Like many a Hitchcock film, this one involves a train. In this instance, a man and woman meet on a train. They are Johnnie Aysgarth (played with debonair suave by Cary Grant) and Lina McLaidlaw (played with shy reserve by Joan Fontaine).
Lina is, of course, swept off her spinster-ish feet by the awesome Johnnie, and they elope. (Like many a Hitchcock film, romance happens fast!)
Well … after the honeymoon is over, it turns out Johnnie doesn’t have a dime to his name and is your basic bum. So, for sure, the honeymoon is definitely over. But Lina does manage to talk Johnnie into taking a job with his cousin, Captain Melbeck (played by Hitchcock favorite Leo G. Carroll).
Unfortunately, Johnnie is truly a loser. A shady, lying bastard of a loser, no less. And, despite assurances from his good-natured, but stupid naïve friend Beaky (played by Nigel Bruce, as if he were Dr. Watson’s halfwit twin), Lina develops suspicions about Johnnie, including the notion that he might want to “take care of” her, as the boys in Pulp Fiction might say—and I don’t mean keep her in the style to which she’s accustomed.
This is one of those movies where viewers have to restrain themselves from shouting at the screen, “Get out of the house!” The ending is … well … it wasn’t Hitchcock’s first choice.
In fact, there are numerous differences between the film and the book upon which it was based. Basically, the novel was rife with infidelity, which was completely laundered from the film version.
The book is much darker, but this is Cary Grant we’re talking here. So, the story’s details required tinkering in order to present Cary in the best light.
This makes for a thrilling and suspenseful film with just a nice ending.
As such, I like the movie, but it isn’t one of my very favorite Hitchcock films. However, despite the tacked-on Hollywood ending, I think it deserves at least one thumb up! 🙂