“His day of reckoning must come. He is tormented by fear that someday he will make one false move, one slip that will betray him, and when he does, the lightning of justice will strike… the unsuspected.”
When the assistant (Barbara Woodell) of suave radio host Victor Grandison (Claude Rains) is murdered, a mysterious man (Michael North) appears on his doorstep, claiming to be the short-lived husband of Grandison’s wealthy young ward (Joan Caulfield); a web of lies, greed, and deceit is soon revealed.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Amateur Sleuths
- Audrey Totter Films
- Claude Rains Films
- Constance Bennett Films
- Michael Curtiz Films
- Murder Mystery
Response to Peary’s Review:
While acknowledging its shortcomings, Peary seems to be an enormous fan of this atmospheric murder mystery, referring to it as a “really exceptional noir melodrama”. Unfortunately, The Unsuspected — based on a novella by Charlotte Armstrong — is prevented from being a true classic due to its highly convoluted plot, which only begins to make sense more than halfway through (as Peary notes, the “plot has clever twists, but there are so many of them that it becomes confusing”). At the same time, it possesses “sharp” dialogue, a “spooky, tense atmosphere” (Michael Curtiz’s direction is memorable), and “interesting characterizations” by everyone except “the miscast North” (and, I think, the beautiful but bland Caulfield). Rains’s performance is particularly noteworthy — despite learning his “secret” early on, we continue to watch his character with fascination, especially as he expertly uses technology to further his goals.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Claude Rains as Victor Grandison
- Constance Bennett as Grandison’s wisecracking assistant: “You’re as limp as an old girdle.”
- Audrey Totter as Grandison’s scheming niece
- The highly atmospheric opening murder
- Director Michael Curtiz’s innovative camerawork and direction
- Woody Bredell’s noirish cinematography
Yes, simply for Rains’ performance.
- Important Director
- Noteworthy Performance(s)