Movie Critique - Suspense
Stars: 3 / 5
Recommendation: What we consider a sleeper hit in today's world, this certainly became one. An expensive production, and a surprising noir on ice giving you double the chills and triple the terror to the viewers.
Suspense is a 1946 American film noir directed by Frank Tuttle and produced by Frank King and Maurice King. The film had Barry Sullivan, Belita, Albert Dekker and Bonita Granville in the lead cast. Screenplay was written by Philip Yordan.
Joe Morgan (portrayed by Barry Sullivan) gets promoted from a peanut vendor to a managerial position at the theater he worked by the producer Frank Leonard (portrayed by Albert Dekker). Morgan fixates on Leonard's wife Roberta Elva (portrayed by Belita) which creates suspicion in Leonard's wife leading him to try to kill Morgan. The cat and mouse chase game starts for Morgan, Leonard and Roberta that ends in murder, deceit and heartbreak.
Barry Sullivan portrayed the role of infatuated Joe Morgan in the film. I saw him recently in the 1952 American melodrama The Bad and the Beautiful. Sullivan's Morgan is relentless, infatuated, and crazy in love with the wrong girl.
Former Olympic skater Belita who plays the part of figure skater Roberta Elva is given some very good ice skating numbers to showcase her talent. Belita gets top billing over Sullivan for this film. Belita's Roberta is every bit a femme fatale - beautiful, tugging at Morgan's heart craving for the forbidden fruit, and then leaving him hanging.
The other female in the mix is Bonita Granville as Ronnie, Morgan's ex-girlfriend. She is selfish, possessive and conniving. Rarely I see two femme fatale in the same film. But Director Frank Tuttle made Ronnie as much dangerous as Roberta was. He put Morgan in a place flanked by two beautiful females that are almost black widow spiders in nature. Personally I liked Belita's acting over Granville's.
Albert Dekker as Frank Leonard in the movie made a jealous husband look good. He was a prominent fixture in noir films in the 40s and 50s. Recently I watched him portray the role of Dr. G. E. Soberin in the 1955 American film noir Kiss Me Deadly.
This ice-skating themed film plot certainly wouldn’t seem like a film noir at all. Yet it has been quoted by many that the plot is a psychological treatment of the 1866 novel Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky.
This 1.1 million dollars film was the most expensive one made by Monogram Pictures at the time of the release, contrary to the poverty row projects that Monogram Pictures delivered with small budgets and reused sets. This was completely different. It did get some bad reviews from critics. But in the end it became a box office hit. It has some good ice-skating dance numbers performed on the film.
The movie title reminded me of the old time radio show Suspense that aired on CBS Radio from 1940 through 1962; and on CSB television from 1949 to 1954. All the plots in the series involved suspense, intrigue, murder and mystery just like this film.
Some famous singers are seen in the film. In a Mexican restaurant scene, we see Bobby Ramos and his Rumba Band singing a song titled With You In My Arms. Lyrics were penned by By Dunham and Music by Daniele Amfitheatrof, who also gave overall music for the film. For one of the ice skating dance numbers, Ice Cuba, Cuban singer Miguelito Valdes, sings Cabildo.
Belita did most of the stunts during the dance routines in single takes. For the time that she was performing, the ice skating routines were pretty talented and innovative. Her famous ring of swords routine is deadly and yet thrilling.
The costumes for both the heroines, and the ones Belita wears for her ice routines are simply marvelous. Belita even made plaid look like silk on her moving with the fabric as if it was light as feather. Robert Kalloch certainly had a flair with costumes in here.
Here are Belita's costumes: First are the ones she wore for the performances; the second are the ones she wore outside of the performance.
And Bonita's costumes
What we consider a sleeper hit in today's world, this certainly became one. Although one part of the plot never gets explained and felt like being left in the dark for the viewers. An expensive production, and a surprising noir on ice giving you double the chills and triple the terror to the viewers.
1) Movie Trivia:
a. This was the last film of actor Eugene Pallette who portrays the role of Henry Wheeler in the film.
2) Grammatical / Historical / Location / Character Errors:
a. The position of the lions in the cage in the zoo scene, keeps changing between frames without the lions moving an inch in the background.
b. If Morgan is the manager, how come he doesn’t know that Frank Leonard decided to close the show? Shouldn't Leonard have informed him instead of Morgan finding about it only when the workers are marking it "Closed" on the marquee?