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on September 14, 2005
This review is for the 2004 Warner Brothers DVD.

The movie opens on train where Johnnie Aysgarth (Cary Grant) sits down in a private first class compartment with a frumpy young woman named Lina (Joan Fontaine). Johnnie makes an excuse that he was in another first class car but couldn't stand the smoke. When the conductor collects the tickets, he finds that Johnnie doesn't have a first class ticket or enough money to cover the difference in fare. With some slick salesmanship, Johnnie gets Lina to pay the additional fare. This is a foreshadowing of things to come. They meet again and have a whirlwind romance and get married. Lida quickly finds out that Johnnie has champaign tastes on a beer drinker's budget and uses a lot of charm and shrewd chicanery to obtain money without doing an honest day's work. As time goes on, Lida losses trust in Johnnie but later develops legitimate fears that he may go as far as committing murder for financial gain. This sets up the remainder of the film with plenty of suspense and drama finding out who the real Johnnie is and how far he'll go with his money scheming shenanigans.

I thoroughly enjoyed this movie for many reasons, but mainly because of the two leading actors: Cary Grant and Joan Fontaine. Not only were their individual performances terrific, but also the chemistry between the two was astounding. The Johnnie Aysgarth character was a spellbinding enigma throughout the entire film. Alfred Hitchcock masterfully directed the acting so that it was hard to tell if Johnnie was a charming, but irresponsible child in a man's body or deadly sociopath. Joan Fontaine won an Oscar for her performance as the emotionally tortured wife. Nigel Bruce also did a great job in a supporting role as Johnnie's old friend 'Beaky'. Another wonderful thing about this movie is that there is a clear comical element to the film - especially when Johnnie assumes that his newly wedded wife has lots of money but finds out she doesn't. The way Johnnie wiggles his way out several tight spots is a fascinating display of his creative and spontaneous ingenuity. All in all, it's a terrific suspense film with virtually no wasted moments in the entire movie. The ending is slightly controversial only because we find out in the commentary that the ending was change at the last minute. Some people would have undoubtedly preferred the original ending. I'm fine with the released version.

The DVD picture quality is nearly perfect for a movie this old. The transfer is sharp and blemish-free, with only a few grainy scenes. The sound was fine and DVD includes a bonus commentary segment about "Suspicion".

Movie: A

DVD Quality: A
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Hitchcock's three greatest films, IMHO, are "Rear Window", "Vertigo", and "Psycho". However, those are owned by Universal. The four films in this collection are very good films by general standards and pretty good films by Hitchcock standards.

"Suspicion" was made in the U.S., but has the look and feel of Hitchcock's British films. Joan Fontaine plays a woman who marries a charming man (Cary Grant) and doesn't realize until after their marriage that he is a perpetual adolescent - and pathological liar. But could he also be a killer? If you don't know the answer until the end, that is because Hitchcock didn't know either.

"Strangers on a Train" has a pro tennis player (Farley Granger) wanting to divorce his cheating wife so he can marry someone else. However, the cheating wife is expecting and thinks her current husband will be a great provider even if he isn't the father - divorce is out of the question. Our hero makes the mistake of discussing his problems with a sociopath on the train ride home. The sociopath (Robert Walker) suggests they perform each other's murder. You see, Walker's character comes from a wealthy family and wants his father done away with since his father has cut him off financially until he stops wasting his life. Unfortunately, Walker's character goes ahead with his end of the non-existent bargain, making everyone think that the tennis player has killed his estranged wife.

"I Confess" concerns a priest who hears the confession of a murder for which he is suspected. The priest could clear himself two ways - either by breaking his vow and revealing the killer to the police, or he could reveal his alibi - he spent the afternoon in question with a woman with whom he was involved before he became a priest. Either way out is unacceptable to the priest. Seldom seen, this has always been one of my favorites.

"The Wrong Man" has Henry Fonda as a under-capitalized musician accused of a crime. He fits the description of the robber, has no alibi, and has no money - which gives him a motive for the robbery of which he is accused. Nobody in law enforcement will believe him. This is probably the weakest film of the four although it is still pretty good.

All four of these films are in the more deluxe The Alfred Hitchcock Signature Collection (Strangers on a Train Two-Disc Edition / North by Northwest / Dial M for Murder / Foreign Correspondent / Suspicion / The Wrong Man / Stage Fright / I Confess / Mr. and Mrs. Smith). That set is full of extra-features, featurettes, and commentary. If you have any real interest in Hitchcock I suggest you save your pennies and buy that set. You won't regret it.
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VINE VOICEon July 30, 2005
Joan Fontaine was wonderful in this sensitive film about a shy woman who unexpectedly finds love and allows her insecurities to fuel her imagination with suspicion. She easily won the Academy Award for her performance following her fine turn the prior year in Rebecca. Based on a novel by Francis Iles, Hitchcock's second film starring Fontaine is more about love and the fear of losing it than suspense, but still has enough of his little touches to make it enjoyable as both.

