XL Popcorn – Shadow of a Doubt

List Item: Watch all of the “1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die”
Progress: 660/1007
Title: Shadow of a Doubt
Directors: Alfred Hitchcock
Year: 1943
Country: USA

I’m going to make this a yearly tradition to watch a new Hitchcock for the 1001 list in the winter months. I have four left to do, which makes sense seeing my current watching pace. Last year I watched Marnie, which lacked a certain spark that allowed it to go from good to great. When it comes to Shadow of a Doubt it was a completely different story.

As with most of the great Hitchcock films Shadow of a Doubt is a two-handed affair with Teresa Wright (who won an Oscar in 1942 in Mrs. Miniver) and Joseph Cotten playing the roles of a niece and uncle called Charlie. The younger Charlie wishes for something interesting to come into her life and gets more than she bargained for as favourite her uncle travels in from the East. The thing is… her uncle may not be who he appears to be.

Being a Hitchcock film, it is always the safest option to trust your gut if it thinks a character is going to turn out to be the villain of the piece. Also, Cotten and his increasingly creepy performance are a massive clue that no matter what’s happening he is guilty as sin. Then again, that’s the whole point of this film; the joy comes from watching as his niece goes from adoration to suspicion to fear to resolve.

As much as Cotten gives an excellent performance as uncle Charlie, it is really Teresa Wright as the younger Charlie that helps this film to take flight. Having now seen here in this, Mrs Miniver and The Best Years of Our Lives it is hard to deny that this woman was an extreme talent… but her filmography just peters out. Makes me really want to read the biography should it ever come out in paperback.

It’s interesting to note that, repeatedly throughout his career, Hitchcock would refer to Shadow of a Doubt as one of his favourite films.  Having watched this, I might have to agree with him. It tells a far simpler and subtler story than the likes of Psycho or Rebecca, but there is something more thrilling about the idea of evil invading a small town home.

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