Suspicion is one of the few Hitchcock films that I had never seen until recently. Was it not available on DVD? I’m not sure why I had never seen this movie. It’s also a film that doesn’t seem to elicit a lot of conversation on this site when discussing Hitch’s body of work which I don’t quite understand because I loved it. I loved Joan Fontaine in this and in Rebecca. However, on viewing the special feature that came with the DVD it was revealed that Suspicion did not end the way Hitch had originally intended. For those who have seen it, you know that it ended on somewhat of a positive note. But with Hitch’s twisted sense of humor, the ending that he wanted was much darker (and I think much better).
Hitchcock’s original ending;
At the end of the film, Joan Fontaines character realizes that her husband is trying to kill her by poisoning pretty much the way that the film now exists. But instead of being mistaken, he actually is trying to poison her. In that amazing scene of Cary Grant ascending the stairs to bring her the glass of milk, Joan Fontaine is simultaneously writing a letter to her mother explaining her husbands evil intentions. As he reaches the bedroom, she seals and stamps the letter and asks her husband to place it in the mail. After he leaves, she knowingly drinks the poison and seals her fate. The final scene would have shown Cary Grant whistling his way to the mailbox and dropping the letter inside. The audience is left with the knowledge that this is how he will be caught.
That ending would have drastically changed the entire film. Not just in the sense that Grant would have been a murderer and Joan Fontaines character would have been snuffed out, but also in how every scene up to that point is viewed. I think it would have made it a far more interesting movie. In the special feature it was said that they wouldn’t allow that ending (I’m assuming that they were the studio heads) because they couldn’t allow Cary Grant to be a murderer. I think that if Hitch had his way and ended Suspicion as he pleased, this film would be considered among his greatest works, if it isn’t already.
Have you seen Suspicion? Do you think that this ending would have made the film better?
I love Suspicion, it just barely beats out Rear Window for my affections. ;) While the existing ending is more ‘positive’ than the original, I’ve always felt it was slightly ambiguous [maybe on purpose?]. Grant doesn’t seem too convincing to me, when he admits that he was planning on SPOILER killing himself, as opposed to the rest of the film. And the way it ends leaves open the possibility that Fontaine has now convinced herself that Grant will do nothing, but does not show anything beyond that.
I admit though that the alternate is really interesting & it’s a shame it doesn’t exist today, as a possible ‘alternate’ viewing of the film. :)
This film is a prime example of how using stars, especially during the production code era, could be a double-edged sword. Vertigo suffers from a similar situation, though with less drastic results. Not wanting leading men like Grant and Stewart to be evil men, the stars ultimately end up compromising these pictures in the end. But, without them it would be difficult to convey the same amount of suspense and terror with lesser known actors.
Suspicion is a pretty good movie though, and I think that the ending we do have offers some interesting explorations. By making Grant innocent, we are able to examine the nature of suspicion more directly. We can see that suspicion as a feeling or sentiment isn’t based on facts and realities (though it may be in the end), but rather on circumstantial evidence. We don’t know, but we think we know, and we suspect that if we could just happen upon the right piece of evidence, we would be able to vindicate our suspicions.
Even before I knew the intended ending, the ending of the film seemed false. As a result, I’ve always considered Suspicion to be minor Hitchcock. Its all done better elsewhere – Joan Fontaine’s vulnerability in Rebecca and Cary Grant’s moral ambiguity in Notorious.
Nathan, I’m not sure I see where Jimmy Stewart’s role in Vertigo was a parallel. Scotty was never meant to be an outright villain, but the creepy obsession he does demonstrate seems uncompromised and a major strength of that film.
I’m completely with Brad S. on the topic of Suspicion. I saw it in my early teens at a time I thought Hitchcock could do no wrong and felt completely cheated by the final twist, even though I didn’t know at the time of the original planned ending. I thought it was a totally unconvincing cop-out and to this day consider Suspicion a minor Hitchcock just because of it.
As for James Stewart as a “villain” in Vertigo, I suppose Nathan means that in the original novel SPOILER the main character kills the woman when he discovers her deception, while in the movie he ’accidentally" loses her.
Fatal is correct; I am referring to the ending of the novel. I should have been more clear on that point. I’ve always felt cheated by the last 15 seconds of Vertigo, because the accidental fall from the bell tower seemed like a huge cop-out. But, I still love the movie as a whole. I should also be clear on another point. I too consider Suspicion to be a minor Hitchcock, but I still think the current ending is interesting in it’s own right. The real problem with Suspicion, for me, is that the film is too simple, no matter what ending you choose.
i HATED the ending
and the film wasnt one of his best anyway…just about OKAY.
“suspicion” is definitely second-tier hitch, at best. theres just not much emotion in the film. its very bland.
For those who feel this is second-tier Hitch, do you think that Hitchcock’s intended ending of the film would have changed that? Bobby, I think there was emotion in the film on first viewing but knowing that Grant’s character is innocent of murder in the end kind of washes that emotion/suspense down the drain where it cannot be retrieved. I think that final scene with Grant whistling to the mailbox would have made this among his best. Or do you feel that there are other problems with the film?
Soybean, I do think the alternate ending would have been a significant improvement, but even then I couldn’t put it on the same level of Psycho, Vertigo and Notorious. More on the level of Saboteur or The Man Who Knew Too Much. Maybe I actually consider Suspicion 3rd tier Hitch.
Relax, sit back and enjoy the show. “Suspicion” is a comedy, that contains a joke on the audience, but I dare say the audience wants the joke to be played on it. After all, we all fear with the wife that Grant’s character is guilty, and at the same time hope with her that he should be innocent. At some point in the film there’s no doubt that he is a killer, so a dialectical move from antitheses to synthesis (or back to slightly altered theses) is expected. A bad ending would’ve let everybody down.
I agree that the sudden resurrection of the husband makes us examine the nature of suspicion. In a broader sense the main theme is the nature of our perception of others and how it affects their behavior — and how their behavior in return affects our perceptions. The optimistic ending shows that it runs both ways: the fears of the female protagonist change the male protagonist for the worse, her love and devotion (if you permit me to be old-fashioned) save him. With a little help from the Auteur, that is. :)
It’s a good film…but I just didn’t believe the ending.
Now reading Hitchcock’s original ending I really wish that they had kept that in the film.
I believed that Cary Grant was going to kill her…to spend the whole film presenting him as a murderer and then to just change that at the last minute was really annoying. The fact that there were no hints during the entire film that he was suicidal really made his ‘story’ at the end seem weak and unbelievable…and for me that’s what holds this film back from being great.
It’s a clumsy experiment in suspense. Hitch would perfect the formula later. File this one away under his flawed films (and not even among the great flawed ones).
Not one of my favorite Hitchcocks, but the light in the glass of milk was a genius touch.
Forget the milk, look at the rest of that shot! It’s a masterpiece of surreal expressionism.
Anyone actually read Francis Iles’ BEFORE THE FACT? A very interesting, slippery little book. The ending of the novel is probably unfilmable, as it leaves just way too much up in the air.
I think Joan Fontaine is excellent in this…even better than in Rebecca. She was wildly underrated in the shadow of her more highly regarded sister. She gave quite a few good performance in a relatively short period of time (1940-1950). Olivier was highly complimentary of her.