I rarely ever revisit a film and talk about it. Usually watching it for the pleasure, sometimes there’s a need to understand what was earlier lost on me. I have a few lined up which I need to reconsider, not really seeing them for what they are. An underestimation of what they are about. So the first in a series of reviews I begin with one of the very first I watched about 3-4 years ago. Having already seen North By Northwest (1959) and Psycho (1960) which I found to be more engaging than Suspicion (1941) which was darker in tone than the lighter North by Northwest with Cary Grant. I think I was caught up in the upper-class world that the earlier film took place in when Johnnie (Grant) begins to court Lina (Joan Fontaine a shy and reserved woman who falls for his charms. Who wouldn’t, its Cary Grant, who was Alfred Hitchcock’s go to actor at the time.
However the average man in Grant has a far darker side that starts to reveal itself when they marry and move into a world if debt and doubt. Living in a house that has yet to be paid for and a husband who won’t take a job. The life of a playboy, emphasis on the playing with his friend Beaky (Nigel Bruce) who is in his own little world.
Whilst Lina and Johnnie are squarely in reality with a different set of morals. One living by his wits to get the money he wants, whilst the wife wants stability and safety in her life. Its Johnnie who is control of everything here, helped very much by Grants charismatic performance that steals the show. Leaving both the audience and Lina in the dark as to his true intentions. Lina and the audience develop a very different picture from that of the gambling man. Who could even kill to get what he wants. We never see any deaths on-screen, more a suggestion of what could be. The power of Hitchcock has travelled across the Atlantic and slowly being honed up to become what we see in his later films of. It’s not so much what we see but what we don’t, that power of suggestion. Even the dramatic imagery of a death is just in the imagination.
I think what made me come away from the film so disaffected was the ending that after such a climax, on the open road became a happy ending, very much in the style of films at the time. On thinking about it there is still room for what happens after we leave them on the coastal roads. Will there be another argument, which leads to a death. Who knows. That is the power of Hitchcock which was very much misunderstood at the time. I now hold the film in a higher regard, not as strong as other works of the decade such as Shadow of a Doubt (1943) which really questioned what we really know of people’s past and the true drives.