The Spring of Cary Grant – Suspicion

So when Lisa at Boondock Ramblings told me she was going to do a Spring of Cary Grant, I knew I wanted in on it. She introduced me to the legend that is Grant last fall, and I am woefully behind on his films. So I am tagging along on her journey, posting along with her as well.

This is double Cary week for me, since I got behind on the actual blogging part! But hey, look at me on time this week! Woohoo!

This week’s feature was Suspicion, directed by Alfred Hitchcock and starring Cary Grant and Joan Fontaine. Warning: This post will more than likely include some spoilers.

This was Grant like I had never seen him before, as a villain rather than a hero. And he played the role insanely well.

Johnnie Aysgarth (Grant) and Lina McLaidlaw (Fontaine) meet by “chance” on a train. I have that in quotes because by the end of the movie I was suspicious of everything that had happened! Johnnie sweets talks Lina into covering the rest of his first class ticket as he only has a third class ticket but has moved into her train car. Lina is sort of bookish, which we know because they constantly remind us of this by showing her wearing glasses and being very meek. Lina becomes instantly enamored of the charming Johnnie, and has a hard core crush. She sees him a week later at a hunt, he sees her, he pursues her, much like the hounds do the foxes, driving her from her den, where she is quietly reading and he arrives with some pushy society ladies and they all go to church. But then they actually don’t. Johnnie and Lina go for a walk, where he unbuttons her top button (whoa what the heck) and she gets a little feisty. Good for you girl. He also decides he is going to call her “monkey face” and does the entire movie. I don’t think I would like to be constantly called “monkey face” as a term of endearment. I think that is just part of his cruelty and gaslighting that will be more evident later in the movie.

Unfortunately, Johnnie’s flash and winning ways continue to encircle her and when he leaves for a week, she practically stalks him, calling all over to try to talk to him, begging the post office if they have a message for her. Like, get some chill honey. Ultimately though Johnnie returns and meets up with her at her father’s ball and they get married.

After a whirlwind honeymoon they return to their new home which is all fancy and updated, and frankly, uggo. I loved her family home, but her new one is ew. Lina quickly learns that her new husband who she is completely infatuated with is in fact, broke. No job, no money. But that is ok, because we don’t judge on that. Except, Johnnie is a gambler, who loves the races.

His good friend Beaky shows up and Lina learns from him that Johnnie is a good time guy, very entertaining, and a very accomplished liar. Lina eventually decides she likes Beaky after being a little put off him at first by his comments regarding Johnnie – mainly because she learns Beaky is telling the truth about Johnnie.

She has learned some unsettling facts about her Johnnie – he is a gambler, a liar, and now, he has sold her family heirloom chairs that were a wedding gift from her super rich dad. Later, she also learns that Johnnie was fired from his job because he embezzled, but won’t be prosecuted if he can pay his ex-employer (and cousin!) back the money. Lina is determined to leave Johnnie over this, but after writing a “Dear Johnny” letter, tears it up instead. At this moment, Johnnie walks in and Lina learns the horrible news that her father is dead. A little while later, Johnnie learns the horrible news that they were not left any money, only a gigantic portrait of the General himself.

Johnnie needs to still come up with the money to avoid prosecution. He talks his friend Beaky into a speculative land scheme, which Lina tries to talk Beaky out of later. Johnnie hears and gets really angry with Lina over it, obviously. However, she gives him the benefit of the doubt again. Then Johnnie calls it off anyway, and Beaky and Johnnie go to London together. A few days later, Beaky ends up mysteriously dead. The circumstances make Lina go hmm, especially after she is visited by inspectors inquiring into the death – they don’t suspect Johnnie, but she sure does.

It was here that Billy and I couldn’t stop seeing the web that Lina is in. Literally. The light and shadows in the shots form a web on the walls, on the floor, and once you see it, you can’t unsee it. It follows Lina and Johnnie everywhere, giving everything a much more ominous framing, like it needed to be more ominous. Lina discovers something that makes her fear for her own life, and when Johnnie brings her a glass of milk before bed, she doesn’t drink it. That scene, that shot, of Grant coming up the stairs with the milk is so freaky and so simple. Pure magic there. (also, see the web?)

The next morning, the glass is still there, undrunk, on the nightstand, but Lina is packing her bags to get the heck out of dodge. Johnnie finds her packing and despite her trying to convince him she is just going to visit her mom for a bit because her nerves need it, and he gets super mad. He tells her her will drive her and she is like no no, I can do it, but he insists.

So there they are, racing along the cliffs at high speeds. Grant reaches over, fiddles with her door. We see shots of how close they are to the edge, how one good push and Lina could go flying from the car and down the cliffside into the water and her certain death. It gets all creepy and intense and what is going to happen and Johnny swerves the car at the last minute and then there is chaos, the door is open, they are struggling – then next we know, Johnnie pulls the car over and they argue and Johnnie instead confesses he was going to take her to her mom’s and then go home and commit suicide. He tells her that he has since decided that it is the cowards way out, and tells her all sorts of things, like how he was in Liverpool when Beaky died, and gives an explanation to her about the final straw that sent her packing. She believes him, they get back in the car, head back to their home, driving off into the sunset.

And that’s it. That is the end.

We are left to decide what Johnnie is really like. Is he just a wastrel, a scoundrel, a liar, a cheat and a thief? Or is he a murderer too? Was he trying to kill Lina? Or was he trying to save her? Like I said, I looked back at all of his movements throughout the film with new eyes after a certain point in the movie, and thought to myself, did he kill her dad? I fully believed he was capable of murder. Billy however thinks Johnnie was just a jerkwad but not a murderer. (I think Billy might need to up his intuition regarding danger, quite frankly!)

I loved this movie. I loved seeing a different side of Grant, the dark side. His acting was impeccable, leaving so much room for doubt in the audience’s mind about his character. Fontaine was fantastic as well. Overall, a winner in my book.

Although I would never have gotten back in that car. I can guarantee that.

For Lisa’s thoughts, jump on over here! For Katja’s, visit her here!