Tuesday, January 19, 2021

The Suspect (1944) Kino Studio Classics Blu Ray Review

The Suspect (1944) Kino Studio Classics 2/9/2021

Directed By: Robert Sidomak 

Starring: Charles Laughton, Ella Raines, Dean Harens, Henry Daniels, Stanley Ridges, Rosalind Ivan

Disclaimer: Kino Studio Classics has provided me with a copy of this film free of charge for the purposes of review. All opinions contained within are my own honest reflections. 

    Director Robert Sidomak was well known in many genres especially in the mystery/Noir-genre with classics under The Killers (1946), Phantom Lady (1944) and Criss Cross (1949) under his belt. I wouldn't say this is Noir per-say but it certainly fits within Sidomak's other murder-mystery/thrillers. Philip (Charles Laughton) is a mild-mannered married man that is living in a hellish marriage with his wife Cora (Rosalind Ivan). After the chance meeting with a pretty young woman named Mary (Ella Raines) the pair fall in love despite Philip being married. Christmas Eve the couple have a verbal fight, as Cora has found out about Mary. Later, Cora dies suddenly from a fall. Naturally Philip becomes the suspect in her death. Thus begins a mystery set in 1902. The Suspect is a movie that I found both really interesting but, also underwhelming. From a technical standpoint the film is stunning. Director of photography Paul Ivano gives the film a bigger scope and depth with his expert camera work and German expressionistic, moody lighting. Though Ivano didn't do many note worthy films (though he is given an uncredited work on '31 Frankenstein), his resume includes over one-hundred credits which is incredibly impressive. In front of the camera the larger than life Charles Laughton commands every scene, though, turns in a more reserved performance. With Laughton's impish grin and swagger he could play subtle and still get his point across. In a supporting role Rosalind Ivan gives a wonderful turn as a overbearing wife. It's a thankless role but the character actor makes the most of it. Ella Raines plays the opposite coin to Ivan and, again, isn't given much to do but is still stellar. Outside of the lead, I would say Henry Daniels is the most memorable as the wicked Mr. Simmons. Daniels whose starred in classics like The Philadelphia Story (1940), The Great Dictator (1940) and, Witness for the Prosecution (1957) (also starring Laughton) really delivers the goods. My biggest issue is that Suspect feels flatly written. Characters feel underdeveloped and the plot could have used more tense moments. Also, the movie really lacks any great twists and turns to make it more engaging. I could only wonder what somebody like Fritz Lang or Alfred Hitchcock would have done with the material. The movie is not without it's charm and, as I said it looks great and is populated by some amazing actors and a solid score is the legendary Frank Skinner (Harvey, Arabian Nights). It's just I felt that the story could have used a punch-up and even would have benefitted from being longer. Overall, an enjoyable but flawed flick. Still worth a watch. 

Picture: The Suspect comes to Kino sporting a brand-new 2k transfer. The black and white photography is well balanced with a nice contrast. Grain is fine and well maintained. Overall, most of the artifacts and scratches have been scrubbed. Though, there are some very minor blemishes. A really good looking film and I can't think of this movie looking better. 

Sound: Suspect has a really nicely done 2.0 track. Dialogue comes through nicely and, I could not detect any unwanted background hiss or distortion. Skinners nicely done score is also celebrated here. 

Extras: Extras include a feature length commentary by author and historian Troy Howarth. I have heard many of Mr. Howarth's commentaries and, I never cease to be impressed and engrossed by them. Clearly, a lot of work and research goes into making Suspect's track a lively and informative one. Make sure to give this a listen to! 

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