For Reel

The Suspect (1944)
August 31, 2015, 5:58 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Robert Siodmak
3.5 Stars
The SuspectCharles Laughton gives one of his finest performances as the warmhearted tobacconist driven to murder in The Suspect. Bertram Millhauser’s screenplay often rehashes Philip Marshall’s (Laughton) very ordinariness–in the opening sequences set in Edwardian London (on “an unpretentious street with a pretentious name”), Marshall greets his neighbors with pleasant chatter about the weather and lovingly wishes his son (Dean Harens) off as he leaves the nest. Naturally, when it is surmised that Marshall is the prime suspect in the murder of his domineering wife (Rosalind Ivan), an investigator of Scotland Yard (Stanley Ridges) muses that he is, “not a killer by nature, but a man like you and I.” Director Robert Siodmak’s obsession with failed heroes turning to extreme actions is illustrated brilliantly in Laughton’s portrayal, where his dormant rage unburdens itself in moments that appear to startle even Laughton himself. Released a year before Fritz Lang’s Scarlett Street, The Suspect similarly demonstrates a fascination with what could lead an essentially decent man to crime. As Laughton warns early in the picture, “It’s the first step that counts, after that it all becomes too easy.”

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