Cary Grant’s reputation was a reliable tool for Alfred Hitchcock
Hitchcock and Grant’s first collaboration, the 1941 thriller “Suspicion,” is a version of “Rebecca,” Hitchcock’s first American album from the previous year. In both, Joan Fontaine plays a woman who suspects her new husband of being a murderer. In “Suspicion”, however, the class roles are reversed – Fontaine is not an ordinary woman married to an aristocrat, but an heiress charmed by a broke hustler.
Sir Laurence Olivier, who starred in “Rebecca” as Maxim de Winter, was a different type of actor from Grant. He had come to play Byronic’s heroes in Shakespeare’s classics; Casting him as the character the audience is supposed to suspect is a villain makes sense. What’s bold about “Suspicion” is that Hitchcock casts Grant in that role. Grant was always charmed as a leading man due to his natural instinct for comedy, and now audiences were supposed to think so in cold blood.
Grant’s character, Johnnie Aysgarth, can’t quite compete with Winter’s brooding character. Still, he’s compelling as an outgoing player who tells so many lies he utters them as if they’re true. According to McCann, Hitchcock’s goal with the character and the film was to expose the root of Grant’s appeal in a more sinister light.