Shadow of a Doubt (1943)

DailyView: Day 202, Movie 288

The iconic director Alfred Hitchcock claimed that “Shadow of a Doubt” was his favorite movie in his list of classic films. I had never seen this black and white noir before and I do love Hitchcock, so I was looking forward to adding this to the list of DailyView.

Charlotte “Charlie” Newton (Teresa Wright) was becoming tired of her boring life in the small town in which she lived. So when her beloved Uncle Charlie Oakley (Joseph Cotten) announced that he was coming for a visit, she was thrilled that her namesake was joining them. Little did she know that Uncle Charlie was bringing more with him than she expected.

When two men, Jack (Macdonald Carey) and Joseph (Henry Travers), come to town interested in Uncle Charlie, Miss Charlie starts to doubt the sincerity of her uncle’s story and life.

Alfred Hitchcock is a master of suspense and building tension throughout a movie and he does so brilliantly with Shadow of a Doubt. The audience is aware of Uncle Charlie’s background early in the film, although there is still a question of exactly what he had done. We could see the shenanigans he was pulling on his family members who clearly adored him, making them much easier to manipulate. Who wants to see the worst in someone you love?

With Miss Charlie slowly putting the pieces together, even after refusing to believe what Jack had told her, you could see how the secret was tormenting the young woman, making her uncertain about what she could do.

The conclusion of the film was great and satisfying. The story was well constructed and took steps that continued to build to the eventual end. The scenes with the stairs and the car in the garage were exceptional, clouding what the expectations were for what was going to happen.

The performances were solid, especially from Joseph Cotten as the dark and brooding Uncle Charlie. It was fun to see Macdonald Carey, whom I knew for decades as Dr. Tom Horton on Days of out Lives, in a role that was different from what I was used to from him. Patricia Collinge, Hume Cronyn, Wallace Ford, and Edna May Wonacott all had important roles in the ensemble and they all provided memorable moments.

Hitchcock may have flashier and more well-known films in his oeuvre, but Shadow of a Doubt is certainly one to consider as one of his sleepers.

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