The Suspect

His Was a Strange Secret, Hers Was a Strange Love

Drama
85 min     6.1     1944     USA

Overview

Genial shopkeeper Philip has to endure the constant nagging of a shrewish wife (Rosalind Ivan) while he secretly yearns for a pretty young stenographer. When the henpecking gets to be too much, Philip murders his wife and manages to make her death look like an accident. A ruthless blackmailer and a low-key detective both discover Philip's secret, and he has to decide which of them poses the more dangerous threat.

Reviews

John Chard wrote:
Anodyne affected affairs of the heart. The Suspect is directed by Robert Siodmak and adapted to screenplay by Bertram Millhauser and Arthur T. Horman from the novel "This Way Out" written by James Ronald. It stars Charles Laughton, Ella Raines, Dean Harens, Stanley Ridges, Henry Daniell and Rosalind Ivan. Music is by Frank Skinner and cinematography by Paul Ivano. In 1902 Edwardian London, unhappily married shopkeeper Philip Marshall (Laughton) meets beautiful Mary Gray (Raines) and a tender friendship begins to form. But once Philip's wife discovers what is going on she threatens him with exposure and scandal, forcing Philip to take drastic action... How delightfully off, that a film that features a wife murderer, an alcoholic wife beater, and blackmail, should be so restrained and actually beautiful. The Suspect in principal is about a decent man pushed to do bad things by his awful life, a man who then finds hope springs from a most unlikely source. The moral shadings here are most intricate, Laughton's Philip Marshal is a completely sympathetic and fascinating character, and so the makers deftly toy with our perceptions in the process. There's no mystery element to drive the story forward, we are only really left wondering how the finale will play out. However, the lack of mystery is not a problem, for the astute and wily Siodmak has a keen eye for suspense and he knows how to use gaslight interiors and foggy streets to represent the psychological turmoil of Philip and his life that's now drastically changing. Murder as justifiable homicide? Ridding the world of bad people is OK? Rest assured that this is far darker than it appears on the surface. Brilliantly performed by Laughton and Raines, and mounted with great atmospheric skill by Siodmak, The Suspect is a little seen gem waiting to be found by a wider audience. 8/10

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