Spring of Cary: Suspicion

Perhaps you can jog my memory, but I’m trying to think of that Cary Grant movie where Grant plays the debonair man whose misfortune it was to be born to a lower station than he should have been but is still a hit with the ladies with his charm and presence – especially the rich ones! Oh, that’s half of the movies Cary Grant was in? My bad! It seems to have been a winning formula for the filmmakers, and I suspect that he was a killer draw for women at the box office!

Suspicion is definitely one of the weirder movies that I’ve watched. In it, Cary Grant plays Cary Grant in a Cary Grant movie. (Or should that be Cary Grant plays “‘Cary Grant’ in a ‘Cary Grant movie'”?) By today’s standards, it would probably be labelled a “psychological thriller”. Then again, it was directed by Alfred Hitchcock, so it’s not like that’s a surprise. It takes the stereotypical Cary Grant playing Cary Grant theme and twists it round a bit without actually destroying the persona of Cary Grant completely.

Gee, what a wonderful thing it is to be Cary Grant!

The movie starts with the two main characters meeting, as strangers, in a first-class compartment of a train. Grant’s character, Johnnie Aysgarth, has a ticket for the train, but for the third-class compartment. I’m not sure exactly (I was folding clothes while I watched) but I think he swindled his future wife, Lina McLaidlaw, out of part of the difference in cost between the first and third class tickets. Johnnie is so swift about this, Lina hardly knows what has happened, and even as she starts to realize what’s going on, he uses his wiles so that she actually isn’t really bothered by it.

Love at first sight?

Lina is a rich girl, but when she catches wind that her parents are worried she’ll be a spinster forever, she’s determined to focus less on her books and more on finding a beau. Lucky for her, Johnnie is available, and he’s ridiculously good and keeping her off-kilter so that she thinks she’s madly in love and overlooks some of the red flags that start showing up.

After a very short courtship, Lina and Johnnie sneak off to get married, against the wishes of her parents. After coming back from a very expensive honeymoon to a very expensive house, complete with servants, Lina discovers, to her horror, that Johnnie is not the person that she thinks he is (or imagines he is) but that he’s a con-man, he’s lazy, he’s inconsiderate, he’s a gambler, and that there’s a very good chance he married her for her money.

From there, things just get worse. At one point, she considers leaving him, but changes her mind. She says it’s because she loves him so much, but were she to go back home, there would certainly be a lot of shame attached to that, and one can’t help but think that’s part of her consideration.

We’re caught in a trap…

Johnnie also seems to be quite interested in murder, and not only keeps up with a certain female author’s newest murder mysteries, but maintains a close friendship with the woman, as she conveniently lives in the same town as Johnnie and Lina.

Lina’s world is full of suspicion and dread. Suspicion about what Johnny’s up to – could that include murder? and dread, insofar as any day the whole house of cards could come tumbling down.

Lina gets to the point where she believes that Johnnie may want to kill her, and apparently, the original ending to the film had Johnnie poison Lina, but she wrote a letter to her mother telling her exactly what Johnnie was going to do. Come on now, what woman wouldn’t want to be poisoned by Cary Grant? I mean, how romantic! Yes, yes, I kid. The book that Suspicion was based off – Before the Fact by Francis Iles – has this ending, and Hitchcock seemed to want to stick to the book ending. However, why Hitchcock changed the ending is something that will probably always be up for debate. Hitchcock claimed, for years, that Grant’s studio wouldn’t allow Grant to sully his image by playing a murderer, and so the ending had to be changed. However, there is also a fair amount of evidence that Hitchcock’s test audiences did not like that ending very well, so a new ending was written.

Cary Grant Joan Fontaine Suspicion

Without giving too much away, the new ending is as ambiguous as a lot of the rest of the movie, because for all of Johnnie’s many faults, it’s not entirely clear that some of what Lina “sees” isn’t actually the truth, but her suspicion. That being said, Johnnie gives her plenty to be suspicious about. Some people call this ending the “happy ending”, but to me, it was as creepy as anything, because for people who have no true feeling toward others, two incredibly common ways of getting their “prey” to get back in line are through threatening suicide and telling the other person that everything is that person’s fault. I don’t know that those things would have been covered in the Child Psychology book Lina was reading on the train, though.

This movie came out in 1941 and though Wikipedia calls it an American film, it’s very British, down to the old money, which I don’t have a clue about. (Since the 1970s, British money has simply been pence and pounds, for the most part, with 100 pence to a pound, but before that, you’d almost had to be British to understand it!) I don’t suppose Hitchcock had huge amounts of money to make the movie, but I do wonder if the privations of WWII affected its making somewhat. It did seem like it lost a lot in the beginning of the story, and being based on a book, that’s also not surprising. It’s hard to say if the actors seemed awkward together because there was always supposed to be a little bit of awkwardness between them, or if both of them were just trying too hard to demonstrate their uneasiness with each other. However Joan Fontaine, who played Lina, won an Academy Award for the film, and it’s the only Oscar for acting that any of Hitchcock’s films ever won.

(The other thing that was that hearing the mid-Atlantic accents paired with the more British ones seemed to make the British ones seem less British and the “American” accents less American as well. The result was that it sounded like everybody was kind of in-between, but also not Canadian!)

Now, I shall see what the other cinema compatriots have written about this film! You should too! Lisa’s review can be found here: https://lisahoweler.com/2023/05/25/spring-of-cary-suspicion/ and Erin’s take can be found here: https://crackercrumblife.com/2023/05/25/the-spring-of-cary-grant-suspicion/

dore canto 31 white rose

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One thought on “Spring of Cary: Suspicion

  1. “Some people call this ending the “happy ending”, but to me, it was as creepy as anything, because for people who have no true feeling toward others, two incredibly common ways of getting their “prey” to get back in line are through threatening suicide and telling the other person that everything is that person’s fault.”

    YES! This is exactly what I thought! I have seen this happen first hand. The manipulation and the lie that they will kill themselves or were going to kill themselves to pull the person back into their web. That and telling the other person they are crazy by gaslighting them. “No. You were totally wrong about what you really thought was going on. Now come on, let’s head home where I can mentally abuse you even more.”

    Your opening too…so funny! Yes, that does seem to be every movie he is but this one was definitely a lot weirder than the others.

    Liked by 1 person

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