Shadow of a Doubt-1943
Starring-Joseph Cotten, Teresa Wright
Top 100 Films-#40
Reviewed June 28, 2013
Shadow of a Doubt is an Alfred Hitchcock film from 1943, made in black and white, that tells the story of a quaint California town with a killer in its midst. The town is idyllic and wonderful- folks go to church on Sunday and meet at the drug store for ice cream sodas. The film was shot on location in a real small town in California rather than a sound stage, adding much authenticity.
The Newton family is at the center of the thriller, led by Charlie (Teresa Wright), a young woman who idolizes her recently visiting Uncle, also named Charlie (Joseph Cotton). They are very close- almost like father and daughter. When Uncle Charlie is suspected of being the notorious Merry Widow Murderer, Charlie is conflicted. Could her Uncle be the murderer?
Shadow of a Doubt is one of Hitchcock’s simpler films and a huge plus is the town itself. It’s quiet, family oriented- what could possibly go wrong? But evil embodies the town and events slowly start to take a dark turn. A scene in which the family sits down for a quiet meal that turns into a conversation about death is famous and powerful. The train sequence is nicely shot. There is also a wonderful side plot involving two friends playing an innocent game of “how would I murder you?”, unaware of the irony of the game itself.
The film is not as flashy or complex as other Hitchcock films, specifically Vertigo, but that aspect actually works to its credit. Hitchcock adored the idea of a small town with foreboding secrets and this film is a quite the gem. Shadow of a Doubt is simply a good, old fashioned thriller, and certainly a must-see for Hitchcock fans.