Posted on Friday, February 26th, 2010 by Russ Fischer
The common line amongst film fans is that Alfred Hitchcock is sacrosanct; his movies are not to be remade. He could do it (The Man Who Knew Too Much) but no one else should (Psycho). In some cases that’s an understandable stance to take. Remaking Vertigo would be insane, because it stemmed so directly from Hitchcock’s psyche, and remaking The Birds is crazy because it was as much a technical challenge as anything else. Repeating that is pointless.
But what about something like Suspicion, which is a decent, but fairly routine Hitchcock thriller? Is that out of bounds?
Latino Review reports that Will Smith wants to produce and star in a remake of Suspicion, in which he’d take over the role originally played by Cary Grant. From a star perspective, that makes sense, I suppose.
Hitchcock’s film was based on Francis Iles‘ 1932 novel Before the Fact. In the original, Johnnie, a handsome, dashing cad (Cary Grant), meets and marries a young woman (Joan Fontaine) who soon learns that her new husband is actually broke and hoping to sponge off her family. As she learns of Johnnie’s financial irresponsibility she begins to think that he plans to kill her and collect on a life insurance policy. (Warning: spoilers for a 70-year-old movie ahead!) But by the end it seems he’s not trying to kill her, and his wife thinks Johnnie actually wants to commit suicide to escape the messed-up life he’s created for himself.
That’s a significantly different ending from the original novel. Hitchcock complained that he had to change the plot at the behest of RKO — no way could Cary Grant be a killer! — and despite the fact that Joan Fontaine won an Oscar for the film he was reportedly never happy with how the film turned out.
So there’s a lot of stuff in the book that didn’t end up in the film, most of which throws Johnnie’s character further into question. Plenty of room, I think, to make a new version, so long as the book is used as the source, with some cues taken from Hitch. I can live with that, as long as the result works.