Above Suspicion (1943 film)

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This article is about the 1943 film. For the 1995 film starring Christopher Reeve, see Above Suspicion (disambiguation). For the TV drama based on the novel by Lynda la Plante, see Above Suspicion (TV drama).
Above Suspicion
1943 US Theatrical Poster
Directed by Richard Thorpe
Produced by Victor Saville
Written by Keith Winter
Melville Baker
Patricia Coleman
Leonard Lee (uncredited)
Based on Above Suspicion (1941 novel) 
by Helen MacInnes
Starring Joan Crawford
Fred MacMurray
Basil Rathbone
Music by Bronislau Kaper
Cinematography Robert Planck
Edited by George Hively
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release dates
  • 1943 (1943)
Running time 90 min.
Country United States
Language English

Above Suspicion (1943) is an American spy film distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer starring Joan Crawford and Fred MacMurray, and directed by Richard Thorpe. The screenplay was adapted from the novel Above Suspicion (novel) by Helen MacInnes, which is loosely based on the life experiences of MacInnes and her husband, Gilbert Highet.

The plot follows two newlyweds who spy on the Nazis for the British Secret Service during their honeymoon in Europe.

This film marked the end of Crawford's 18-year career with MGM before signing with Warner Bros..[1]


In the spring of 1939, Frances and Richard Myles (Joan Crawford and Fred MacMurray) get married and decide to honeymoon in southern Germany. Because they are American tourists and therefore "above suspicion," they find themselves commissioned by the British secret service to gather the plans for a new secret weapon masterminded by the Nazis involving magnetic mines.[2]

In Paris, Frances buys a hat decorated with a rose as a signal for their first contact, who silently instructs them to go to a café in Montmartre. Another contact gives Frances a guide book to southern Germany and the couple notice a series of pinpricks on a map in the book, put together become the opening notes to the song "My Love Is Like a Red, Red Rose." The couple is to go to a bookshop in Salzburg, and the owner, A. Werner (Felix Bressart), informs them they must go to a certain museum. There, a tour guide named Hassert Seidel (Conrad Veidt) suggests that they check into a guest house run by Frau Kleist.

Some days later, the couple intends to go to a performance of Franz Liszt, but are advised not to attend by Thornley (Bruce Lester), a fellow houseguest. They go anyway, and during the same loud passage that Thornley had been practicing earlier in the night, a Nazi colonel is shot and killed. Officials insist on questioning the entire audience, but Richard and Frances are rescued by Gestapo chief Count Sig von Aschenhausen (Basil Rathbone), a former Oxford schoolmate of Richard's. Later, Thornley admits to Richard that he killed the Nazi as revenge for torturing and killing his Austrian girlfriend.

Frances and Richard go to the home of Dr. Mespelbrunn (Reginald Owen) but he does not seem to be there. Suddenly, They notice sheet music for "My Love Is Like a Red, Red Rose" on his piano just as Sig appears. When Sig does not respond to a signal regarding a rose that Richard gives him, the couple becomes suspicious. They then hear thumping noises upstairs and discover that Sig is holding Mespelbrunn prisoner. Mespelbrunn tells them to run and that the Gestapo is coming after them. The couple leaves the house just in time, and Hassert appears and they free Mespelbrunn, and all four head for Innsbruck. Mespelbrunn later gives Richard a paper with the mine information.

The couple obtains passports from an elderly couple named Schultz, complete with forged identification. Richard is to head to Italy because his clothes as a priest are too conspicuous, but when the real Schultzes are arrested by the Gestapo, the police are on the lookout for them in disguise. Frances is detained and questioned by the Gestapo, but Thornley, who happens to be in Innsbruck as well, is able to find Richard. Richard, Thornley and Hassert sneak in to where Frances is being held and kill all her captors, however Thornley is also killed. After fooling the Nazi border guards, Hassert and the newlyweds finally find freedom.



Variety wrote, "Both MacMurray and Miss Crawford completely handled their roles, despite drawbacks of script material", and T.S. in the New York Times commented, "Joan Crawford...is a very convincing heroine."[3]

Critic Howard Barnes wrote in The New York Herald Tribune that "There are so many floral, musical and cryptographical passwords in the film's plot that the whole show becomes a sort of super treasure hunt... Unfortunately, neither Joan Crawford nor Fred MacMurray looks quite bright enough to unravel the tangled skeins of this screen melodrama."[1]

DVD release[edit]

The film was released on Region 1 DVD on April 6, 2010 from the online Warner Bros. Archive Collection.


  1. ^ a b "Above Suspicion". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved January 23, 2014.
  2. ^ Higham, Charles; Greenberg, Joel (1968). Hollywood in the Forties. London: A. Zwemmer Limited. p. 92. ISBN 978-0-498-06928-4. 
  3. ^ Quirk, Lawrence J.. The Films of Joan Crawford. The Citadel Press, 1968.

External links[edit]