[Quick Summary: A young woman is entranced, wooed, and married to a wastrel , and soon finds that her new husband may be trying to kill her.]
*WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD*
Johnnie Aysgarth is an excellent villain in this story.
I believe he's shady, devious, underhanded, and unreliable.
I believe he's also in love with his new wife, Lina McLaidlaw.
I believe he would indeed lie, mislead, and cheat for the funds to keep her.
However, I do not believe the ending in the script, i.e., that he is redeemed. It is not consistent with Johnnie's character or his choices.
I think Hitchcock thought the same because he wanted a darker ending.
Unfortunately, he had wrongly cast Cary Grant as Johnnie. The studio didn't think audiences would buy him as a killer, and thus insisted on the current, happier ending.
I would've believed Hitchcock's darker version over the present one.
I think it's because Johnnie has the charisma to sell it:
ex. "ALICE: And Johnnie insisted on meeting you.
LINA (looking at Johnnie): Why?
The girls giggle but before they have time to reply Johnnie says very simply:
JOHNNIE: Well, I understand from these charming ladies that a really bang-up, eligible young man is an unusual sight in this part of the country. My heard was touched.
SEMI-CLOSEUP - Lina and Johnnie. Johnnie remains calm and smiling and Lina is flushed and embarrassed. Behind this we hear others chattering simultaneously."
WHAT I'VE LEARNED: I'm comforted that even Hitchcock had to compromise, and sometimes it wasn't always for the best.
by Samson Raphaelson, Alma Reville, and Joan Harrison
Based on the novel,, "Before the Fact," by Francis Iles (pseudonym for A. B. Cox)