Hitchcock: Under “Suspicion” (1941) The Hitchcock Blogathon

It must have been an unusual life for Mrs. Hitchcock being married to a creative Filmmaker like “Hitch.”  If you can judge by her reaction in this picture, she never had a dull moment; but, perhaps, she had a lot of fun surprises.  Even in the best of marriages, there must be moments of doubt concerning the subject of trust. How can you tell if someone is telling you the truth or lying to you?  What if your intellect tells you they are lying, especially if the evidence points to them lying; yet, they vehemently deny it.

It is a is an extremely difficult situation on any level but more so when you love the lying suspect with your whole heart and soul. God help those who possess an analytical mind and put it in practice with something akin to an old Irish idiom: Don’t believe anything you hear and only half what you see!  The Master Director of mystery films and thrillers, Alfred Hitchcock, provides these questions and situations to ponder as we watch his 1941 film, Suspicion.

In this Hitchcock film, the person possibly lying is none other than the debonair, charismatic Cary Grant (Johnnie Aysgarth).  The person desperately wanting to believe his lies is the lovely, slightly naive Joan Fontaine (Lina Mclaidlaw Aysgarth), his wife.

IMG_0338

Lina, who lacks confidence in herself as an attractive woman along with being painfully shy, accidentally meets a man too good to be true. She finds herself falling madly in love. This begins as handsome Johnnie shows up in her first class train compartment with his third class train ticket. She never met anyone like him before.

IMG_0327

This is the first film out of three Hitchcock films that Grant plays the lead. According to Grant, it was going to be the last movie too.  He didn’t like how his character was handled; and, he thought Hitch gave more attention to Fontaine.  She won an academy award for her performance.  This picture was nominated for an Oscar for Best Picture too.

 

I love the way this movie starts with a pitch black screen. Then, you hear a train whistle.  Then, the audience hears Grant’s voice apologizing for kicking a leg.  You hear him say, I didn’t mean to hurt you.  Nothing like a bit of foreshadowing by Hitchcock.  It is dark because the train is going through a tunnel; but, once the train is through it, the light reveals a bookish, nerdy kind of young lady wearing glasses (Lina) sitting alone in a compartment. She is staring, in amazement, at the uncouthness of Cary Grant (Johnnie). This sets the mood for this entire movie…The audience is in the dark and never sure what to believe.

 

This is their first meeting.  The porter checks the tickets and discovers Johnnie (Grant) has a third class ticket; yet, he is in a first class compartment.  He didn’t have enough money to upgrade his ticket.  He asks book girl if she has any extra change.  Again, her jaw drops.  As she fumbles for some money, he sees a postage stamp in her hand.  He takes it and gives it to the porter and says to him: it is legal tender. Now, go and mail a letter.

Later, he sees Lina atop a nervous horse at an equestrian event.  When her horse rears up on its hind legs, she skillfully reins him in; and, he settles down. She is clearly enjoying her ride upon this spirited horse. Johnnie can hardly believe it is the same girl on the train.  He asks his lady companions who she is. They know her and are a bit negative in their comments of her.  You know how jealous some women can be. The ladies decides to introduce Johnnie to her with a visit.  They ask her to join them for Sunday church services.

IMG_0334

Lina meets Johnnie and his groupies for church.  As she is about to go in, Johnnie holds her back.  He asks, You really don’t want to go to Church service? Do you?  Lina tries to pull away, Johnnie is stronger. He tells her they will toss a coin and decide whether to go inside with the others. He tosses a coin.  Head or tails, you just know that he will win. When the rest of the group notices the two missing, they look back but see nothing.

Next, we see another Hitchcock foreshadowing. There is a couple, in the distance, on a hill. They are physically struggling against one another. At first, I thought he was going to toss her over a cliff.  As the camera comes closer, we can see it is Johnnie and Lina. Lina can’t shake him off her. Then, Johnnie says, Why are you fighting me?  Did you think I was going to kiss you?  Lina replies: Yes! Why else would you try to put your arms around me.  Johnnie said he was trying to fix her hair. You know this is total nonsense.  Then, he plays with her hair and puts it in the most ridiculous styles. Which is actually pretty funny.

