Saturday, October 19, 2013

Suspicion, 1941

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
Written by Samson Raphaelson, Joan Harrison, and Alma Reville
Starring and

It's early Hitchcock, and he does a fine job of slowly building up the tension. Some of the early, more romantic part of the movie is a little stilted, but it's good enough. And, apparently, the glow in the famous glass of milk at the end is because they actually had a lightbulb in it. Perhaps what's best about the movie is that it really is an excellent portrait of suspicion as a phenomenon -- Joan Fontaine's perspective gets more and more turned by her fears about Cary Grant, so that every new piece of information becomes another bit of the indictment against him.

SPOILER ALERT: It's quite something to watch her fears and feelings color her thinking more and more, despite the fact that she has no evidence that he's a murderer -- and, in fact, isn't one. She's acting on information that she has twisted, rather than what really is. There's a lesson here: If we have fixed views -- particularly negative prejudices -- about issues or people and are unwilling to actually look at facts or even our personal experience, then everything we see or hear will just confirm what we already believe, rather than helping us to discover what is actually true. In Joan Fontaine's case, what's particularly striking is that she doesn't see her own complicity in creating the situation, and that she's unwilling (until the very end of the movie) to contend with the fact that her blaming Cary Grant for her own situation has been on a false basis and that her fears are the cause of much of what's gone on.

The faceless Cary Grant and the fearful glass of milk.

Suspicion at IMDB


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