a bit before church. Her friends go on to church, while she stays and spends some quality time with Johnny on a walk. The walk appears to turn violent as there is dramatic music, screaming and from a distance it looks like a struggle between Lina and Johnny. But by the time the camera gets to the scene of the supposed crime, we find out that Johnny was only trying to fix Linaís hair. The pattern has been set by Hitchcock though -- Johnny is going to do something bad to Lina sometime during the movie.
Johnny and Lina quickly fall in love and think about marriage. Linaís parents, played by Sir Cedric Hardwicke and Dame May Whitty, are happy that their daughter is finally going to be married. They just wish it was to someone other than the playboy Johnny. The two elope and go on a wedding trip. A trip that Johnny pays for by borrowing money. Johnny happens to be very good at getting money, he just canít keep it.
Lina soon finds out that Johnny isnít completely the Prince Charming she expected. Heís a deadbeat, but fun to be around. His friend, Beaky, seems to be a perfect sidekick for Johnny and the two provide Lina some amusement.
Suspicions are raised in Lina when she realizes that Johnny has lied about losing his job. Instead of working he wants to develop land for a seaside resort with Beaky as his partner. From here, Linaís imagination runs wild.
She dreams that Johnny pushes Beaky off the cliff where their seaside resort is supposed to be built. This image is similar to ones found in Rebecca (1940), also featuring Joan Fontaine. But things go farther once Johnny begins reading some detective stories and constantly wonders about untraceable poisons.
Lina believes that when Beaky and Johnny have a brandy drinking contest and Beaky collapses, that Johnny has poisoned his friends drink. But Johnny says this is nothing and pretty soon Beaky is fine. With Beaky seeming relatively safe, Lina begins to believe that Johnny is going to kill her.
In fact, if Hitchcock had gotten what he wanted, Lina would have been killed by Johnny. In the movie, Johnny brings Lina a glass of milk, which Lina believes is poisoned. Hitchcock makes sure the audience knows the milk is important as he shot the scene with Cary Grant bringing the glass of milk up a flight of stairs. Inside the milk he placed a light so that it looks brighter than everything else on screen. Lina drinks the milk and doesnít die in the movie. Hitchcock had wanted Lina to drink the milk and die, but before dying she would ask Johnny if he could mail a letter to her mother that she had written. Gladly, Johnny agrees and the final scene would have been of Johnny strolling to the mail box, whistling, and mailing the letter. Of course the letter would have included Linaís suspicions about the glass of milk and Johnny would not have gotten away with the crime.
Suspicion does not end at the mailbox, but rather on the seaside cliffs. In a similar scene to that of To Catch a Thief (1955), where Grace Kelly speeds along the seaside, just narrowly making turns that would otherwise land her and Cary Grant in the ocean, this movie ends with a similar climax. Except Cary Grant is the one doing the driving and Lina really believes that he is getting close to the edge of the cliff so he can kill her. Eventually, she gets out of the car and then gives an Oscar winning speech. Joan Fontaine won the Academy Award for Best Actress because of this final speech many believe.
Although the movie didnít end exactly as Hitchcock had wished it had, the current ending allowed Joan Fontaine to win an Oscar. Not a bad tradeoff for her. And it is not a bad movie to watch if you are a fan of Cary Grant or someone who tends to let their imagination run wild.