1941               Psychological thriller

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    • Cary Grant Johnnie Aysgarth
    • Joan Fontaine Una McLaidlaw
    • Cedric Hardwicke General McLaidlaw
    • Nigel Bruce Gordon Cochran "Beaky" Thwaite
    • Dame May Whitty Mrs McLaidlaw
    • Isabel Jeans Mrs Newsham


  • Dir/Prod:
  • Scr:
      Samson Raphaelson, Joan Harrison, Alma Reville, from the novel Before the Fact by Frances Iles [Anthony Berkeley Cox]
  • Ph:
      Harry Stradling
  • Ed:
      William Hamilton
  • Mus:
      Franz Waxman
  • Art Dir:
      Van Nest Polglase, Carroll Clark




    [  s u s p i c i o n  :  m o v i e  r e v i e w  ]

    vhs dvd

    Rated: Unrated

    A marvellous Hitchcock thriller, with timid Joan Fontaine in mortal fear of being bumped off by her husband, amoral Cary Grant. Fontaine won the best actress Oscar for her pouting female-in-trouble portrayal, though some believed at the time that it was to compensate her for not winning the award for Rebecca the previous year. I'm not buying that. Fontaine successfuly transposes to the screen her innermost emotions and fears over the wastrel and apparently-murderous antics of her husband and her performance was well deserving of the statuette.

    Grant was at the top of his game in the 40s. The undisputed king of light romance (and boy what wouldn't we give to have him around today lighting up that formula instead of the lame-brained Hugh Grant vehicles), his sparkling characterization as the bounder fits the character like a glove. He continually discounts financial rsponsibilities and finally gets jammed over thefts from his employer.

    The minus point is that the film is hampered by the censorship of the time. But despite that constraint, Hitchcock still turns out a great movie. Unfolded at a leisurely pace, he deftly displays the effect of occurrences on the inner emotions of the wife. Protected girl of an English country manor, Fontaine falls in love and elopes with Grant, an impecunious and happy-go-lucky individual, who figured her family would amply provide for both of them. Deeply in love, she overlooks his monetary irresponsibilities until discovery that he has stolen a large sum from an estate, and prosecution and exposure looms.

    There's much to enjoy with this movie, not least a totally phoney Hollywood England which somehow adds charm to the piece, and sterling support from British expatriates Nigel Bruce and Cedric Hardwicke.


  • The screenwriter Samson Raphaelson was the author of the play The Jazz Singer, which was the inspiration for the landmark talkie film of the same name.

  • After the title Before the Fact received a less-than-enthusiastic reception, alternative suggestions include Fright, Suspicious Lady, Search for Tomorrow, Last Lover, Love in Irons and the delightful Men Make Poor Husbands. Just before the film's release, the studio finally accepted one of Hitchcock's suggestions, Suspicion.

  • Equally troublesome was the search for an ending to the picture with suggestions that Johnnie should join the air force and die in combat justly stamped on. In an attempt to get round the controversial ending of the original story, scenes were shot that suggested Lina had enjoyed an extramarital affair, thereby making her suicide her penance for her infidelity, but, after test audiences mocked, Hitchcock was forced to shoot the ending again.

  • In the film's key scene, where Johnnie brings a glass of milk up to Lina, Hitch had a light hidden in the glass of milk to make it appear more sinister, making it glow through the darkness.

  • Suspicion Poster Text: 'Each time they kissed, there was a thrill of love ... the threat of murder!'/'Thrill to them together in the greatest emotional hit ever directed by that master of suspenseful drama - Alfred Hitchcock!'/'In his arms she felt safety ... in his absence, haunting dread!'/'Cary Grant in his most powerful role as a wastrel husband intent on riches at any cost. Joan Fontaine in her first since Rebecca, as the bride whose love turned to terror! Completely compelling mystery romance!'/'Alfred Hitchcock, who gave you Foreign Correspondent and Rebecca, creates his most romantic mystery hit!'/'She won your heart in Rebecca. He drew your cheers in Philadelphia Story. Thrill to them together in a suspense-romance from the man who did Rebecca. Alfred Hitchcock.

  • Suspicion Trailer: It's an interesting one with Joan Fontaine performing a specially recorded sequence which is intercut with clips from the movie. She talks of how she loved Johnie and how she was terrified of him. She concludes by saying: 'These are the facts, the evidence before the crime. I wanted you to know in case I met a violent end...'

  • The Hitchcock Cameo: Posting a letter at the village post office. Around 45 minutes in.

  • Alot of the cast would appear in more than one Hitch movie. Fontaine obviously through Rebecca; Sir Credric hardwicke appeared in Rope; Dame May Whitty was of course the missing lady in The Lady Vanishes; Isabel Jeans was in Easy Virtue and Downhill with Ben Webster; Hilda Plowright had an uncredited role in Foreign Correspondent; Heather Angel worked on Lifeboat; and Leo G Carroll was in Rebecca, Spellbound, The Paradine Case and North by Northwest.

  • Remade for television in 1987 with Anthony Andrews. Mel Brooks spoofed it in 1977 in High Anxiety. In 1982 it was edited into Steve Martin's noir spoof Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid.

  • Seen Gone With the Wind? The marital home in Suspicion looks a deadringer for Tara? Why? Well, the front of David Selznick's studio was used for both properties.

  • RKO had been keen to make a movie version of Before the Fact since 1935. Louis Hayward had been penned in to play the smooth philanderer at an early stage followed by Robert Montgomery. He was followed by Laurence Olivier as a frontrunner for the lead. Maureen O'Hara was the name originally slated to play the delusional wife. Would have been quite a different movie had Olivier and O'Hara played the parts.

    Source: The Ultimate book on the films of Hitchcock: Complete Hitchcock

  • July 14: UK Dvd back in stock with scans of the Dvd added here


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