Suspicion (1941): Hitchcock’s Recurrent Themes, Motifs, Images

Though not one of Hitchcock’s masterpieces, Suspicion contains many of his recurrent themes, motifs, and visual elements. It was one of the six Hitchcock movies nominated for the Best Picture Oscar; it didn’t win.


The movie probes into the fragility of the Aysgarth marriage (and marriage in general).  The social order barely supports it.

Power of the Past and Impact of the Dead

The power of the dead–Lina’s father, who disinherits her–and their impact on the living.


Lina, the heroine has two parents. The mother, Mrs. McLaidlow (Dame My Whitty) is possessive and overprotective of her immature daughter treating her as a child

Siblings: Female novelist and her coroner brother.


Many of the characters are defined by ambiguous or conflicted feelings, manifest in their verbal and nonverbal communication.

There are more female than male figures

Visual images:

Seashore; rocky beaches

Dinner Party

Hitchcock included a female couple as guests at the society dinner party.

Dinner party at the local novelist, attended by her brother, who’s a coroner.  The discussion of murder proceeds quietly as he (wearing thick glasses) cuts a Cornish hem.  He slices into the bird, while talking calmly about exhuming a body.  The scene has macabre humor (later evident in “Frenzy”).

Food and Drink

The poisonous sequence, when Johnny brings Lina a glass of milk, mounting up the stairs, as the windows cast shadows. (elements of film noir).  Hitchcock famously put a luminous bulb inside the

Car as Emotional Setting

As in many other Hitchcock movies, the car serves as the setting for emotional confrontations and probation of relationships.  The end of suspicion depicts is one wild ride of the couple, with Johnny insists on taking Lina back home to her mother, and she fearing for her life.


As a hero, Johnny is handsome, eccentric, irresponsible, and a bit campy.  When he does her hair, Grant’s Johnny says: “For a while I became a passionate hairdresser.” Later on, he states:  “your hair has so many possibilities.”  Johnny rearranges rearranges Lina’s hair so that it has  a pony on top (like an erected penis).