Suspicion (RKO Radio) is good Alfred Hitchcockup to the last few minutes. In those final minutes the picture falls apart at the seams.
This squashy failure by the squash-shaped master of intricate melodrama (The 39 Steps, The Lady Vanishes, Rebecca) can perhaps be attributed to RKO's box-officiousness; Suspicion's principals (Gary Grant and Joan Fontaine) must be kept alive and kicking.
Suspicion (based on Francis Iles's Before the Fact) opens with the authentic Hitchcock touch: a conversation in a railroad train speeding through a pitch-black tunnel. The picture tells the story of a charming, highborn, impoverished British wastrel (Mr. Grant) and his marriage (for love and money) to a sensitive, sensible daughter (Miss Fontaine) of a retired English general (Sir Cedric Hardwicke).
After honeymooning on borrowed money, the bride discovers that her husband is penniless; the groom, that his wife's income will not support them. When he turns embezzler, his loving wife begins to see the tragedy they are headed for. But she cannot break away. She suspects that her husband has murdered his best friend (Nigel Bruce) and intends to murder her for her life insurance.
She never finds out whether or not these suspicions are justified. Husband Grant is such an accomplished liar, poseur and likable bad boy that he fools everybody, including himself. The climax comes when he motors her to her family home for a rest. On a cliff by the sea he apparently tries to shove her out of the car. After convincing her that he was only trying to keep her from falling out of the car, they turn around and head home.
This dippy denouement spoils the picture, but it does not spoil the excellence of many of its parts. Actors Grant and Fontaine make very attractive love to each other, turn in a high-grade performance. And, thanks to Hitchcock's tricks (letting the camera wander down cliffs, pause disturbingly on people's faces), the film has a texture that can almost be touched.
Sometimes over-mental, illogical, actionless, Suspicion has enough Grade-A Hitchcock in it to be notable, even in failure. Best example: a Government crime-laboratory expert, carving his broiled fowl at the dinner table with the deadly scalpel strokes of a surgeon dissecting a cadaver, pauses to comment: "A very interesting corpse dropped in the other day."
The Chocolate Soldier (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer) is apparently a new kind of double-feature picture. It has the title and some of the music of Oscar Straus's 33-year-old operetta, The Chocolate Soldier. For libretto, it has the plot of Ferenc Molnar's 30-year-old play, The Guardsman.