TCM Greatest Classic Films Collection: Hitchcock Thrillers (Suspicion / Strangers on a Train / The Wrong Man / I Confess)
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TCM Greatest Classic Films: Hitchcock Thrillers (4FE) (DVD)
Repeated viewings can't dispel the shock of the final scene in this classic 1941 romantic mystery--a brief but disorienting confrontation that suddenly inverts the heroine's mounting conviction that she's married a murderer, forcing us to reconsider virtually every scene and line of dialogue that's preceded it. It's a masterful coup de grace for director Alfred Hitchcock, who has built a puzzle around the corrosive power of suspicion, threaded with deft ambiguities that toy with dramatic conventions and character archetypes in nearly every frame.
As embodied by Joan Fontaine, who nabbed an Oscar in this second outing with the director, Lina McLaidlaw is a buttoned-up, bookish heiress whose prim exterior conceals longings for a more engaged emotional life. Her solution materializes in the darkly handsome Johnnie Aysgarth, a gambler, womanizer, and spendthrift who flirts, then pursues, and soon marries her. As Aysgarth, Cary Grant is both irresistible and sinister, capable of deceit and petty theft, as well as grander designs on his bride's impending fortune. Lina's passion for Johnnie is clouded by each new revelation about his apparent dishonesty, from clandestine gambling to real estate development schemes; more troubling are clues implicating him in the death of his best friend, and the prospect that Johnnie may be slowly poisoning Lina herself. By the time we see him ascending a darkened staircase with a suspicious glass of milk, an image made all the more indelible through the spectral glow the director captures in the glass, the evidence seems damning indeed.
In fact, even as Hitchcock stacks the deck against Johnnie, and takes full advantage of Grant's skill at conveying such menace, the director also dots his landscape with visual clues to Lina's own neurotic (and erotic) obsessions. The final scene forces us to reevaluate her behavior while leaving enough of a cloud over Johnnie to rob him, and us, of a complete exoneration. It's a wicked, unsettling payoff to a brilliantly executed thriller. --Sam Sutherland --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Product Description
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Essentially, Suspicion is the story of a bookish, shy English girl (Joan Fontaine) who falls in love with a charming but irresponsible man named Johnny (Cary Grant). As the film progresses, the audience begins to suspect Johnny of more than simply gambling and being irresponsible, which raises the question - are the suspicions justified or is "Monkey Face" (what Johnny calls his wife) just being paranoid?
The film progresses, building to a seemingly unforgettable conclusion - but then suddenly, and very unconvincingly, Johnny is vindicated! In my opinion, this ending, while still making Suspicion a great film and enjoyable to watch, really detracts from the overall effect. I feel that Hitchcock's original ending, in which Johnny gives his wife the poisoned milk, she drinks it, but writes a letter beforehand saying that she knew he was going to murder her, would have been far more effective. Sadly, however, because of Grant's matinee-idol appeal, the studio did not allow Hitchcock to cast him as a murderer (they feared it would hurt his popularity).
Anyhow, even though it is frustrating that Grant was so constrained by the studios and by his own persona, Suspicion is still a good film as it is, and is totally worth seeing!
Second of all let me warn you that this is NOT one of the best Hitchcock films. I find it really aggravating at moments, because Cary Grant's character drives me looney with his incessant fibbing and calling Lina "monkeyface". I did like the hairdo he gave her. Overall his acting is annoying here. In his other three Hitchcock films - Notorious, North by Northwest, and To Catch a Thief - he was much better. Joan Fontaine is basically the same character as she played in Rebecca, except that here it is rather tiring to watch her simper and swoon and be all sentimental over her man... In Rebecca I felt the role called for all that naive schoolgirl stuff. Here it isn't right. Ingrid Bergman could have done wonders for this movie...
I can say some positive things too, however. The costumes were lovely - what I could see of them under the sloppy colourisation. The story itself was quite good as well, except of course the controversial ending... which personally I felt was just one last lie from Cary and that he did kill her after they got home. Far too abrupt, whatever it was supposed to mean. The guy who played Beaky was one of the best characters - at least I didn't feel like he was acting. The murder mystery writer lady was good in her part, and her mortician brother was as well.
It would have been nice to have a bit more development with the characters. In most every other Hitchcock film, you know what they think and how they feel... here I was never sure.
Best Actress Oscar for her role, making her the ONLY actor/actress to be so recognized for a Hithcock film. The recommendation from this reviewer is to enjoy "Suspicion" for what it is-an above average suspense film with perhaps a hole or two in it.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
This is a WONDERFUL collection of Hitchcock classics from the 40s and 50s. I particularly enjoyed The Wrong Man and I Confess, had not seen either of those movies before. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Geraldine