The Suspect

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For the 1975 Italian film, see The Suspect (1975 film). For the 1998 Hong Kong film, see The Suspect (1998 film). For the 2013 South Korean film, see The Suspect (2013 film).
The Suspect
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Robert Siodmak
Produced by Islin Auster
Screenplay by Bertram Millhauser
Arthur T. Horman
Based on the novel This Way Out 
by James Ronald
Starring Charles Laughton
Ella Raines
Dean Harens
Stanley Ridges
Music by Frank Skinner
Cinematography Paul Ivano
Edited by Arthur Hilton
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release dates
  • December 22, 1944 (1944-12-22) (premiere-San Francisco)
  • January 26, 1945 (1945-01-26) (wide-United States)
Running time
85 minutes
Country United States
Language English

The Suspect is a 1944 film noir directed by Robert Siodmak, set in London in 1902, in Edwardian times. It is based on the novel This Way Out, by James Ronald, and was released by Universal Pictures. It stars Charles Laughton, Ella Raines, Dean Harens, and Stanley Ridges.[1]


Ella Raines and Charles Laughton

Philip Marshall (Charles Laughton) is a kind but henpecked accountant who strikes up an innocent friendship with a young stenographer (played by Ella Raines) who had approached him looking for work. He gradually finds himself falling in love with her, but keeps the relationship platonic.

His wife Cora (Rosalind Ivan), who has also alienated their son with her shrewish ways, suspects the worst and threatens a scandal. Cora dies after a fall down the stairs at home, and it is left to the viewer to decide whether Marshall arranged the fall or not. It is strongly hinted that he did, although the death appears accidental.

A Scotland Yard inspector (Stanley Ridges) suspects that Marshall murdered his wife but is unable to prove anything. An impoverished, drunken, wife-beating neighbor (Henry Daniell) is very interested to learn of the inspector's suspicions, and relishes the chance to blackmail Marshall, whose respectability he envies. He threatens to invent a story about an argument between Marshall and his wife, which would appear to prove that Marshall had killed his wife.

Marshall kills his neighbor. When the Inspector hears of this second death, he sets a trap in which he pretends to frame his neighbour's long-suffering innocent wife for the murder. The success of the trap depends on Marshall's coming forward, rather than letting the innocent woman hang. The inspector believes that, in spite of everything, Marshall has never lost his innate decency.


Ella Raines with camera assistants Robert Lazlo and Frank Heisler and cinematographer Paul Ivano on the set of The Suspect


Critical response[edit]

Film critic Bosley Crowther wrote, "Another study of an amiable, middle-aged fellow who commits murder out of desperation and his attempts at concealing his connection is being offered in The Suspect, ... The Suspect is by no means a dull picture, but it seems to lack that quality of excitement which in good melodrama keeps one on edge. In a word, it is too genteel. Henry Daniell, as the blackmailer, and Rosalind Ivan, as the exasperating spouse, are each splendid, and Ella Raines is most appealing as the second wife. It might be remarked, however, that her choice of a husband of Mr. Laughton's dimensions is a bit strange."[2]

The staff at Variety magazine praised the film. They wrote, "In Charles Laughton’s accomplished hands, this character becomes fascinating ... There is less of the bluster and none of the villainy of Laughton’s previous vehicles. He gives an impeccable performance as the kindly, law-abiding citizen. Matching his deft portrayal is Ella Raines as the youthful steno he weds after his wife’s demise."[3] Motion Picture Magazine gave the film a glowing review, praising the writing, directing and acting, saying "Without mincing words, Arthur T. Horman's adaptation from James Ronald's novel, magnificently transcribed to the screen by Bertram Millhauser, brilliantly directed by Robert Siodmak, who draws from Charles Laughton what is undoubtedly one of the finest characterizations of the latter's career, all combine to make "The Suspect" a superb thriller ...."[4]

More recently, film critic Dennis Schwartz, gave the film a mixed review, writing, "Robert Siodmak (The Spiral Staircase/The Killers/The File on Thelma Jordon) competently directs this theatrical studio-bound minor film noir, and keeps it more as a character study than as a whodunit. It builds on suspense, but never becomes that exciting or interesting. But it's well-acted, though the dreary story is never totally convincing or compelling."[5]


In 1955, The Suspect was dramatized for television on Lux Video Theatre, and starred Robert Newton.


  1. ^ The Suspect at the American Film Institute Catalog.
  2. ^ Crowther, Bosley. film review, The New York Times, February 1, 1945. Accessed: July 4, 2013.
  3. ^ Variety. Staff film review, 1945. Accessed: July 15, 2013.
  4. ^ Ryweck, Charles (December 22, 1944). "Reviews: The Suspect". The Film Daily. p. 7. Retrieved October 3, 2015. open access publication - free to read
  5. ^ Schwartz, Dennis. Ozus' World Movie Reviews, film review, January 24, 2011. Accessed: July 15, 2013.

External links[edit]

Streaming audio[edit]