Currently, I’m reading Above Suspicion and Assignment in Brittany, the first two novels written by espionage novelist Helen MacInnes, pictured. These novels about the Second World War were written during the war, so they carried the stamp of authenticity. Furthermore, Helen MacInnes was married to Gilbert Highet who served in MI6 as a British intelligence agent. It is believed that Highet provided espionage details for many of MacInnes’ books and that their experiences formed the basis for Above Suspicion.
Directed by Richard Thorpe, Above Suspicion was released as a movie in 1943. Joan Crawford and Fred MacMurray took the lead roles in a plot that followed two newlyweds as they spied on the Nazis during their honeymoon in Europe.
The production standards for the movie were good. The back projection and background paintings, standard practice in movie making for decades, were largely unobtrusive. On first viewing, I thought Joan Crawford was miscast. However, on second viewing, I agreed with the New York Times who said, “Joan Crawford is a very convincing heroine.”
The plot lent itself to a noir treatment. However, the producer and director went for a lighter touch, including humour and musical numbers whenever possible. This was justified because a musical score was central to the plot.
Given that the movie was released in 1943, it contained some racy banter between Joan Crawford and Fred MacMurray whose innuendos and desire to have sex whenever possible realistically portrayed them as newlyweds.
Above Suspicion marked the end of Joan Crawford’s eighteen year career with MGM before she signed with Warner Bros. Sadly, the movie served as the final role for character actor Conrad Veidt, who died of a heart attack shortly after the final scenes were shot.
If you are a fan of vintage movies, then Above Suspicion is certainly worth ninety minutes of your time.