Monday, May 3, 2010

196. Shadow of a Doubt

Shadow of a Doubt (1943)

Director: Alfred Hitchcock

Starring: Joseph Cotten
Teresa Wright

IMDb Rating: 8

My Rating: 8

"I have a feeling there's something inside you that nobody knows about... something secret and wonderful. I'll find it out."

Charlotte Newton (Teresa Wright) is growing bored with her mundane life at home. Everything just seems the same. She decides that a visit from her Uncle Charlie (Joseph Cotten), whom she is named after, should lift her spirits. Charlotte feels that he is really the only one that understands her. She heads to the post office to mail him a letter, but while is out receives a telegraph saying that her uncle will be coming to visit. This excites Charlotte and she explains this event as an example of the connection that she and her uncle share.

When Charlie arrives he charms the local ladies club, and becomes quite popular around town as well. As we saw before Charlie left town to visit his family, two detectives are following him closely. We find that Charlie may be suspected to be the murderer of a series of East Coast widows, who is commonly referred to as the "Merry Widow Murderer." As Charlie's stay becomes longer, his actions become stranger leading Charlotte to investigate at her local library. What she finds could change her family and her Uncle Charlie's lives forever.

Shadow of a Doubt is a good film, but if you go into the film expecting a classic Hitchcock twist or something to that effect, you might be disappointed. The film doesn't have that shocking conclusion like say Vertigo or Psycho did, but it is a very solid story. Where this film shines is in the character of Uncle Charlie. You can account the character's brilliance to both the writing and the performance of Joseph Cotten. Either way, the manner the character seems to be just going along normally even though he is being accused of murder, lends perfectly to either his innocence or insanity. So Shadow might be a little straight forward, but it is still quite good.

In my mind, Shadow of a Doubt plays out like what it would be like if an accused serial killer was a member of a typical 1950's television sitcom family. When viewed this way, the film takes on a completely different dimension. I am unaware if this was Hitchcock's intention, but it is definitely the way I would go into viewing the film. Overall, the movie keeps you guessing till the end in true fashion of the master director. It is however one of his least suspenseful films. What it lacks in suspense though, it makes up in excellent storytelling. A fun piece of trivia: this was Alfred Hitchcock's favorite film of his own.

No comments:

Post a Comment