Cruelty is a necessary element of film noir, but it usually comes in the ending -- the last-minute reveal that he never really loved her or that she was only out for money, or that the wrong man will go down for the crime after all, because the system just doesn't care. The interesting thing about The Suspect is that cruelty is woven into the premise -- it paints the wholly improbable scenario of having a twenty-something secretary with the drop-dead movie star looks of Ella Raines (see above) fall in love with her boss, Charles Laughton. Yes, that Charles Laughton. Stop laughing, I'm serious. Laughton's character can hardly believe his good luck, and decides not to bother Ella Raines with the factoid that he has a wife at home. After what we can surmise has been a life of endless toil and trouble, he's not about to mess up this good thing that has fallen into his lap. The scenes where Laughton returns home from a hard day's work to be confronted by his shrieking horror of a wife (Rosalind Ivan) are entirely redundant -- the audience has already forgiven him for adultery, and is ready to forgive him for murder as well. In fact, we want him to murder his wife.

categories Cinematical