IMG_0326

Later, when they reach her house, they overhear through an open window, Lina’s mother and father talking about her being a spinster and how her father must leave her a fortune to live on. You can see the hurt in Lina’s face. As she turns away to leave, she sees Johnnie looking over her shoulder. She does not hesitate.  She wraps her arms around his neck and  passionately kisses him, full mouth. Then, she runs into the house.

Of course she cannot help herself. He has given her more attention, in the space of an hour, than she had ever had in her whole life from the opposite sex.  Besides, he is charming, witty, and so visually pleasing to the eyes. He convinces her that he has noted her peculiarities, and what’s more, he really likes how her uniqueness is packaged.  Really, what’s not to love? But, is he telling the truth?

Throughout this movie, we ask ourselves these questions, just like the heroine, Lina.  We really want Johnnie to be honest with her because they are both so likable and sweetly flawed. Does she see warning signs along the way that Johnnie may not be totally honest with her? Is he a pure selfish cad? Or is he a newbie with this whole “trust thing” and he’s just bumbling along?  Of course, she sees the signs. Like many people in love, she believes her mate, Cary Johnnie; even though, he has no job (most playboys/players do not have a job); and, he has acquired massive gambling debits. However, he appears to be so in love with Lina; that he promises to stop gambling and to get a job.

IMG_0416

Besides, Johnnie thinks Lina’s rich Daddy, General Mclaidlaw (Cecil Hardwicke) will give them an expensive wedding gift…Maybe a house or a lump sum of money?  With this in mind, they go on an expensive honeymoon. Since his investments seem to be going no where, Johnnie gets a job from his cousin, Melbeck  However, money turns up missing.  He tells Johnnie if he replaces the money, he will not call the police.  Desperate, Johnnie takes the wedding gift (two antique, heirloom chairs) from his father-in-law and sells them. Lina finds out and is so upset that Johnnie brings the chairs back.

 

When the General dies, the only inheritance he left Lina was his portrait.  Johnnie’s finances are drying up. Then, Johnnie’s best mate, dear amicable, Beaky (Nigel Bruce) shows up to invest in Johnnie’s failed financial adventure in land development.  Lina likes Beaky; and, she tries to talk him out of investing.  When Johnnie finds out she tries to talk Beaky out of investing, he warns her to stay out of his business. Later, he tells her he called off the deal with Beaky.  Instead, he travels with Beaky to London and from there Beaky travels alone to Paris for a business deal.

IMG_0273

However, during these series of unlucky financial events, Lina begins to feel ill most of the time.  A neighbor who writes murder mysteries told her that Johnnie was asking her questions about which poisons are undetectable. Johnnie insists on bringing her a glass of milk before bedtime. Hitchcock brilliantly films Grant carrying the glass of milk up the stairs, in the shadows, with web like shapes running throughout the scene…Oh! What a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive (Sir Walter Scott).

Then tragedy strikes. Beaky turns up dead in Paris, and no one can find the money he bought with him for the business deal. Lina begins to do more than suspect her lovely, charming husband. She now fears him. With everyone around her is telling her not to trust him, Johnnie vehemently claims his love for her and he is telling her the truth. He demands that she should believe him. He is ready to leave if she wishes it; but, he will be heartbroken for the rest of his life if he isn’t loved by her anymore. Lina wants to leave and visit her mother.  Johnnie angrily insists that he drive her. This isn’t good.

IMG_0418

Of course, I  not going to tell you how it ends.  You have to enjoy it for yourself. However, I will tell you that in the book, Before The Fact (1932), the author, Frances Ike, made Johnnie’s character much more sinister.  He even had a baby with the maid. In the British version of this movie, Lina is indeed murdered by Johnnie. Luckily, for us, this film is in the capable hands of Hitchcock. The creative Mr Hitchcock has a surprise for his audience in this version.  Also, like Stan Lee in the Marvel comics, he always does a cameo.  Look for him in the scene. It’s about 45 minutes into the movie.  He is mailing a letter at the village post office.   Also, people claims he pulled a horse in front of the camera just before Grant is seen at the equestrian event. I hope you watch it or watch it again.  It truly is a great classic.

