Film Review – SUSPICION (1941)

SUSPICION (1941, USA) ****
Mystery, Thriller
dist. RKO Radio Pictures; pr co. RKO Radio Pictures; d. Alfred Hitchcock; w. Samson Raphaelson, Joan Harrison, Alma Reville (based on the novel “Before the Fact” by Anthony Berkeley (as Francis Iles)); pr. Harry E. Edington; ph. Harry Stradling (B&W. 35mm. Spherical. 1.37:1); m. Franz Waxman; ed. William Hamilton; ad. Van Nest Polglase; rel. 9 November 1941 (USA), December 1941 (UK); BBFC cert: PG; r/t. 99m.
cast: Cary Grant (Johnnie), Joan Fontaine (Lina), Cedric Hardwicke (General McLaidlaw), Nigel Bruce (Beaky), May Whitty (Mrs. McLaidlaw), Isabel Jeans (Mrs. Newsham), Heather Angel (Ethel [Maid]), Auriol Lee (Isobel Sedbusk), Reginald Sheffield (Reggie Wetherby), Leo G. Carroll (Captain Melbeck).
Grant plays the charming scoundrel Johnnie Aysgarth and woos the wealthy but plain Lina McLaidlaw (Fontaine), who elopes with him despite the warnings of her disapproving father (Hardwicke). After their marriage, Johnnie’s risky financial ventures cause Lina to suspect he’s becoming involved in unscrupulous dealings. When his dear friend and business partner, Beaky (Bruce), dies under suspicious circumstances on a business trip, she fears her husband might kill her for her inheritance. Hitchcock deftly manages the light and dark tones of the story, as does Waxman’s score and Stradling’s photography. Grant is perfect for his role and convincing in portraying the ambiguity of the character. Fontaine’s performance may seem mannered today, but it was enough to win her a best actress Oscar. A good support cast is headed by the stern Hardwicke and the bumbling Bruce. Lee also scores as an Agatha Christie-styled mystery writer. The film builds in suspense toward its rushed climax, which the studio notoriously interfered in. Remade as a TV Movie in 1987.
AA: Best Actress in a Leading Role (Joan Fontaine)
AAN: Best Picture; Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic Picture (Franz Waxman)

Film Review – ONLY ANGELS HAVE WINGS (1939)

Only Angels Have Wings (1939; USA; B&W; 121m) ∗∗∗∗  d. Howard Hawks; w. Jules Furthman; ph. Joseph Walker; m. Dimitri Tiomkin.  Cast: Cary Grant, Jean Arthur, Richard Barthelmess, Rita Hayworth, Thomas Mitchell, Allyn Joslyn, Sig Ruman, Victor Kilian, John Carroll, Donald Barry, Noah Beery Jr., Maciste, Milisa Sierra, Lucio Villegas, Pat Flaherty, Pedro Regas, Pat West. At a remote South American trading port, the manager of an air freight company is forced to risk his pilots’ lives in order to win an important contract. Classic Hawks film uses themes of comradeship and bravery spiced with a love interest. A character piece with an episodic plot, it coasts on the strong performances of its impressive cast. Grant plays the boss, who won’t let his feelings get in the way of seeing the job through and Arthur is the show girl who turns the heads of his pilot crew. Hayworth is also memorable as Grant’s former girl who has taken up with Barthelmess – a pilot with a dark secret. Hawks would later finesse the formula in RIO BRAVO. [U]