Copyright 14 November 1941 by RKO-Radio. New York opening at the Radio City Music Hall: 20 November 1941. U.S. release: 14 November 1941. Australian release: 31 December 1941. 9,135 feet. 101½ minutes.
SYNOPSIS: Cad marries heiress. Cad tries to murder heiress. Does he?
NOTES: The prestigious Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' Annual Award for Best Actress went to Joan Fontaine. Also nominated for Best Picture (defeated by "How Green Was My Valley"); Music Scoring of a Dramatic Picture (lost to Bernard Herrmann's "All That Money Can Buy").
"Suspicion" was number 8 on The Film Daily's annual poll of U.S. film critics. (Mrs. Miniver was first, followed by How Green Was My Valley, King's Row, Wake Island, The Pride of the Yankees, The Man Who Came To Dinner, and One Foot In Heaven).
The New York Film Critics voted Joan Fontaine's the Best Feminine Performance of 1941.
To win her Best Actress honor, Joan Fontaine defeated her sister, Olivia de Havilland (Hold Back the Dawn), as well as Bette Davis (The Little Foxes), Greer Garson (Blossoms in the Dust), and Barbara Stanwyck (Ball of Fire).
"Francis Iles" is the pseudonym of Anthony Berkeley Cox (1893-1970), who also wrote under the name, Anthony Berkeley. "Before the Fact" is generally regarded as his masterpiece. It's a great shame it was not brought intact to the screen, but ruined by a spurious ending.
COMMENT: Did Joan Fontaine deserve her coveted award for "Suspicion"? Was she given the award because voters felt she had been unjustly edged out by Ginger Rogers' "Kitty Foyle" the previous year when she should have won for "Rebecca"? There's no question that "Rebecca" is the superior film in all respects. "Rebecca" is one of the finest movies of the forties. "Suspicion" is a cheap cheat.
Oh, "Suspicion" is well made all right. Beautifully made in fact. The camera-work dazzles, Hitchcock pulls out all stops and the cast is a wonderful who's who of British character players. Ninety-nine percent of "Suspicion" is an absolute delight. It's unfortunate that all the atmosphere, all the suspense that has been so carefully built up, is ruined by the ending. As Hitchcock himself says: "I'm not too pleased with the way Suspicion ends. I had something else in mind. The scene I wanted, but it was never shot, was for Cary Grant to bring her a glass of milk that's been poisoned and Joan Fontaine has just finished a letter to her mother: 'Dear Mother, I'm desperately in love with him, but I don't want to live because he's a killer. Though I'd rather die, I think society should be protected from him'. Then, Cary Grant comes in with the fatal glass and she says, 'Will you mail this letter to Mother for me, dear?' She drinks the milk and dies. Fade out and fade in on one short shot: Cary Grant, whistling cheerfully, walks over to the mail¬box and pops the letter in."
"Suspicion" is a fatally flawed film whichever way you look at it. My advice is to walk out just before the end. That way you can really enjoy it. And there is a lot to enjoy: Grant perfectly cast as the hollowly charming Johnnie, Fontaine (if you accept her performance at surface level) sympathetically effective, Hardwicke, Bruce and Witty contributing their usual, solidly entertaining character studies; Stradling's moodily attractive lighting; Hitchcock's tingling, suspenseful direction.