Thursday, August 26, 2010

Capsule Review: Suspicion (1941)

Cary Grant plays an almost impossibly charming playboy who sweeps the naive (and rich) Joan Fontaine off of her feet, until she discovers that he's near-penniless. Soon he's forced into some get-rich schemes with the bumbling Beaky (Nigel Bruce). No, this isn't a romantic comedy, but it would be tough to know that from the first 45 minutes, where Grant (as Johnnie Aysgarth) could easily have walked in from some of his lighter efforts. The brilliance comes when Fontaine's Lina begins to suspect that Johnnie - who is being accused of stealing from his employer - might be willing to murder to avoid his possible jail sentence. The tension builds rapidly, climaxing in a famous scene where Johnnie brings Lina some milk that she believes to be poisoned. The ending - which Hitchcock disliked - really does seem tacked on and incongruous, but it hardly takes away from the brilliance that comes before. Not as terrifying as Hitchcock's very best, this one has a unique menace.

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