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The Suspect Blu-ray Review

“The Suspect” is an underappreciated classic movie.

Is 1944’s “The Suspect” a film noir, a thriller, a drama or a mixture of all 3 genres? I’ll let you decide that. However one may classify it, this Robert Siodmak directed feature set in London in the year 1902 revolves around a seemingly kind man (Philip) who is in an unhappy marriage with Cora. One day, Philip meets a young woman (Mary) seeking employment at his work and, to make a long story short, the two begin to hit it off and bond shortly thereafter. Philip wants to divorce Cora and be with Mary but Cora will have none of that. Cora dies in an alleged accident leaving Philip to live how he pleases, but questions surround her death. A nosy Inspector named Huxley looks to get to the bottom of what really happened.

I mentioned above that it’s hard to classify “The Suspect.” It doesn’t play like a traditional noir, it’s not an out and out drama (more of a character study of a man driven over the edge), and it’s not really a thriller as the viewer knows who killed Cora (and perhaps others?) so there’s no suspense in that department. One could say there’s the suspense of the killer being caught, but that’s debatable. What’s even more peculiar is that “The Suspect” is rather straight forward in telling its story. Basically, it’s a multi-genre piece that feels conventional and yet bucks conventions if that makes any sense. 

The most intriguing aspect (to me at least) is the ending. There’s no action, there’s no big catching the killer moment, there’s no big death scene in the end, and there’s no big dramatic moment. Instead, the end comes down to a character’s morals. For some this might feel anticlimactic, but it really caught my eye. It works in relation to the story and the characters, but it also shows restraint by not going for the usual finale. Kudos to writers Bertram Millhauser and Arthur T. Horman and novelist James Ronald for this bold move.

“The Suspect” also succeeds thanks to two stand-out performances. In many ways the movie lives and dies on the shoulders of Charles Laughton, but the veteran actor really makes Philip a complex and nuanced character. Ella Raines didn’t appear in a ton of movies, but she’s been nothing short of radiant in everything I’ve seen her. An underrated talent to be sure.


Presentation: 1.37:1 1080p. How does it look? This 2K master gives the film a crisp B&W print.

Audio Track: 2.0 DTS-HD MA. How does it sound? Expect a clean audio experience.

* Trailers for “The Paradine Case,” “Witness For The Prosecution,” “The Spiral Staircase,” “Cry of the City” and “So Evil My Love.”
* A passionate and informative commentary by film historian Troy Howard.

February 3, 2021 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review | , , , ,

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