Few have done it blatantly (kudos to Gus Van Sant for trying, remakes of Rear Window and The Lodger are eternally forgettable), but many have paid enough homage to Hitch to warrant an uber-collection of pseudo-remakes, from Brian De Palma’s entire film career (Femme Fatale is his Vertigo) to Martin Scorsese’s Shutter Island, which takes a considerable amount of style, and even a little substance, from Hitch’s Spellbound. How many times has Rope been remade in concept? Murder By Numbers, Swoon, etc.

So why not remake Suspicion, starring Will Smith? The movie star, in many ways, is his generation’s Cary Grant: the charming good guy with a sweet smile and a hint of mischievousness. As much of a Cary Grant as George Clooney is anyway.

Some people disagree with this sentiment, and it’s understandable. Alfred Hitchcock was an auteur of the highest kind, and every one of his films reflect that. On the other hand, isn’t imitation the sincerest form of flattery? And, in fairness to the man’s stories, it wasn’t so much the stories Hitch told as the way he told them.

The majority of his films stick to a procedural-like act structure, defined much more individually by the performances extracted from stars like Grant, Grace Kelly and Jimmy Stewart along with the camera and editing techniques, which evolved throughout Hitch’s catalog.

Suspicion is simple Hitchcock, all about a woman who marries a man she soon expects to be trying to kill him. The real rub of the story comes in the film’s ending, which was altered by the studio in order to maintain Grant’s hero persona, undermining Hitch’s original vision: SPOILER AHEAD:

Hitchcock told Truffaut that he always wanted to end Suspicion by having Johnnie (Cary Grant) poison his wife Lina (Joan Fontaine).  A twist would have been that Lina so loves her husband that, even after guessing his intentions, she consents to drink the poisoned glass of milk he brings her.  But, to protect society, she has first written a letter to her mother, incriminating Johnnie.  At the end of the film, Johnnie, whistling, would have been seen dropping the letter in a mail-box …

Is this not a legitimate motivation to remake Suspicion?

With Smith behind this remake, someone with considerable clout, could the original ending be revived for new audiences? A challenge in anti-casting for Mr. Smith, the way it was meant to challenge Grant.

Smith has made carrying films with simple plots (The Pursuit Of Happyness, I Am Legend, Hitch) a career choice lately, and he’s proven to be the X-Factor in each case, much the way Grant was in lite fare like To Catch a Thief and Charade.

Can the actor bring his movie star charm to the next level, playing a man playing someone he is not? It would appear he has the ability, though he’s yet to be prove himself as much more than a superb performer. No better chance than Suspicion, sans the Hollywood ending.

The real question now is who will direct? Someone like De Palma makes sense, but feels too safe. How about someone young and ambitious like Sweden’s Tomas Alfredson (Let The Right One In)? Or a veteran Hollywood outsider like John Sayles?

With the right person behind the camera, Smith could evolve into the kind of actor the whole world wants him to be. And it would be all thanks to Hitch.

What do you think of remaking Hitchcock? Mortal sin or smart move?

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