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Film Review: “Suspicion” (1941) ★★★★★


Can you imagine Cary Grant as a villain… or perhaps the one who plots the murder of his wife? Nevertheless, in Alfred Hitchcock’s movie anything is possible. Nina (Joan Fontaine) is from a wealthy family. Johnnie (Cary Grant) has no penny in his pocket. However, the two from different level and ranks in society fall for each other, and soon after celebrate their wedding across Europe. The dreamy life of Nina ends very soon when she finds out that her husband has debt, and that her life insurance can actually cover it. If that fact did not bother her much before, it does after the sudden death of Johnnie’s friend.  It makes her reconsider her thoughts and put herself in a cat-and-mouse game with her suspicious mind that makes her believe she most likely is next on his list….

When the movie begins, we quickly find out about Johnnie’s bold personality, when he asks for an extra shilling from Nina, when they just met so he can sit in the first-class compartment. It’s also hard to say what made Nina fall for Johnnie (thanks to Joan Fontaine’s incomparable performance). Is it because of his Mr. Charming look, or simply because he was in the right place and time to prove her parents that she won’t forever remain a spinster. Anyhow, Johnnie and Nina tie the knot very quickly, where Hitchcock gets a plenty of time to develop the story the way he wanted. But Nina’s happiness does not last long, as the strange behavior, constant gambling, and her husband’s enormous amount of debt raises suspicion in her mind that eventually compels her to distance herself from the marriage and concentrate on her own safety.

The way the screenplay is written, it’s impossible to predict what will happen next while the suspense created around this keeps growing and growing. The viewer starts feeling that he is about to solve the mystery before the actual solution provided by Hitchcock, but the next scene proves you wrong. Cary Grant’s character, who seems nice and caring does not help us either, making the viewer dislike him more and more when Johnnie starts reading countless detective novels to find one perfect way to commit a crime and get away with it.

Joan Fontaine, who plays Nina, if I may say, is the main engine of the movie, in spite of having such a strong leading actor like Cary Grant. Seeing her outstanding performance, it is no wonder why the Academy gave her an Oscar for best actress that year. After all, using the countless facial expressions in every scene proves once again how versatile and great actress Joan Fontaine was. This is why Alfred Hitchcock casts Fontaine once again after the success of REBECCA, where she shared the same screen with Lawrence Olivier, who in spite of his anger and impossible behavior (he wanted Vivien Leigh, then his girlfriend to play Rebecca) towards Fontaine never had any complaint about her acting ability. And that certainly means something. Because Sir Lawrence Olivier would have never shared a single scene with anyone who would not be able to play the given part as it’s meant to.

In conclusion, Suspicion is a great suspense thriller where the mystery stays with the viewer till the end.  Hitchcock manages to create an impossible to handle environment for Nina, where she goes as wild as possible to find out the truth about who she’s marry to. But the greatest mystery she is yet to solve, and after that, it will be all about accepting that… but will she be able to do it or not is something you must find out after you watch it…


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