Joan Fontaine gives a splendid, Oscar-winning performance in Suspicion, but this 1941 Alfred Hitchcock film falls apart during its much-debated ending. Based on the novel Before the Fact by Francis Iles (pseudonym of Anthony Berkeley) and adapted for the screen by Samson Raphaelson, Joan Harrison (Hitchcock's assistant), and Alma Reville (Hitchcock's wife), Suspicion stars Fontaine as a spinsterish young woman who revolts against her parents by marrying a spendthrift playboy (played perfectly by Cary Grant). As Grant leads their marriage and his own gambling debts into a crisis situation, Fontaine begins to suspect that her beloved husband might be capable of murder -- perhaps even her own. The suspense builds perfectly around the two characters in typical Hitchcock style before running aground in the stunted finish. The final act went through numerous script changes between the director, the writers, and RKO Pictures -- which refused to let Grant be cast as a killer. The result is a hasty conclusion written just prior to shooting that fails to satisfy. Hitchcock's preferred ending had Grant killing Fontaine with poisoned milk, but not before she has him post a letter that implicates him in the crime. Ironically, Hitchcock faced the same studio interference with Ivor Novello's character in 1926's The Lodger, a fight he also lost. The director's cameo has him mailing a letter at the post office about midway through the film.
by Patrick Legare review