TNB Night Owl — Noir Side Street Presents “The Suspect”

Incoming Day. Photo by Emanuele Toscano.

Today’s film is Universal Pictures’ 1944 movie “The Suspect,” starring Charles Laughton (Philip Marshall), Ella Raines (Mary Gray), Stanley Ridges (Inspector Huxley), Dean Harens (John Marshall), Henry Daniel (Gilbert Simmons), Rosalind Ivan (Cora Marshall), Molly Lamont (Edith Simmons), and Raymond Severn (Merridew). Directed by Robert Siodmak; cinematography by Paul Ivano. Produced by Islin Auster for Universal Pictures. Screenplay by Bertram Millhauser and Arthur T. Horman; based on the novel “This Way Out” by James Ronald.

The film opens in 1902 London; Philip Marshall arrives home to find a cab waiting in front of the house. John, Marshall’s adult son, has had another argument with his shrewish mother and has decided to move out. Cora berates father and son as the young man leaves. (If anyone deserves to die…) Once John is gone, Philip gathers some of his own things out of the master bedroom and announces to his wife he’ll be living in John’s room from now on.

Soon after, Mary Gray visits the tobacconist shop Marshall manages in hopes of getting a job as a secretary, since she’s proficient on one of those newfangled typewriters. But the firm is quite happy with the boys they have filling those positions, and so Mary leaves, dejected. As Marshall is heading home that evening, he runs into Mary at a local park. The two strike up a conversation and end up deciding to go to dinner. Philip tells her he has nowhere else to be.

The two begin spending their evenings together enjoying each other’s company. (No worries, it’s completely chaste.) But Cora begins wondering where her husband is spending his nights and so follows him. He hears footsteps behind him and manages to lose her.

On Christmas Eve, Philip has decided to try to pretend he and his wife are a happily married couple by making a show of decorating the house for the holiday. But, as usual, his nasty, spiteful wife can’t be reasonable. She confronts him about Mary, threatening to ruin them both.

In a fateful moment, Philip decides to take care of this problem with a bit of poison.

From this point, Scotland Yard has some questions…

In spite of the age difference, Philip and Mary marry in order to prevent her from being called as a witness in the possible murder trial. The rest of the film winds down pretty much as you’d expect.

It’s not a bad way to spend 81 minutes of your time.

I give this 3.25 unfiltered cigarette puffs.

Next week you’re getting a special treat, one of my favorite gothic noir films: “Repeat Performance.”

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