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In 1902 London, unhappily married Philip Marshall meets young Mary Gray, who is unemployed and depressed. Their deepening friendship, though physically innocent, is discovered by Philip's wife who threatens him with exposure and scandal, driving him to kill her. Thereafter, fortune seems to smile on Philip Marshall; but does fate have a surprise in store? Written by
Rod Crawford <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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 when hope then springs from an unlikely source. The moral shadings here are most intricate, Laughton's Philip Marshal is a completely sympathetic and fascinating character, the makers deftly toying 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 because Siodmak has a keen eye for suspense and 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 it 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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