Joan Fontaine is the shy but wealthy Lina. Though her head is often buried in books, her heart still beats, and when she is shown a little attention by irresponsible charmer Johnnie Aysgarth (Cary Grant), who calls her monkey-face, she begins to fall in love. When she overhears her family talking about her, it hurts her deeply, and she turns to Johnnie for the romance and adventure both she and those who know her thought she'd never have.

Fontaine is wonderful as she pines for the popular Johnnie to come calling again, until finally a cablegram salvages her pride in front of her skeptical family. Grant is excellent as the off-beat and fun Johnnie. When the shy Lina tells him she loves him, he realizes he feels the same and they run off and get married one rainy night.

Lina tries to be happy but begins to see Johnnie in a different light when his pal Beaky (Nigel Bruce) shows up. Johnnie's gambling and irresponsible ways are off-set by his charm, however, and her faith in him is always restored, as when he buys back a family heirloom he has sold when he hits it big at the track.

Lina learns through the town gossip that not only has Johnnie lost his job, but may have lost it because of theft, and decides to leave him. She is writing her note to him when Johnnie breaks in to tell her the sad news of her father's death. All is forgotten for a time as she needs Johnnie more than ever.

When Johnnie's debts become serious and the sweet but slow Beaky turns up dead, in a manner Johnnie has read about in her friend's mystery novels, her insecurities allow her imagination to take the next step. And when she discovers Johnnie has attempted to borrow against her life insurance policy....

Fontaine is simply marvelous in a tender and subtle performance and Cary Grant gives Johnnie just the right mix of charm and danger. The beautiful romantic score from Franz Waxman was Oscar nominated. Heather Angel has a nice part as the maid Ethel and Auriol Lee lends fine support as the mystery writer friend of Lina. Nigel Bruce, of Sherlock Holmes fame, really shines as Johnnie's pal Beaky.

Though some have a problem with Hitchcock's ending, the sensitive and romantic tone of the film almost demands the ending we get. A very fine romantic film with a touch of suspense.
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VINE VOICEon August 7, 2000
Like his other great films that relied on the last few minutes of the movie to resolve the great mystery throughout (like Psycho), this one keeps you guessing until the end. As a matter of fact, it's one of those movies that you have to watch again just to catch all the clues you missed throughout. From the first time we meet Grant's character, we see a taste of things to come from him. He's irresponsible with money, which leads him to make some bad decisions - yet Fontaine's character loves him anyway. Then things take a turn for the worst, and he finds himself deeply in debt and the world crashing down on him. His only solution: insurance money...money that can only be collected by his wife's death - but would he go that far? Or worse yet: has he murdered already? This movie keeps you guessing until the last minutes of it. While I agree that the ending comes rather too abruptly and you feel slightly robbed by the quick resolution of it all, it's still a great Hitchcock film (weren't they all though?) and deserves to easily head into the top 10 of all of his efforts.
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VINE VOICEon April 12, 2007
"Suspicion" finds Joan Fontaine in the Academy Award-winning role of Lina McLaidlaw, a wealthy but shy young lady whose parents have lost hope of her finding a husband. That all changes when she meets the enormously charming Johnnie Aysgarth, who is played with a devilish ambiguity by Cary Grant. Are his intentions pure, or is he a cad? Alas, after the two are married, Lina's suspicions about her new husband become far more sinister than that. He turns out to be a compulsive liar, deeply in debt, and morally suspect; all of which leads Lina to the frightening conclusion that his cold-bloodedness may extend to murder -- first of his best friend Beaky, and then of her.

The story follows the conventions of an early twentieth century mystery novel -- specifically, it feels like something that the venerable Agatha Christie would have cooked up. There is even a female character that earns a living as a mystery writer, whose conversations about the plotlines of her own books add weight to the parallel. But what is so ingenius about the plot is that it goes beyond mere convention; imagine that you suddenly find yourself at the center of one of those mystery novels and you will understand something of the paranoia and bewilderment that Lina feels when she comes to believe that that is exactly what has happened to her. But is she right about Johnnie? Is her titular suspicion that he will try to kill her justified, or is she crazy?

