I would first like to welcome The Void back! She chose this movie for me during her hiatus, so I have watched it, had time to stew on it, and here goes my dissection.
For this outing, The Void has chosen the 1941 Alfred Hitchock movie, “Suspicion”. She told me upon discussing it with her after my viewing, that she picked this for me because of how swooned over Cary Grant in “Notorious”. Unfortunately, without giving too much away, this film has slightly tarnished not only my opinion of Mr. Grant, but of Mr. Hitchcock as well. I have never had a problem liking flawed characters, just look at my past dating history, but as I get older, I have come to differentiate between flawed and defective. But let’s get into the nitty gritty shall we, and I hope to explain what I mean. I hope you will join me for my take of 1941’s “Suspicion”. You can check out my last Hitchcock review here.
So It Begins: Suspicion
The film begins with a black screen and Johnnie (Cary Grant) apologizing to someone unseen, explaining he didn’t realize they were going to go through a tunnel and he thought the compartment was empty. When the light fills the compartment, we see Lina (Joan Fontaine), book in hand, looking slightly annoyed at Johnnie as he is putting his things on the shelf above the seat opposite her. He complains to her that he had to switch compartments because of the cigar smell next door. He asks if she smokes and explains how relieved he is when she says no because he apparently had quite the evening the night before. When he asks her if she understands, he surveys her more conservative appearance; her sensible shoes, child psychology book, high buttoned coat and hat, and he conveys a look of ‘well maybe not’.
Just then the porter enters asking for their tickets. Lina retrieves hers from her handbag, while Johnnie quickly goes from pocket to pocket, searching for his. Lina’s ticket is first class; Johnnie’s ticket is for third class. The porter explains he is in the wrong compartment. Johnnie accuses the rail line of ‘selling third class tickets at first class prices’. The porter gives him the total for the seat upgrade, and Johnnie asks if they will accept what he has, which is not enough.
The porter looks at him unsympathetically, and Johnnie asks Lina if she has any change. She starts to pull coins out of her purse and he reaches over, grabs what he needs and gives the money to the porter, who gives him a disgusted look as he leaves the compartment. Now personally, I don’t care how handsome or charming a person is, if they help themselves to my money, out of my hand, they are pulling back a bloody stump!
Johnnie acts as though he is trying to sleep, while Lina picks up the newspaper. She opens it to the society page, and there is her new, freeloading compartment mate pictured with an elegantly dressed woman. Lina looks from the paper to Johnnie as he looks out the window, annoyed by the sunlight.
The Fox Hunt
We are now at the start of a very traditional English fox hunt. Bugles playing, horses antsy to get going and dogs barking. Johnnie is charming the ladies and a local photographer. In the distance he sees a horse being a bit cooperative and he instantly recognizes the rider as his unwitting travel companion, only this time, she is sans glasses, looking vibrate and RICH!. He asks the ladies he is with her name, because of course he didn’t bother when he was pilfering money out of her hand. One of the women warns him that Lina is ‘not up his alley’. Johnnie replies he is ‘bored with people in my alley’. He asks for an introduction and the woman who issued the warning refuses. Johnnie says he will just have to do so himself, as the ladies go to get ready for the hunt.
With the hunt over, we now find Lina, back in her more mousey attire, casually reading in her home. Visitors arrive at her window and she greets them, inviting them in. They are the same ladies from the hunt, and Johnnie got the introduction he wanted. Lina instantly takes off her glasses and accepts the introduction, shyly. The girls tell Lina that when they saw her in the window, Johnnie insisted on meeting her. I am sure this was completely a coincidence (Wink Wink).
Lina questions why Johnnie would care to meet her, and his answer made me gag a little. This man is so full of himself, he is going to need a bigger suit! Lina is more reserved than his other companions. He tells her that she should hurry so she is not late for church, which she was not planning on attending. When she inquires with the ladies if that was their plan, they are caught off guard, but Johnnie sees his plan working out as intended.
The three women extend an invitation to join them, and much to Johnnie’s delight, Lina accepts, with a bit of speculation towards her stalker in her voice. He asks her to put on the hat she had on the train, signalling to not only Lina, but the other ladies, that he remembers her and it is not their first meeting. Lina leave to make herself ready, while the ladies take seats to wait for her return. Johnnie pick up the book Lina was reading and as a bookmark , she is using his picture she saw in the paper on the train, much to his delight.
A Deadly…Hair Fixing?
When they reach the church, Johnnie finds a way to separate Lina from the group and before entering the two leave together. We next find them struggling on what appears to be a cliff top. Lina is not amused, while Johnnie see this as all great fun. He inquires why she so aggressively fought off his advances, afterall, it wasn’t like he was trying to kill her. No means NO, even in 1941! He explains that he was not trying to kiss her, he was just trying to fix her hair, telling her that her hair is all wrong.
He then undoes her hair and makes it ridiculous. She tells him that she is much different than the women he is photographed with, he asks her how he stacks up against her horse. Interesting approach, at this point, I would compare him more to a dog…but anyway. Lina tells him that if she ever got the bit in his mouth, she would have no problem controlling him. That’s my girl! Johnnie then makes his move to try and kiss her, and she dodges successfully. It is at this point he bistoes his new nickname on her. Monkeyface.
