Shadow of A Doubt

Shadow of A Doubt

DVD - 2005
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Uncle Charlie is a seemingly charming man visiting his relatives in their small and peaceful hometown. But when his namesake niece, "Young Charlie" suspects that he may in fact be the psychopathic Merry Widow killer, Uncle Charlie must plot the death of his favorite relation in order to remain one step ahead of the law in this murderous game of cat-and-mouse.

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richmole
Apr 06, 2019

Like many of us on these pages, I’ve seen all the Hitchcock “greats.” But not A Shadow Of A Doubt. It was Hitch’s “favorite” movie. When I watched the excellent “Making of” feature on this DVD that I understood why. (Happily, when this documentary was produced, two of the movie’s stars—Hume Cronyn and Theresa Wright and the movie’s Assistant Director, were still with us to share memories. Peter Bogdanovich lends valuable perceptions, too.)
The director’s feelings do NOT mean Shadow of a Doubt is a great movie. Like most of us, Hitch wasn’t always objective. This production meant something special to him. Sadly, it means less to the rest of us.

One reason is—and I say this wistfully—we belong to the late 20th and early 21st century. It’s difficult for us to accept how people 85 years ago saw the world—because that world has changed and so have we. If this movie is accurate, average small-town residents were stunningly naive and gullible. It means another level of “suspension of disbelief” on our part beyond that required of war-time audiences. There are many scenes that are simply no longer credible. Couldn’t happen; wouldn’t happen. Would it have happened back then? Never mind, it’s all make-believe anyway. Isn’t it?
Well, not completely. Producer and director made the effort—and spent the money--to shoot ON LOCATION, in both down-at-the-heels New Jersey, and in small-town “Americana”, Santa Rosa, California. So, a lot of this movie is played for real--much more real than most features at the time, shot exclusively on make-believe back-lot “towns.” You even hear the realism in the quality of spoken dialogue—it echoes inside buildings. And much of the overlapping dialogue shared between family members is very real, too...terrific writing and terrific direction (with, Hitch’s wonderful use of the camera to lend more realism. He really “milks” those locations. Terrific stuff.)
For me, the movie falls apart in the second half. Dialogue so natural an hour earlier sounds forced. Situations don’t ring true.

Never mind—it’s still a fascinating movie experience and there’s a bonus: thanks to the producer’s willingness to foot the on-location bill and Hitch’s obvious relish in shooting “real America,” we’re treated to many sights and sounds of small-town USA, circa 1942, traffic, trains, streets, buildings, both inside and out. 80-odd years later, Shadow Of A Doubt is now something it was never intended to be: a cinematic time-machine.

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EvanSchoenfeld
Feb 12, 2019

Which is Hitchcock’s best, this or “North by Northwest?” Very hard call. His films usually breathe urbanity, but loosing a serial killer among innocent small towners was terrific. Teresa Wright brilliant; Joseph Cotton’s inscrutable evocation subtle and effective. Wonderful photography. On the other hand, no hair raising chase on Mount Rushmore. Hmm.

This is another relatively unknown film directed by Hitch that really packs a punch. He wasn't just a horror film director, you know. It was made on location in Napa, California.

t
ThomasJWhiting
Jun 26, 2018

GOOD 1943 early Alfred Hitchcock made in America film. I did enjoy and watched the whole film, but it didn't engage me (might have just been my mood) as much as his other films.
I did enjoy seeing new to me Teresa Wright (for first time I can remember) - quite a talented and beautiful actress.

a
AdrianJWallace
Jan 13, 2017

If you've never seen a Hitchcock film before, this is a great place to start. Witty, engaging script and fine performances from a talented ensemble cast. There's a powerful mood of mystery and suspense leading to a terrifying and satisfying conclusion. Easy to see why Hitchcock called it one of his personal favorites.

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sofa2001
Oct 25, 2016

My first Hitchcock. I LOVED it!

f
flexiduck
Aug 08, 2016

GREAT Hitchcock film. Totally engrossing and satisfying. Supposedly Hitchcock's favorite of his films. Joseph Cotton was excellent, and Teresa Wright, with whom I was previously not very familiar, was a real treat. (At age 25, her fourth movie and she had the top billing, probably not unrelated to her having received Academy Award nominations for her first three.)

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Onewhoissaved
May 13, 2016

"Shadow of a Doubt", 1942, Alfred Hitchcock at his best. I first saw this as a boy of maybe 10 and remember being mesmerized during the last few minutes. Joseph Cotton was perfect as Uncle Charlie. Theresa Wright was perfect as "Charlie", his beloved niece. He was beloved until she found out just who Uncle Charlie is. First came her suspicion about a man she had thought almost a god only to find out in the end that his is a devil. Hitchcock dealt with the blackest side of life and wretched people like no other director. No one knows what makes a murderer but Alfred obsessed with them. He also focused on blond actresses which Teresa Wright was not. The movie jacket lists her name before Joseph Cotton. When you watch this film remember that this is 1942, no CSI, no DNA, no computers, no cell phones, just plain human efforts at solving crime, one clue at a time.

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Nursebob
Mar 14, 2016

Although it did poorly at the box office, this dark tale of innocence corrupted by the arrival of evil was purported to be among director Alfred Hitchcock’s favourite collaborations. So strong is its sense of menace that it borders on horror causing more than one critic to compare the character of Uncle Charles to Bram Stoker’s "Dracula" in his ability to twist the minds of those around him especially his naïve niece who seems to be the only one capable of seeing the monster in the living room yet is helpless to sound the alarm. Filled with sunshine and small town American values which only serve to highlight the skulking wickedness in everyone’s midst, this is perhaps Hitchcock’s most ironic film and should therefore be on every fan’s “must see” list.

r
resisam
May 26, 2015

Hitchcock explores several recurring themes throughout his films in Shadow of a Doubt: doubles, a surface appearance of normality that hides underlying moral dubiousness, and absurdity. A master storyteller, Hitchcock leads the viewer through the experience of the story, rather than just showing. His use of shots from the perspective of the characters, extreme close ups during tense moments, and intense reveals lead to a very satisfying movie experience. Highly recommended.

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