Lina (Joan Fontaine) is well on her way to spinsterhood. Yes, her case is hopeless, since she has no suitors, appears to not want any suitors, and she has reached the ripe old age of mmmaybe twenty-five (and that's pushing it). Oh, and did I mention that she reads a lot and wears glasses? Who would want to marry someone so repellant?
|Disgusting! I think I just puked in my mouth a little!|
|Johnnie, checking Monkey Face for delicious lice|
|Literally spelling it out? Subtle.|
Hitchcock films are not famous for the acting performances, but Suspicion features the only Oscar-winning acting role from any Hitchcock film. Joan Fontaine won Best Actress as Lina. Personally, I don't get it. Fontaine spent a good portion of the film making tragic faces away from Cary Grant.
|Now, repeat thirty more times|
|Shifty eyes, sinister milk|
|"A toast: to whores --- a husband's best investment!"|
As for the direction, Suspicion shows Alfred Hitchcock refining his craft. There are a lot of clever bits in this movie, and most of them are extremely subtle. The most memorable shot is of the possibly poisoned milk Johnnie brings Lina; the way it stays so brilliantly white while Johnnie is in shadows played perfectly into the tension of that scene. There are other, less striking, examples of Hitchcock's craftiness, though. I really liked how the plausibility of Lina's suspicions were handled; the point-of-view in this film was so definitely Lina's that the audience never sees Johnnie in a scene without her. Who knows what he was up to when he was off-camera? There was also the technical feat of superimposing Lina's face over an imagined tragedy, which looked very good for the time period. Perhaps the greatest feat by Hitchcock in this film was how much he let the film rest on the shoulders of the main actors. This is easily the most character-driven film of his I have seen and it was interesting to see him allow two flawed characters the room to grow.
The flaws in Suspicion are not just with the characters, though. The ending is pretty terrible. There are dozens of articles online about the supposed original or proposed alternate endings to the film, but I just want to focus on what made the final cut. If you take the explanations given at face value, you are left with a huge anticlimax. To say it is out of left field would be generous; I immediately drew comparisons to the end of Poochie from The Simpsons.
everything suspicious about Johnnie being her own fanciful imagination. Really? That's the explanation that ties up this plot with a little bow? She's a woman and women are batshit crazy? If that's the argument that the filmmakers want to propose, I'm fine with that --- it could be hilarious --- but it shouldn't be the key component to a twist ending. The film seems to be building to such a promising end that the actual finale is incredibly disappointing. The movie's not bad, but that ending nearly ruined it for me.
Check out this Belgian movie poster I found online for Suspicion! Is it just me, or does it look like a dead Hitch next to Mr. Rogers? Stick to beer, Belgians. Movie posters are not your forte.