Sadly, this question would be better explored in a later film by Hitchcock: 1954's Rear Window (Collector's Edition). It is explored even more deeply in two classic chillers by Ira Levin: Rosemary's Baby and The Stepford Wives, and also by their subsequent film adaptations. What goes wrong in "Suspicion" has to do with the misogynist characterization of Lina and the cheap Hollywood ending that the film slaps on. The latter is no fault of Hitchcock's -- the documentary in the special features explains that he was forced to change the bleaker climax by censors -- but those who take issue with the former will find themselves agreeing with critics who express distaste with Hitchcock's portrayals of women in his films. Lina's bland acceptance of Johnnie's faults could be passed off as a product of the times, but when she fails to do anything about her suspicions that he is plotting to kill her it is nothing short of ridiculous. Ironically, the Hollywood ending comes to the rescue here because it accidentally imbues her with a tiny degree of strength that the original climax would never have mustered.

Still, "Suspicion" is a remarkably well made film with excellent performances from Fontaine, Grant, and Nigel Bruce as Johnnie's friend Beaky. The directing is, of course, excellent -- though to get a full appreciation of what went in to it you should really watch the 30 minute documentary on the film as well. An example of one fascinating tidbit gleaned from it: in order to make a suspicious glass of milk that Johnnie brings to Lina stand out, Hitchcock contrived to place a light bulb in the glass -- giving it an eerie glow. Whatever your opinion of Hitchcock the man, one has to admit that Hitchcock the director was nothing short of genius.
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on April 3, 2007
It does not matter how "young" you are, it does not matter if you watch only color movies. This BW movie is ageless as Cary Grant is in his movies. He is at his best and is highly entertaining as always having an infinite amount of energy. It is fascinating to watch the movie as it evolves with a rather surprizing ending. "Grab" this movie. The picture quality is excellent. This is the type of movie that you can watch several times and never get bored. It would be unfortunate if new generations do not familiarize themselves with such classics and such actors as Cary Grant.
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on September 25, 2011
This is one of my favorites from the TCM Greatest Classic Films Collection, especially since it's a Hitchcock collection. These 4 films are suspenseful, romantic, very noir-ish (they're all black and white), dramatic, and they all have that Hitchcock touch. If you don't own any of these films and you love Hitchcock, this is a must own!

Suspicion- One of my favorite Hitchcock movies from the 40's. It's a romantic suspense noir, starring Cary Grant and Joan Fontaine (in her Academy Award winning role). I think this movie can stand up right along with "Laura", "The Big Sleep", and maybe even "The Maltese Falcon". In the movie, Joan Fontaine falls in love with Cary Grant, and suddenly she suspects him of being a murderer. It has a beautiful setting, great acting, a sharp script, amazing suspense and romance, and a famous Hitchcock sequence where Cary Grant brings up a supposedly poisoned glass of milk up to Joan Fontaine (they put a lightbulb in milk to make it glow like that). It's a creepy film-noir scene and I love it! Also, Hitchcock did 2 cameos in this film! It comes with a 20 minute featurette about the film including interviews with different people, including Hitch's daughter, Pat, and it also includes the theatrical trailer. This has to be my favorite film from this collection.

Strangers on a Train- Suspenseful and dark, one of Hitchcock's most perfect movies. If you haven't seen this movie, you need to see it now, because it's one of Hitchcock's best movies. The film is about a tennis star, Guy Haines (Farley Granger), who bumps into a man named Bruno Anthony (Robert Walker) on a train, and suddenly Bruno comes up with a plan for "the perfect murder". He insists that he will kill Guy's unfaithful wife, Miriam (Laura Elliott), if Guy will kill Bruno's father, who he hates. Guy takes it as a joke, but when Bruno actually strangles Miriam to death at a fair (in a famous Hitchcock sequence where it shows the murder through her glasses, which are laying on the ground. It has a great supporting cast, including Ruth Roman, Leo G. Carroll, and Hitch's daughter, Pat (she's so cute!) She appeared in two other of his films, Stage Fright (1950), and Psycho (1960). "Strangers on a Train" is a suspenseful noir that deserves to be called of of Alfred Hitchcock's best thrillers of all time. As for the extras, other than a commentary and the theatrical trailer, there are no extras.

