The Suspect is a 1947 British crime film directed by Alfred Hitchcock and starring Joan Fontaine and John Hodiak. The film concerns a defense attorney, played by Fontaine, who is accused of committing a murder.
1943: The year America contributed to the Allied victory in the Second World War. Millions of Americans were working to produce the tools of victory: ships, planes, tanks, weapons, uniforms and much more. While there were heroes on the battlefield, those working behind the scenes were just as important to winning the war. One of those heroes was Detective Sgt. Joe Gannon (Burt Lancaster). Joe is a deeply moral man who protects his fellow man with his life. When he is assigned to a case involving the murder of a wealthy woman, his duty takes a personal turn.
Laughton was such a great actor, and he plays an absolutely likable character, that it’s impossible not to sympathize with him. Despite these disappointing elements, the film is beautiful and the final moments are incredibly poignant and sad.
A good man in a failed marriage falls in love with a young woman. When his wife is killed in an accident, he becomes a suspect in a police investigation that suggests his wife may have been murdered.
Philip Marshall (Charles Laughton), a hard-working and resilient man, returns home every night to a woman who hates him and makes life difficult for him and his adult son. Her son is constantly mocked by his mother, so much so that he moves out of the house and barely leaves his father alone in the house. Philip moves into his son’s room, which angers his wife (played by Rosalind Ivan), and Philip complains about his life. By chance, he meets a beautiful girl named Mary (Ella Rains) who is out of luck. Philip takes pity on her and invites her to dinner to cheer her up. They enjoy each other’s company so much that they continue their relationship for several months, but Philip never tells her that he is married. He tries to get a divorce, but his resentful wife swears revenge and vows to ruin Mary’s life and reputation. Later that night, Philip’s wife dies in an accident in the house. It’s convenient, of course, but Philip doesn’t mourn her at all. He marries the love of his life, Mary, but when a stubborn and nosy Scotland Yard inspector (played by Stanley Ridges) immediately accuses Philip of murdering his wife (the film’s only flaw, in my opinion), Philip has to be careful about his next decisions. The situation becomes even more dangerous for Philip when his abusive alcoholic neighbor shows up and blackmails him by claiming to have heard him kill his wife (a false claim that Philip agrees with). When Philip kills him (so we see), his fate is sealed, for the film was made in the 1940s, at a time when the film regulator did not allow murderers in films to go unpunished.
Suspect is an excellently acted film, but is disappointing because the inspector becomes the bad guy for leaving the good guy to his own devices, but that’s how it was in movies at the time. Laughton was such a great actor, and he plays an absolutely likable character, that it’s impossible not to sympathize with him. Despite these disappointing elements, the film is beautiful and the final moments are incredibly poignant and sad. I was held in suspense the entire film and it deserves to be compared to Hitchcock. From director Robert Siodmak.
Kino Lorber’s recent Blu-ray release of Suspect is clear and includes a new audio commentary by film historian Troy Howarth, as well as trailers.
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