Shadow of a Doubt Screen 94 of 9 reviews

Shadow of a Doubt

1943

Shadow of a Doubt Poster
  • Hitchcock's work in the close-up is especially relevant, and that one frame of the ring is searing. A few miscommunications with the pacing and a slapped on romance hold this back from being a masterpiece, but Alfred has nearly arrived, and his confidence is brimming underneath the freedom he gained from working within the Hollywood system.

  • Maybe Hitchcock’s first perfect film? Maybe his most perfect, too? Oh yeah, you can’t have degrees of perfection, can you? But maybe Hitchcock can. Absolutes become relative… SHADOW OF A DOUBT begins with the Universal globe, since like SABOTEUR this is a project made on loan-out to the free and easy Jack Skirball from the rigorous Selznick, and its brilliance should be enough to gainsay the suggestion that Hitchcock needed Selznick’s supervision to make mature films.

  • Despite being his sixth Hollywood production, Shadow of a Doubt is the picture where Hitchcock first discovered America, locating the mirror image for the ominous instability lurking barely an inch under the cozy surfaces of his native England. . . . The difference between Shadow of a Doubt and a hectoring good-versus-evil tract such as Watch on the Rhine that same year, however, lies in the way Hitch sees darkness as less an infiltrating outside force than as the repressed backside of normalcy.

  • Though it is marred at times by evasive comic relief, Shadow is perhaps Hitch's most concentrated and uncompromised artistic statement. Uncle Charlie is Hitchcock's most intense villain. He's not charming and childish like Robert Walker's Bruno in Strangers on a Train(1951), and he's never as touchingly sweet as Norman Bates. This man is a Nazi, he is a serial killer, he is without heart or conscience.

  • Hitchcock's inspiredly controlled camera work, in which he treats the visiting Uncle Charlie (Cotten) and the Santa Rosa niece Charlie (Wright) as dopplegängers of the same restless spriit makes their relationship one of the most profound in cinema. Wright, representing regional innocence, gives her finest performance, and Cotten, as the suspected Merry Widow murderer and a figure of cosmopolitan evil, puffs evocative smoke rings around his role.

  • Alfred Hitchcock's first indisputable masterpiece. . . . Hitchcock's discovery of darkness within the heart of small-town America remains one of his most harrowing films, a peek behind the facade of security that reveals loneliness, despair, and death. Thornton Wilder collaborated on the script; it's Our Town turned inside out.

  • And so we come to Shadow of a Doubt, which is (after Suspicion) Hitchcock's second important film. Here a sequence of 16 [shots] taken from the film itself would express perfectly what I want to say, but since that is impossible, words will have to replace it, inadequate as they are.

  • Sardonic details bubble up through the town’s veneer of brisk cheer to suggest the roiling passions it represses; in Hitchcock’s ironic vision, marriage is a haven from the mortal power of lust, and Santa Rosa is just one misstep away from Pottersville.

  • Wright is magnificent. And the movie is certainly very entertaining when it's strictly a battle of wits. I do like it. But I don't think it's saying anything trenchant about society's seamy underbelly, and way too much of it clangs for me to retain it in Hitchcock's top tier. I've made up my mind. I ain't wastin' no more time.

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