Narrative Space

  • Stephen Heath
Part of the Communications and Culture book series (COMMCU)


At a climactic point in Hitchcock’s Suspicion, Lina (Joan Fontaine) receives a visit from two police inspectors come to inform her of the death of a friend in circumstances which cannot but increase her fears concerning the probity — the rectitude — of her husband Johnnie (Cary Grant). The scene finds its centre in a painting: the massive portrait of Lina’s father which bears with all its OEdipal weight on the whole action of the film — this woman held under the eye of the father (the name as crushing as the image: General MacLaidlaw), sexuality in place as transgression (‘Lina will never marry, she’s not the marrying sort... Lina has intellect and a fine solid character’, declares the General early on in the film), as radically ‘impossible’ (leaving her father for Johnnie, Lina is henceforth racked by doubt, a suspicion that is irresolvable, for her and the film) — and before which she now positions herself to read the newspaper report of the friend’s death and to gather strength enough to face the scrutiny of the law, the look relayed from portrait to police and to portrait again (Stills 1, 2, 3, 4).


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© Stephen Heath 1981

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  • Stephen Heath

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