Johnnie walks Lina home, and as they approach, she asks him not to come further. He tells her he will come to ‘fetch her’ at 3:00. She tells him no, and he keeps insisting. She leaves him, and as she approaches the house, she hears her family discussing her. They are talking how she will never marry, how they will have to care for her, and that she is a spinster. Her father does praise her brains and character, but the damage is done.
Mom and Dad basically tied a steak around her neck and sent her to the wolf! Lina turns to see Johnnie standing there beside her. He is smiling, and it is uncertain if he heard what her parents said or not. Lina wraps her arm around his neck and kisses the wolf, I mean Johnnie. She quickly retreats into the house and joins her parents for lunch.
Lina tells her parents she didn’t go to church after all, but went on a walk instead with Johnnie. Her father quickly remarks that Johnnie is wild, and when Lina asks, he tells her he was caught cheating at cards. She tells her parents she is seeing him again, and she no more gets the words out, and she gets a call that he has canceled their plans. She returns to the table, slightly defeated.
As time goes on, Lina tries to track Johnnie down. She inquires if he has been invited to an upcoming ball, checks her mail, and calls him home. No reply. The night of the ball, Lina’s mother comes to her room to find her crying, saying she is not going to the ball. A telegram arrives, stating Johnnie’s intentions on seeing her there. Suddenly Lina’s mood changes and she opts for a more revealing dress.
At the ball, Lina is watching the others dance. She waits on the sidelines, anxiously watching the door for the wolf. A friend approaches her and they start to dance. LIna’s father is approached by the butler, saying that there is someone at the door. He says he is with his party, to which Lina’s father disputes ever extending an invitation. The matter is quickly dismissed as Lina sees him and the two begin to dance, leaving her stunned father and his other female admirers behind.
They dance their way out of the ball, and Johnnie helps himself to Lina’s family’s car, as she gleefully protests. They drive off, all smiles and he asks her if she has ever kissed in a car. When she says never, he remedies that situation. Their conversation reveals how much of a ladies man he is. He admits to her that he is honest with her because he can see that is what will get him results, to which she replies with a confession of love.
He is a cad and she is an idiot. Blunt I know, but it is one thing to be fooled by someone who is pretending to be something they are not. It is something entirely different, when they lay every ugly detail out on the table, and yet “but I love him”, is still your reply. I want to reach through the screen and slap her, just on principle.
Johnnie tells her he is falling in love with her as well, and they make a stop at Lina’s house for a drink. Johnnie tells her how nervous he is and she says she is not, because she knows what she wants. He is taken aback by the painting of Lina’s father, admitting that he knows her father doesn’t like him. To his credit, Johnnie tells her, he is everything that her father says he is. Johnnie proposes and she agrees as they dance to a song of their own.
Well That Was Fast: The Fatal Flaw of Suspicion
Lina is leaving to elope and she goes to tell her parents goodbye. Okay….I am going to be honest with you here. When I review the movies, I watch them once and then watch them again, pausing and analyzing the scenes. I can’t with this one. It just pissed me off. So here is the rest of the film in a nutshell.
Lina runs off and marries Johnnie, who, when they return home from a honeymoon he bought with credit, moves them into a home they can’t afford. He is banking on the fact that her parents will give her money. The only thing that they give them is a set of antique chairs, that he turns around and hocks so he can go and gamble. Lina is upset and heart broken until Johnnie returns from the track with presents for her, and his lifelong friend, who is staying with him. He gives her the receipt for the chairs he bought back and all is forgiven. The friend mentions he has an allergy to brandy, and drinking it could kill him.
Johnnie agrees to take a job with his cousin as a property manager. When Lina goes to visit him at work one day, she discovers they fired him for stealing $2000, the exact amount he “won” at the track. She does not confront him, but starts to pack, and once again “But I love him.” comes into play. She stays of course.
Johnnie and his friend decide to start a corporation and go into real estate, but the land they try to buy is bogus. Lina’s father dies and instead of money, he leaves them the painting from the study. Good job Pop! The friend goes back to Paris to dissolve the corporation, while Johnnie goes to London.
Johnnie’s a Little Sketch, But Why Does That Matter?
Later in the week police show up and tell Lina the friend is dead, someone had poisoned him with brandy. They ask where her husband is, and she covers for him. She calls the club where he was to be staying, and they said he left a few days ago. She instantly believes her husband killed the friend.
Then, there is a bunch of stuff with life insurance and Lina again believes Johnnie is going to kill her this time. She decides to leave him and go to her mothers, which he agrees to. There is a struggle in the car and confrontation and Johnnie reveals he was going to kill himself. That way, she could have the life insurance money and pay off the debt and get rid of him. Of course Lina responded with, “But I love you.” and they drive off into the sunset.
Final Thoughts on Suspicion
I wanted to like this film so much, Hitchcock, Grant, Fontane….but it is just a pile of pretty people doing disgusting and stupid things and charming their way out of it. She never should have married him, and when he sold her chairs, she should have been gone. I love the players in this film, but not the film. I will not be watching this again, anytime soon.
Am I angry about this? Yes. Do I recommend it? No. The Void has given an assignment from way back in time, and possibly the pits of Hell. As long as there are no chair stealing, pretty boys; I can handle anything but that!
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