I Confess- This is a very different (and underrated) Hitchcock picture, and it's actually one of my favorites. It has drama, some suspense, romance, and the beautiful Quebec. It's about a Catholic priest (Montgomery Clift) who hears a confession of a man who accidentally murdered somebody. Suddenly, he gets mixed up in the middle of the whole thing, but since he can't say anything because of the secrecy of the confessional, he gets accused of being the murderer. This is actually a pretty diverse movie. It mixes up drama, romance, suspense, and courtroom, with a great ending. Altogether, this is a very great and Catholic movie (Hitchcock was a Roman Catholic). It comes with a 20 minute documentary, a minute long vintage newsreel footage of the release, and the theatrical trailer.

The Wrong Man- This is probably Hitchcock's darkest picture. Even more darker in nature than "Vertigo". It's a very bleak noir with a shrieking, loud, and depressing Bernard Herrman score. It's also based on a true story, that's why Alfred didn't do a cameo, he did an introduction to the movie, but just showing his silhouette from far away. It's about a man who attempts to borrow on his wife's insurance policy when she needs dental work, and ends up being accused of being a bank robber, and he gets imprisoned. After that, the film gets more depressing and depressing after that. It's a fresh, bold, and different Hitchcock picture that is very underrated. It also has religious imagery, like in "I Confess". It's a movie that I just couldn't take my eyes off the whole entire time, because it just takes you into the movie. It's a very unique Hitchcock experience. It comes with a 25 minute featurette on the movie and the theatrical trailer. Definitely see this!

Altogether, this TCM set is worth buying. It features 4 suspenseful, romantic, and beautiful movies that you can watch multiple times from the Master of Suspense.
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on July 6, 2008
Joan Fontaine won the Academy Award for her performance in 1941's "Suspicion." The previous year she had portrayed a very similar character in Hitchcock's "Rebecca - Criterion Collection." Lina McLaidlaw is a slightly more confident and sophisticated version of The Second Mrs. de Winter. Both characters are naïve young Englishwomen, swept off their feet by handsome worldly men. They discover too late that the men they married may be capable of anything - even murder.

After the briefest possible acquaintance, Lina defies her family's wishes and elopes with Johnnie Aysgarth. Her father has warned her that Johnnie is wild. Society whispers about his crimes, possibly cheating at cards or being named correspondent in a divorce. He is a man who has disgraced his name and his family, and now lives on the fringes of polite society surviving only only on his looks and his charm. General McLaidlaw does not approve of Johnnie, but Lina doesn't care.

Almost immediately after they return from the honeymoon, Lina begins to learn that her new husband is not the man she imagined. The first revelation is that he is completely broke, living on borrowed funds, and expects to be supported by Lina's allowance from her family - and one day to live in style on her inheritance.

As the film progresses, the suspense is masterfully built up as Lina learns that Johnnie is also a liar, a thief, a gambler, and an embezzler. His addiction to the horses has left him perpetually broke and desperate for funds. She begins to suspect that, in order to get money, Johnnie will stop at nothing, not even the murder of his best friend... or the murder of his wife.

If there is a flaw in this film, it's casting Cary Grant as the notorious Johnnie Aysgarth. Hitchcock once said that one didn't direct Cary Grant, one simply put him in front of a camera. He certainly has the looks and charm; but is he believable as a villain? For the movie to really work, you have to believe that Cary Grant is capable of a host of heinous sins. Hitchcock really strains suspension of disbelief here.

As Johnnie's best friend, Beaky, Nigel Bruce give us his trademark good natured, bumbling Englishman character - very similar to his version of Dr. Watson in The Complete Sherlock Holmes Collection.

Hitchcock is a master with black and white cinematography. In one of the film's most famous scenes, Johnnie slowly climbs a curving staircase, carrying a tray with a single glass of milk to his ailing wife. The house is dark, Johnnie is seen only as a shadowy silhouette, but the glass of milk actually glows on the screen. Hitchcock wanted us to focus on that glass. Could it contain...poison?

The film also boasts a beautiful score by Franz Waxman built around Lina and Johnnie's love theme, the Strauss waltz, "Vienna Blood."

The DVD has an English only soundtrack with available subtitles in English, French or Spanish. It also includes an original theatrical trailer, and a documentary about the making of the film and the transition between the source material (Before the Fact (Pan Classic Crime)) and the changes made by Hitchcock and the studio.

