Suspect from Husband (a.k.a. Suspicion)

China|1948|B&W|105 min|DCP|Mandarin|Chi subtitles
China Film Archive Collection, restored by Shaanxi Western Movie Group in 2016.
30.05.2020 (Sat) 14:00 BC

Dir & Scr: Xu Changlin
Cinematographer: Gao Hongtao
Cast: Xie Tian, Chen Yanyan, Shi Hong

The internal monologue in Spring in a Small Town (1948) is hailed for its ingenuity, but this film proves that such a masterstroke is not a singular happening. In fact, the styles of many Chinese films of the same period are neither dull nor outdated. The use of inner dialogue and multiple perspectives is a sign of learning from Hollywood while developing their own innovations. After the war is won, a husband returns to Beijing from Chongqing. He suspects that his wife, whom he hasn’t seen in years, is having an affair with the male tenant who lived in their house during his absence. The restless husband often takes his frustration out on his wife by hurling insults. When the tenant’s love letter arrives, the couple must decide whether they should separate once again. The film’s Chinese title is identical to the Chinese title of Alfred Hitchcock’s Suspicion (1941). The central emotion is changed to the anxiety of a husband away from home. The truth is that both people on the front line and back home have their own stories to tell. Winning the war brings joy as well as sudden changes. Pain and relief are just another battle at home. The various internal monologues by different characters give us a peek into the hidden truths of the heart, and form the foundation for this panorama of human drama. With the Western-style mansion as the backdrop, a man suffering from posttraumatic stress wanders in this alienating space, transforming Hollywood suspense into the frightful angst of a man whose country is in tatters.

Xu Changlin (1916-2001)
During the war, Xu Changlin was writing stage plays and criticism in Chongqing. In the postwar era, he wrote and directed Sinister House No.13 (1948, starring Bai Guang), The Devils (1949) and Fang Zhenzhu (1952), among others. He pays great attention to scenes and atmosphere, building vigorous yet repressed psychological state and conflict.