This is an entry for The Alfred Hitchcock Blogathon hosted by Maddie Loves Classic Films.  You can read other posts on Hitchcock film using the following link:

https://maddylovesherclassicfilms.wordpress.com/2017/08/05/the-alfred-hitchcock-blogathon-day-2/#like-6815

IMG_0319

James Bond Blogathon: The Living Daylights

The Living Daylights (1987) is my favorite Bond movie. Of course, every Bond movie is a cinematic treat. They all have powerful musical scores playing in the background of exotic locations with super sexy men and women who are clothed in stunning garments and costumes. The action includes edgy and exciting chase scenes that are inspired by a unique, ultra villain who has a mission to harm the world.  The gadgets and fascinating technology is a science nerd’s dream.  Bond movies are fully loaded with adrenaline packed delights.

Bonds-Clean-DI-to-CW

From Sir Sean Connery to Daniel Craig, the Bond men are handsome, charismatic, witty, and deadly.  They all prefer coffee over tea, dry Vodka martinis, shaken not stirred, drive an some version of an Aston-Martin, answers to M, flirts with the female population, gets lectured from Q, are highly intelligent, willing risk takers, professional killers, and extremely complex human beings.

As a younger woman, I did not appreciate the Bond movies as much as my male friends and partners. I was especially uncomfortable with the some of the humor aimed at woman. The jokes I am referring to had nothing to do with what they done; instead, these jokes were aimed at all women, in general.  For instant, many women are given some of the dumbest/sexist names ever created: Pussy Galore, Chew Mee, Holly Goodhead, Xenia Onatop, Miss Moneypenny and more.

Let’s just say I enjoyed Bond movies for the most part but endured some aspects of them. Even so, there is one Bond movie that completely changed my perspective of all Bond films, forever. In 1986, I read an article about the new, improved Bond, Timothy Dalton, in the latest Bond movie, The Living Daylights. 

Personally, I think Timothy Dalton is the best Bond ever, if there is such a thing as a “Best Bond.”  Even though, he only starred in two of the 24 Bond movies: The Living Daylights (1987) and Licence To Kill (1989), his Bond is nearly perfect when compared to Ian Fleming’s book version of 007.  Fleming wrote 14 novels centered on MI6’s favorite spy.  The Living Daylights is the second short story in a collection of short stories, Octopussy is the first. It is also the last Bond story written by Fleming and many critics consider it his best story too. It first appeared in a magazine in 1962.  Later, it was published as part of a collection of stories in 1966.   It was printed two years after Fleming had died.  There is an excellent audio version of these collected stories narrated by Tom Hiddleston (Lokey in Thor).

9781481508919#=

I believe some actors are born to play certain roles; and, Dalton was destined to play Bond.  He is an accomplished stage, film and television actor. He first caught the eye of Eon Productions (producers of Bond movies) in 1968 during the time when Connery was wishing to retire from making Bond movies. They were interested in Dalton as Bond after they saw him in a movie with Peter O’Toole (Henry II) and Katherine Hepburn (Eleanor of Aquitaine), The Lion in The Winter (1968).  Dalton played Phillip II who was the ex-lover of Richard The Lionhearted played by Sir Anthony Hopkins.

 

Twenty four year old Dalton could not see himself replacing Connery. Following Connery would be a bit intimidating for any actor; but, Dalton felt he was too young to play the part well. Dalton also claimed Connery was far too good and wonderful to successfully replace as Bond.  In addition, Dalton was an avid fan of Fleming’s books; and, his perception of Bond was different from the producers. Eventually, the Bond they hired was George Lazenby for On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969).

As luck would have it, Dalton was considered again for James Bond in 1979; but, after Connery and Moore’s portrayal of Bond, Dalton didn’t like the direction the producers had taken Bond’s character. Dalton didn’t think they were seriously looking for a “new” James Bond. Again, he refused.

It must be true when people say about the third time is a charm. When Pierce Brosnan was not allowed out of his Remington Steele contract to play Bond, Dalton was asked a third time to be the next Bond. Thankfully, he accepted with the hopes of putting the original book Bond on the screen.

So, in the 15th Bond movie produced by Eon Productions, Timothy Dalton brings a critically acclaimed Bond to the screen. Dalton and Flemings’ Bond was much more serious and darker. This Bond was a reluctant agent who didn’t relish his assignments.  At times, he even questioned and refused to fellow orders.  This Bond was in the burnt out stage of his career.  Dalton was so dedicated to doing right by his character that it was reported that he was often seen on set, between takes, re-reading and referencing the novels. Dalton’s Bond had an edgier, darker humor that reflected his suffering as a tired killing machine.

