Reel Classics

The Suspect (1944) - Blu-ray Review

The Suspect (1944)

Suspicions!  Accusations!  It’s all on the screen in this minor film noir classic.  The Suspect arrives on blu-ray thanks to Kino Lorber and I, as a fan of Laughton’s performances, couldn’t be happier.

"All of it works to create a moody mystery that works fate into it in a surprising manner"


Based on the 1939 novel This Way Out by James Ronald, this Universal production is a film noir thriller like few others and that’s because it takes place during Edwardian times as the unhappily married Charles Laughton starts making eyes at the younger Ella Raines and finds himself at odds with the ever-threatening Rosaland Ivan, his wife who is growing more and more suspicious of his every move.  Something is going to break as the tension mounts and mounts and . . . 

. . . it just might be Laughton as Philip, with a clear message to his wife, moves into their son’s vacant room and carries on with Raines as the flirtations Mary, the younger woman he befriends.  Things might be platonic between them, but Cora (Ivan) keeps pushing the tension, driving Philip to do unthinkable things . . . like (maybe) pushing her down the stairs and causing her death.

Or did he?  That’s the central element to the thriller as Inspector Huxley (Stanley Ridges) enters the flick and, along with a nosy neighbor Gilbert (Henry Daniell), keeps turning the screws in Philip’s head.  The truth is that we really do not know if he did it or not, but - as he marries Mary and then they elope to Canada - it seems the writing is there on the wall.  GUILTY!

And all of this takes place in 1902, which makes this thriller rather interesting - even if the performances are overblown and whatnot.  All of it works to create a moody mystery that works fate into it in a surprising manner thanks to director Robert Siodmak, the legendary director of The Spiral Staircase, The Killers, Cry of the City, Criss Cross and The Crimson Pirate.The Suspect (1944)

Film Noir, as a genre in film, stems from the assault of way too many “Happy Endings” in Hollywood.  It’s a natural response full of pessimism and fatalism and, as a result, it butters this reviewer’s bread.  For about a decade, writers and directors could see that audiences weren’t interested in fairy tales anymore.  There was too much poverty; too much death and destruction; too many wars.  And the push to urban life had created an economic disparity that lingered long after any romantic ending did.  

People needed the darkness to be acknowledged and, from 1944 to 1955, it was cinema’s prime celebrity as highly cinematographic films - cheaply made - fell onto the rain-soaked streets of Home Town, USA.  And The Suspect is one among them, making it a minor REEL CLASSIC in film noir.

The Suspect is now on blu-ray, digitally remastered and fully restored from the original 35mm film elements, thanks to Kino Lorber Studio Classics and their brand-new 2K transfer.

4/5 stars

 

The Suspect (1944)

Blu-ray Details

Home Video Distributor: Kino Lorber
Available on Blu-ray
- February 9, 2021
Screen Formats: 1.37:1
Subtitles
: English SDH
Audio:
English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; single disc
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

From Robert Siodmak comes this classic film noir starring acting great Charles Laughton (Witness for the Prosecution). Philip Marshall (Laughton) is a kind, henpecked accountant who strikes up a friendship with Mary Gray (Ella Raines, Phantom Lady), a young unemployed stenographer who had approached him for work. He gradually finds himself falling in love with her, but keeps the relationship platonic. With his wife suspecting him of having an affair, Philip asks her for a divorce, but she refuses and threatens him with exposure and scandal. When his wife is found dead of an apparent accident, Inspector Huxley (Stanley Ridges, An Act of Murder) of Scotland Yard suspects Marshall of murder, but is unable to prove it or establish a motive.

Video:

With a crisp black-and-white transfer, The Suspect lands on blu-ray thanks to the crackling efforts of Kino Lorber Studio Classics.  Shadows, while not too terribly detailed, are thick and atmospheric throughout. Presented with an aspect ratio of 1.37:1, the film looks marvelous and easily beats the poor appearance on television and on home video DVD that has previously dogged it. The blacks and grays are handled expertly by the transfer.  Beads of sweat are visible, wet city streets, textures in clothing, and even the dirt in the pavement is all visible with fine textures throughout.

Audio:

Bang! Bang! Bang!  Shots are fired on the DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track which accompanies this film noir flick.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • Film Historian Troy Howarth provides a great commentary to the film, elevating it when it comes to film noir classics.

Special Features:

Fans get the new 2K master, a commentary, and a trailer with this release.

  • Brand New 2K Master
  • NEW Audio Commentary by Film Historian Troy Howarth
  • Trailers

Blu-ray Rating

  Movie 4/5 stars
  Video  4/5 stars
  Audio 3/5 stars
  Extras 3/5 stars

Overall Blu-ray Experience

3.5/5 stars


Film Details

The Suspect (1944)

MPAA Rating: Unrated.
Runtime:
85 mins
Director
: Robert Siodmak
Writer:
Bertram Millhauser
Cast:
Charles Laughton, Ella Raines, Dean Harens
Genre
: Drama | Noir
Tagline:
His was a strange SECRET! Hers was a strange LOVE!
Memorable Movie Quote: "Well, a chap my age has the right to a few peculiarities."
Theatrical Distributor:
Universal Pictures
Official Site:
Release Date:
January 31, 1945
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
February 9, 2021.
Synopsis: Philip Marshall (Laughton) is a kind, henpecked accountant who strikes up a friendship with Mary Gray (Ella Raines, Phantom Lady), a young unemployed stenographer who had approached him for work. He gradually finds himself falling in love with her, but keeps the relationship platonic. With his wife suspecting him of having an affair, Philip asks her for a divorce, but she refuses and threatens him with exposure and scandal. When his wife is found dead of an apparent accident, Inspector Huxley (Stanley Ridges, An Act of Murder) of Scotland Yard suspects Marshall of murder, but is unable to prove it or establish a motive.

Art

The Suspect (1944)

 

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