Better Know Your Hitchcock: Shadow of a Doubt

shadow-of-a-doubt-movie-posterDr. Girlfriend and I are on a major Alfred Hitchcock kick, and we thought we’d take you along for the ride. We’re going on a tour of some of his most famous films, a journey that’s sure to be filled with thrills, chills and other stuff that people thought would look good on a movie poster. I’m not going to bother scoring or all out reviewing Hitchcock’s movies because they’re all great, all classics – this is more of an awareness campaign reminding you to check ’em out.

1949’s Shadow of a Doubt is a Hitchcock jam beyond compare – Thornton Wilder was part of the screenplay team. Thornton. Fucking. Wilder. The presence of Wilder guarantees two things: the story kicks ass and takes place in a small town. (Somehow, almost everything Wilder did took place in a small town…) Anyway, Teresa Wright and Joseph Cotten star as niece and uncle who are both named Charlie; it’s Uncle Charlie who we meet first and see is on the run from something. He comes to stay with the younger Charlie at her parents’ home, to the delight of  the family, but it doesn’t take her long to suspect that something is amiss with her uncle.

The movie rolls on from there. Unlike other Hitchcock movies I’ve seen, there are no exotic locations or especially thrilling images (although there are many beautiful ones: for instance, the family meeting the train) – just a good story conveyed smoothly. Joseph Cotten is great from start to finish, but Teresa Wright really stole the show for me. Cotten gives his Charlie three faces: jovial, stern and repressed maniacal. He’s great at it, but it’s nothing unexpected – meanwhile, Wright brings exceptional life to her character with a vivid performance I enjoyed and absolutely believed. Maybe Wilder helped out, creating a wonderful story and the excellent dialogue, but as her feelings toward her uncle change over the course of the film, she knocks it out of the park.

Hitchcock was apparently quoted that this was one of his favorites, if not his favorite, of all his films, and it’s easy to see why: it looks great, the story is great and everyone is great in it – it’s just GREAT. Check it out.

About Jamie Insalaco

Jamie Insalaco is the author of, and editor in chief of

Posted on August 14, 2012, in movie review and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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