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Suspicion

Screening on Film
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock.
With Cary Grant, Joan Fontaine, Sir Cedric Hardwicke.
US, 1941, 35mm, black & white, 102 min.

One of Hitchcock’s most caustic portraits of a disintegrating marriage, Suspicion is also perhaps his purest exercise in suspense. Joan Fontaine plays the smitten wife who gradually comes to believe the worst of her charlatan husband, otherwise known as Cary Grant. Even a glass of milk becomes an object of dread in this poisonous atmosphere, an eerie and oddly beautiful revelation of terror that the surrealists might have envied. After turning down the screwball lead of Mr. and Mrs. Smith for fear of being typecast, Grant here tenders a performance in which the very qualities that made him the consummate romantic lead are cause for alarm. Hitchcock disavowed the ending’s sudden reversal, but subsequent critics have latched on to the film’s inconsistencies as being suggestive of the deeper ways in which the auteur’s work was at odds with itself.

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