Wednesday, March 31, 2021

"Suspicion" comes between Cary Grant and Joan Fontaine

Suspicion (1941) is a psychological romance directed by Alfred Hitchcock and starring Cary Grant and Joan Fontaine. The screenplay was written by Samson Raphaelson, Joan Harrison, and Alma Reville (Mrs. Alfred Hitchcock). The movie was based on the novel Before the Fact (1932) by Francis Iles.

Playboy Johnnie Aysgarth (Grant) meets a shy young woman named Lina McLaidlaw (Fontaine) on a train in England. Later they meet and he flirts with her and though reluctant at first, but she lets her defenses down when she hears her parents conclude that she will never marry.

Lina and Johnnie do marry but all is not bliss. Johnnie lies and connives his way through life leading Lina to think she made a terrible mistake by marrying him. The situation between them grows worse with Lina suspecting that Johnnie wants to do her in to gain her inheritance.

Alfred Hitchcock (1899 – 1980) was an English film director, producer, and screenwriter. He is one of the most influential filmmakers of the 20th century. Hitchcock directed over 50 feature films, many are classics that have been honored and studied for years. Some of Hitchcock’s classic films include The 39 Steps (1939), Rebecca (1940), Suspicion (1941), Shadow of a Doubt (1943), Notorious (1946), Rear Window (1954), Vertigo (1958), North by Northwest (1959), and Psycho (1960).

Cary Grant (1904 – 1986) was an English-born American actor who became one of the most popular leading men in film history. Grant started his career in vaudeville before heading to Hollywood. He became a superstar in the late 1930s in a series of screwball comedies including The Awful Truth (1937) with Irene Dunne. He was a memorable C. K. Dexter Haven in The Philadelphia Story (1940) opposite Katharine Hepburn and James Stewart. He received two Best Actor nominations for Penny Serenade (1941) and None but the Lonely Hearts (1944). Other classic Grant films include Gunga Din (1939), Only Angels Have Wings (1939), and Arsenic and Old Lace (1944). He made four popular films with Alfred Hitchcock: Suspicion (1941), Notorious (1946), To Catch a Thief (1955), and North by Northwest (1959). He was presented with an Honorary Oscar at the 42nd Academy Awards in 1970.

Joan Fontaine
 (1917 – 2013) was a British-American actress who starred in more than 45 films during Hollywood’s “Golden Age.” After secondary roles in Gunga Din (1939) and The Women (1939), her fortunes turned with her starring role in Alfred Hitchcock’s first American film, Rebecca (1940). She was nominated for Best Actress for her role in that film but lost to Ginger Rogers. The next year, she worked with Hitchcock again in Suspicion and this time won the Best Actress Oscar, beating out her older sister Olivia de Havilland. She received a third and final nomination for The Constant Nymph (1943). Other popular Fontaine films include This Above All (1942), From This Day Forward (1946), Ivy (1947), Letter from an Unknown Woman (1948), The Emperor Waltz (1948), and Ivanhoe (1952). After the late-1950s, she appeared less in films and more on stage and television. Fontaine and her sister are the only siblings to have won major acting Academy Awards.

The cast is rounded out by Cedric Hardwicke, Dame May Whitty, and Nigel Bruce.

Suspicion trivia:

  • Joan Fontaine is the only performer to win an Oscar in an Alfred Hitchcock film.
  • Fontaine read the novel the film was based on and sent Hitchcock a note offering to play the part for free, if necessary.
  • This was the first film that Hitchcock produced as well as directed.
  • Suspicion marked the first time Cary Grant worked with Hitchcock; he would go on to collaborate with the director on three more films, Notorious (1946), To Catch a Thief (1955), and North by Northwest (1959).
  • Grant was paid $112,500 and Fontaine earned $67,750.

To watch this film on YouTube, click on the link below.

To join our discussion of the film on Zoom, April 6, 2021, at 6:30 p.m., click here. Once you RSVP, you will receive an email with Zoom invitation and meeting link.

Discussion questions:

  1. Who had the better role, Grant or Fontaine?
  2. What did you think of the pairing of Grant and Fontaine?
  3. Did you think the ending was a letdown or did it make sense to you?
  4. Would this rank as one of the director’s best films? Would it make your top-ten?

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