Picks and Pans Review: American Playhouse: Suspicion

UPDATED 04/25/1988 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 04/25/1988 at 01:00 AM EDT

PBS (Wed., April 20, 9 p.m. ET)

B+

It's hard to believe, in this huge country filled with so many starving artists, that we really do suffer from a national shortage of decent ideas. But that must be the case. That's the only rational explanation for Hollywood's overdose of remakes. Now they've gone and done it to Alfred Hitchcock's 1941 movie Suspicion. Jane Curtin takes over Joan Fontaine's Oscar-winning role as a frumpy heiress, and Anthony Andrews fills in for Cary Grant as a penniless party boy who falls in love with her—or her money. This is an unusual remake, for it is almost as good as the original. But that is faint praise. Suspicion wasn't one of Hitchcock's best movies; it was so gloomy, dusty and stiff. And it's not terribly hard to be as good as the original when you copy almost every scene. The opening—when Cary (or Anthony) meets Joan (or Jane) on a train—is shot almost frame-for-frame the same. Even the ending is identical; the producers of the remake kept the same cheat of a final scene that Hitchcock was forced to throw onto his movie because the studio didn't want to ruin Cary Grant's image by letting him be a murderer. Yet there is talent in this show. Curtin puts in a finely shaded performance. Andrews redeems himself after the embarrassment of The Woman He Loved. And the producers—including Curtin's husband, Patrick Lynch—give the show a nice look. Too bad they didn't have the ambition to try something new.

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