This is one of Hitchcock's best early efforts, but it would have been an even better film had the studio not interfered with his original vision. Nevertheless, it's still a very good movie. Recommended.
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on April 19, 2016
"Suspicion"(1941) has always been one of the most popular films in the long career of Alfred Hitchcock and one that still causes debate concerning it's ending. It was one of the first of Hitchcock's films to be released on home video(VHS, DVD) but many of those versions have been less than stellar and fans of the film have been waiting(some patiently) for years for it to finally get the justice it deserves. Warner's(through it's Archive Collection) has finally released "Suspicion" on Blu-ray for the first time and it's arrival last week was definitely worth the wait. This is the third Hitchcock film to be released by Warner's this year and like the other two("I Confess" and "The Wrong Man") fans should be more than pleased with the results. Digitally restored in 2K(by MPI) from a fine-grain master positive taken from the original nitrate camera negative, "Suspicion" has never looked better and is an outstanding visual presentation from start to finish(Bitrate: 34.92). There are no vertical lines, white specks, torn or damaged frames and although grain is present, the picture quality is nearly pristine. The cinematography by Harry Stradling Jr. is really highlighted on Blu-ray with the the McLaidlaw home being especially impressive. The wood paneled interiors are so vivid that viewers will feel like they're actually in the room with the characters watching the action that takes places. Even the titles of the books in the bookcase are easy to read. Stradling's use of shadows is really apparent now in the famous scene of Grant's character walking up a flight of stairs holding a tray with a glass of milk that glows in the dark. This scene is even more sinister now on Blu-ray! Costumes are another delight with Grant's pin stripped suit and Fontaine's evening dress being very detailed. It's easy to see how Hitchcock was drawn to this romantic psychological mystery and he drops many clues along the way. Years later, Hitchcock told a reviewer that he was interested in what would happen to a wife who "imagined" in her mind that her husband was trying to kill her. That is the central theme of the story and Joan Fontaine certainly captures those feelings in her performance as Lina McLaidlaw the repressed daughter of a wealthy family. One of the most beautiful actresses ever to appear on screen, she displays her character's inner torment and confusion with exceptional skill that rightly won her the Oscar that year. Her co-star, Cary Grant, gives one of his best performances as the playboy who sweeps her off her feet but ultimately cannot support her. His character is not very likable for the most part and is definitely a change of pace for the actor. Supposedly, Grant and Fontaine did not get along during the filming but you'd never know it. Their on-screen chemistry is very apparent and one of the highlights of the film until the very end. And now about that ending. According to an interview that Joan Fontaine did in the Eighties, the current "happy" ending was added to the picture after a preview audience hated the original "sad" ending where Grant poisons his wife(same ending as the novel). The studio(RKO) felt that Grant's image would be forever tarnished if he were portrayed as a murderer and therefore ordered Hitchcock to shoot a happier ending. Whether Fontaine's recollections are accurate or not has been the subject of much speculation over the years but there you have it. Despite this meddling from the studio, "Suspicion" is an outstanding presentation, even more so now that it is on Blu-ray. "Suspicion" is 99 minutes(Aspect ratio: 1.37:1) and contains the following subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish, Czech, and Polish. The Audio is English DTS-HD MA 2.0 and Dolby Digital 2.0 for French and Spanish. Special features include a making of documentary titled: "Before the Fact: Suspicious Hitchcock" and the original theatrical trailer. The Blu-ray disc itself is housed in a solid standard Blu-ray case(not an eco-cutout case). Warner's new Blu-ray of "Suspicion" is vast improvement over previous editions of the film and comes highly recommended.
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on August 29, 2004
Following quickly on the heals of her success in "Rebecca" Joan Fontaine scored the coveted Best Actress Oscar for her role as Lina McLaidlaw in "Suspicion" (1941), a bizarre and disturbing romantic mystery. Beneath her bookish exterior Lina's a repressed soul. But her traditional reservations are merely a façade for lusty home fires that seem to be sparked to satisfaction in her encounter with handsome playboy, Jonnie Aysgarth (Cary Grant). The two soon marry. However, as the romance progresses Jonnie seems to be more than just an elegant rogue. Could it be? Is he a murderer? Brimming with Hitch's corrosive ambiguities that slowly begin to erode Lina's trust in her new husband, "Suspicion" plays tricks on both Lina and the audience's collective understanding of where Jonnie intends to take us with his brooding thoughts and sinister glass of glow-in-the-dark milk. This is a deeply unsettling, wickedly concocted puzzle; a film that plays more for enigma than plot and tease rather than substance, but it works on every level to tantalize like a car wreck that one is not involved in yet is strangely compelled to.

Warner's DVD transfer exhibits a balanced gray scale with deep, solid blacks and reasonably clean whites. Dirt, scratches and other age related artifacts are present but do not terribly distract. There's a complete lack of edge enhancement, pixelization and shimmering of fine details for a picture that is overall smooth and easy on the eyes. The audio is mono but very nicely cleaned up. Extras include a very brief documentary on the making of the film and its theatrical trailer.
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