Internationally, the movie was a box office hit.  It bought in the fourth largest profit for a Bond movie at the time. Yet, it failed in the box offices across the United States. Some people blamed it on the marketing and changing the title to License Revoked.  Others blamed it on the major movie releases. That year Bond was up against Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade with Sean Connery, Tim Burton’s Batman, and Mel Gibson in Lethal Weapon II.  More importantly, the reason for the poor box office results might have been the public’s perception of the new Bond. There was much publicity concerning the new Bond being more sensitive and politically correct when it came to women. This was interpreted to mean that sexy women, as the eye candy, in little or nothing outfits, was going to cease in the new Bond format.  In the eyes of the average American male, Bond had been neutered.  What kind of guy wants to see that?

 

In Dalton’s movie there is romance; however, it was not the gratuitous sex with multi-partners of earlier films.  Remember, in 1986, the AIDS scare was at its highest level. People were becoming more cautious and more selective in sexual partners and insisted on safe sex, even James Bond.  According to Bond Facts, James Bond has killed 370 people and slept with 55 women in 22 movies. Oddly, Bond might be having safer sex; but, the last two Bonds are more violent (Brosnan) and drinking more (Craig).

1350950853-0

Dalton was contracted to do three Bond films.  He did the second movie, License To Kill (1990). But, after the second movie and for nearly five years, Eon Productions was tied up in legal battles.  Dalton decided it had been too long and during contractual renegotiating, he made the decision to retired as Bond. Pierce Brosnan who was finally free from his television contract, was hired as the next James Bond.

I really liked the Bond in The Living Daylights.  This “new” older and hopefully wiser Bond realistic sense.  In one of the earlier scenes, located in Berlin, Bond is waiting to kill a KGB sharp shooter. This KGB agent has an ingenious cover. She, Kara Milovy (Maryam d’Abo), is a cellist in the National Soviet Orchestra. She is sent to kill a defector, General Georgian Koskov (Jeroen Krabbe) who is trying to escape to the West and to freedom.  As Bond studies his cellist mark, he is urged to shoot her by another MI6 agent. In a split second, he decides not to kill the shooter.  Instead, he disobey orders and shoots the shooter’s weapon which allowed the defector to escape. The other British agent is “flipping out” that Bond refused to kill the KGB sharp shooter.  He even accuses Bond of refusing to shoot because the KGB shooter was a beautiful musican. Of course, he informs Bond he is reporting him to the Home Office. Bond doesn’t joke. He is emotionless and simply could care less. He continues his mission by escorting the Soviet General into Austria through an oil pipe line tank.

Later, we learn  that as Bond studied his mark, he noted that the “professional killer” is not holding the weapon properly and probably couldn’t hit the side of the building, let alone some running man at a distance and height that would challenge the best marksman.  Bond didn’t know why she had the gun; but, he knew she didn’t know one end from the other and was definitely not KGB.

Although Bond, rescues the defecting Soviet General Koskov, he is remarkably recaptured from MI6. Bond sets out to find answers and starts with the beautiful cellist.  Once he locates her, he realizes her life is in danger too. Surprisingly, she claims she was helping her boyfriend, General Koskov, to escape by shooting bullets in the wrong direction. Bond knows that she was set up to be killed by her boyfriend.

As this story evolves, Bond comes across gun dealers and the Taliban. Historical note****This movie was made at the time when the U.S.  was friends with the Taliban and supplying them with weapons to fight the Russians.  All the elements of a great Bond movie is here, including a sweet romance with only one woman.  If you haven’t seen this Bond movie, I urge you too.

This post has been part of The 007 Blogathon  hosted by Maddy Loves Her Classic Films. To read more Bond posts please use the link below.

https://maddylovesherclassicfilms.wordpress.com/2017/07/20/the-007-blogathon-begins/#like-6667

bond-blogathon-2

Theme Song to the Living Daylights performed by A-Ha

References:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timothy_Dalton

http://jamesbondkillcount.blogspot.com