Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Michael Curtiz|
|Based on||the novel The Unsuspected
by Charlotte Armstrong
|Music by||Franz Waxman|
|Edited by||Fredrick Richards|
Michael Curtiz Productions
|Distributed by||Warner Bros.|
The Unsuspected is a 1947 American black-and-white film noir directed by Michael Curtiz, and starring Claude Rains, Audrey Totter, Ted North, Constance Bennett, and Joan Caulfield. The film was based on the novel written by Charlotte Armstrong. The screenplay was co-written by Bess Meredyth, who was married to director Curtiz.
A woman, Roslyn Wright (played by the uncredited Barbara Woodell), is found dead hanging from a chandelier in a posh mansion occupied by Victor Grandison, a popular "true crime" radio story host. Roslyn was his secretary.
Victor has also recently lost a niece, Matilda Frazier, presumed dead from a boating accident. But at a birthday party thrown by another niece, Althea, everyone is surprised by the appearance of Steven Howard, who claims to be married to the missing Matilda.
Victor is accompanied by his radio producer, Jane Moynihan, at the party. He is unsure what to make of the stranger, particularly with a family estate to be settled, and asks a detective named Donovan to investigate. Matilda turns up, but claims to have no memory of Steven or their marriage, despite his efforts to prove it to be true. Acting suspiciously, meanwhile, is Althea's husband Oliver, drinking heavily.
In time, Althea comes to believe her uncle Victor killed his secretary. Victor confirms this to Althea, then murders her as well. Steven confides to Matilda and Jane that he was actually Roslyn's husband, determined to discover the truth about her death. When proof is found as to what really happened, Victor gives a full confession on his final radio show.
- Joan Caulfield as Matilda Frazier
- Claude Rains as Victor Grandison
- Audrey Totter as Althea Keane
- Constance Bennett as Jane Moynihan
- Hurd Hatfield as Oliver Keane
- Ted North as Steven Howard (billed as Michael North)
- Fred Clark as Richard Donovan
- Harry Lewis as Kent (the butler)
- Jack Lambert as Mr. Press
- Nana Bryant as Mrs. White
- Walter Baldwin as Judge Maynard
When the film was released, The New York Times film critic, Bosley Crowther, gave the film a mixed review, writing, "There is reasonable ground for suspicion that the people who made The Unsuspected thought that they were fashioning another Laura, popular mystery of a few years back ... But, beyond a brisk flurry of excitement and wickedness at the start, it bears little showmanly resemblance to that previous top-drawer effort in this line. Rather it is much more suggestive, the further along it goes, of a second-rate mystery melodrama upon which too much money and too big a cast has been spent ... Once launched, however, it starts leaking, pulling apart at the seams, and generally foundering in a welter of obvious contrivances and clichés ...However, the rest of the performers — Joan Caulfield, Audrey Totter, Hurd Hatfield, Constance Bennett and a half dozen others —are as patly artificial as the plot."
Film historians Alain Silver and Elizabeth Ward write that the film is impressive because of its emphasis on style: "Jack Lambert as the blackmailed killer lies in bed smoking. The radio is on and Alexander Grandison is detailing the story of his particular crime. The only source of the illumination in this dingy hotel room comes from a partially obscured flashing neon sign. The letters that are visible through the window seem to echo the thoughts of the uncomfortable murderer as it keeps blinking "KILL... KILL... KILL."
- The Unsuspected at the Internet Movie Database.
- Crowther, Bosley. The New York Times, film review, "The Unsuspected, New Warner Mystery, With Joan Coalfield and Michael North, at Strand -- Blonde Savage at Rialto", October 4, 1947; accessed: July 13, 2013.
- Alain Silver and Elizabeth Ward (1992). Film Noir An Encyclopedic Reference to the American Style. The Overlook Press. ISBN 0-87951-479-5.
- The Unsuspected at the Internet Movie Database
- The Unsuspected at AllMovie
- The Unsuspected at the TCM Movie Database