The Video Vacuum (thevideovacuum) wrote,
The Video Vacuum
thevideovacuum

SHADOW OF A DOUBT (1943) ***

It has been said that Shadow of a Doubt was Alfred Hitchcock’s favorite film that he ever directed.  It’s certainly not mine (that would be Psycho), but I can see why he would like it so much. 

 

Joseph Cotten stars as Uncle Charlie, a seemingly normal guy who goes to visit his niece and namesake (Teresa Wright) in California.  They have a mutual admiration for each other and even jokingly refer to each other as “twins” because they’re so much alike.  Slowly but surely though, Little Charlie starts to suspect her uncle is actually “The Merry Widow Murderer”; a serial strangler who preys upon rich widows. 

 

The film is at its best when Hitchcock focuses on the relationship between the two Charlies.  Cotten gives one of his most memorable performances as the charming yet sinister uncle and Wright is also quite engaging as his niece.  Unfortunately, the film is rife with one too many supporting characters that gum up the works and abruptly bring the suspense to a screeching halt.  The chief culprit is Hume Cronyn (in his film debut) as a murder obsessed neighbor who has constant discussions on how to perform the perfect murder with little Charlie’s father.  Although Cronyn’s performance is amusing and his character provides some trademark Hitchcock black humor, he greatly distracts from the central dynamic of Charlie’s relationship with his niece.  Flaws aside, it’s all worth it for the suspenseful climax, which ranks among Hitch’s best stuff.   

 

Hitchcock did Lifeboat (also with Cronyn) next. 

Tags: hitchcock, s, thriller
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