I had never seen this before but I’ve heard of it. I don’t think I ever really knew what it was about though. This movie is brilliant. It does such a great job of manipulating the audience. I feel like not knowing anything about this movie makes it better but I will say that casting such a likable character as Cary Grant was perfect for this role.
I first saw Suspicion a long time ago (sometime in elementary school) because it was on a list of the best thrillers but still didn’t sound all that scary. And it’s not really scary per se, but it freaked me out then and it freaks me out now.
I don’t understand a lot of things about weddings and marriage, the biggest one being that I don’t understand why couples feel like they need to rush into marriage. When I first learned of arranged marriages when I was a kid, that scared the hell out of me. To me, marriage meant forever, and forever seems even longer when you’re single-digit age. So the idea of being forced into something that you have to stick with forever was really horrifying to me. And consequently, the idea of voluntarily going into something forever too soon was pretty scary to me, too.
All of the fears I had surrounding that kind of stuff is manifested in Suspicion. It follows Lina (Joan Fontaine – who has some of my favorite eyebrows of all time), a rich, shy, unmarried woman. She meets Johnnie (Cary Grant) who is . . . well, what you would expect from a Cary Grant character: handsome, charming, witty, attentive. Not long after meeting they run away together and get married against Lina’s family’s wishes. Aaaand it turns out Lina’s family was in the right; almost immediately after returning from their honeymoon, Lina learns (for the first time) that Johnnie is unemployed and was banking on Lina’s father’s money to support them. Oh yeah, and he has a gambling addiction!
And it really doesn’t end there. He also embezzled money from his last job and sold,without Lina knowing, two antique, family heirloom chairs given to both of them by Lina’s father as a wedding present, to pay off a gambling debt. All signs point to Lina leaving Johnnie, but something keeps her. Maybe his charm and good looks, but I also think it has a lot to do with Lina not wanting to give up on this relationship that she’s already put so much hope into. Plus then Lina’s father dies, which seems to further put breaking up with Johnnie on the backburner. But Lina’s annoyances with Johnnie turn to suspicions when Johnnie is openly disappointed that Lina didn’t inherit money from her father. She then overhears Johnnie convincing their friend to go in on a huge land deal with him, which Lina thinks is a con. Lina tries to talk their friend out of it, making Johnnie angry enough to apparently cancel the deal completely, even though Johnnie still travels to Paris with their friend. In London, while Johnnie is still gone, their friend is killed and Lina immediately suspects Johnnie.
Johnnie doesn’t help clear his name with her though, by questioning one of Lina’s novelist friends about untraceable poisons, which makes Lina think he is now trying to kill her for her insurance money. The more Lina focuses on this, the more suspicious Johnnie acts – including giving her milk that Lina is too scared to drink for fear of being poisoned. Johnnie and Lina continually dance around each other, talking but not talking, suspicious of each other but trying to cover it up. Finally Lina decides to visit her mother for a while to get away from everything, but while driving her there Johnnie is practically suicidal; he swerves like crazy on a scary mountain road, causing Lina’s door to fly open. Johnnie reaches over and Lina doesn’t know if it’s to pull her back into the car or to push her out completely.
In the end, Johnnie pulls her back and admits that he is suicidal, but not homicidal, and that he was going to kill himself after dropping Lina off at her mother’s. He then admits that that’s cowardly and wants to face all of his problems head-on, which Lina supports and she tells him that they’ll face it together.
Soooooo, yeah, I would say don’t marry someone that you just met. At least find out their employment situation first. Like a lot of movies we’ve seen, so many of the issues between Lina and Johnnie could have been resolved if they just talked to each other. Now, talking would not excuse all of Johnnie’s shitty behavior or anything, but Lina might not have thought he was trying to murder her. But then that’s another really good part about Suspicion: Lina is convinced that Johnnie is good and that he was not after her. But do we, as an audience, buy that too? The first time I saw this, I was convinced that Johnnie was terrible and was just making up the suicidal stuff to make Lina less suspicious. And I still think that; unsurprisingly age hasn’t exactly made me less cynical.