Shadow of a Doubt Movie Review

A minor classic in the Hitchcock library, Shadow of a Doubt is nonetheless a smashing film, a slow burn that involves the visit to town of Uncle Charlie (Joseph Cotten), who may or may not be the Merry Widow Murderer, a dashing villain who murders old women for their fortunes.

On the run, Charlie decides to hide out in sleepy Santa Rosa, a town that's not much different today than it was in Hitch's 1940s. His visit goes smoothly until a nosy cop and Charlie's inquisitive niece who is named after him (Theresa Wright) get all uppity and go snooping through Charlie's things. Before long, the jig is up.

Co-written by Our Town's Thornton Wilder, Shadow of a Doubt features one of Cotten's must intriguing and villainous roles ever. Normally a good guy, it is a real thrill to hear his mid-movie speech about the uselessness of "silly wives," whom he describes as "fat, freezing animals." The misogyny drips right off the screen. Also lively are Hume Cronyn and Henry Travers (It's a Wonderful Life) as elderly men obsessed with criminology and "the perfect murder," unaware that throughout their prattle a real killer might be lurking just across the table. The very premise -- what happens when you bring a killer into a small town -- is compelling and still vibrantly original.

One of Hitchcock's most haunting and misanthropic films (and according to his daughter, Hitch's favorite), Shadow deserves a place at the big table along with more widely seen classics like Rear Window and Vertigo.

Shadow's on the wall.

Comments

Shadow of a Doubt Rating

" Extraordinary "

Rating: NR, 1943

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