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".
DVD Quality: A
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.
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.
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.
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.