**½/**** Image A Sound B Extras B
starring Cary Grant, Joan Fontaine, Sir Cedric Hardwicke, Nigel Bruce
screenplay by Samson Raphaelson, Joan Harrison and Alma Reville
directed by Alfred Hitchcock
by Walter Chaw In truth, watching any of Alfred Hitchcock's American films is like hearing the voice of your master. So it is even with 1941's Suspicion: Probably the most compromised of Hitchcock's major pictures, it nevertheless sports a trio of sequences that rank among his best. An early flirtation between Cary Grant's layabout playboy Johnnie Aysgarth and Joan Fontaine's unlikely take on a dowdy spinster, for instance, looking for all the world like a rape and featuring brilliant, Lubitsch-esque purse-play, is as dense a five minutes as whole pictures. (The second virtuoso sequence involves a staircase and a glass of milk lit from inside the liquid while the third is a fantasy that transforms laughter into the howls of a dying man.) So coy and hesitating that it's a lot like courting a eunuch, Suspicion is not easy to like, but it does offer a glimpse of what's possible within a studio system that won't allow one of its marquee players to play a villain. The picture gives lie to the idea that creative people suddenly lose their creativity when they move to Hollywood: It's still there, it just goes (in this case, deep) underground.