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Shadow of a Doubt

USA 1943
produced by
Jack H. Skirball for Universal
directed by Alfred Hitchcock
starring Teresa Wright, Joseph Cotten, Macdonald Carey, Henry Travers, Patricia Collinge, Hume Cronyn, Wallace Ford, Edna May Wonacott, Charles Bates, Irving Bacon, Clarence Muse, Janet Shaw, Estelle Jewell, Minerva Urecal, Virginia Brissac, Frances Carson, Earle S.Dewey, Vaughan Glasere, Ruth Lee, Constance Purdy, Isabel Randolph, Grandon Rhodes, Edwin Stanley
story by Godron McDonell, screenplay by Thornton Wilder, Sally Benson, Alma Reville, music by Dimitri Tiomkin

review by
Dale Pierce

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Film experts often mistakenly list this as the only time Joseph Cotten ever played a villain. This is not true, as he turned bad in Niagara, was a sadistic moinster brought back from the grave in Baron Blood and was the fanatical patriarch looking to restart the Civil War in Sergio Corbucci's The Hellbenders. Because his role of Uncle Charlie is so convincing, however, it might be excusable to look past his lesser villain roles and see this as his best, though definitely not the only part he ever did as a bad guy.

Uncle Charlie comes to visit relatives in northern California, where only his niece suspects there is something wrong with him. It ends up her suspicions are well founded for her beloved uncle is also The Merry Widow Killer, who romances, marries, then kills his brides a la Robert Mitchum's Reverand Tom in Night Of The Hunter.  Thus begins a cat and mouse game between the rwo of them, with many suspense filled moments like only this great director was capable of creating.

Acting-wise, young Teresa Wright is right up there with Cotten when it comes to playing her role as the suspicious young girl who discovers the truth about this man, who has everyone else hoodwinked. Viewers might well forget this is just a movie and sense she is in real danger as her uncle's madness becomes more and more obvious.  The buildup is typical of Hitchcock once again.

In the end, Hitchock designs a fabulous death for Uncle Charlie, as he is torn in half by a train. You read that right. if you have not seen the movie, get it and watch for yourself.

I suspect like Dario Argento, years later, when he had to kill his villains, Hitchcock truly loved to come up with elaborate deaths for them. Uncle Charlie in Shadow Of A Doubt is a prime example, but the ending for some of the other champions of evil in Strangers On A Train, North by Northwest, Sabotage, comes close. The way Charlie gets his though, happens so suddenly and so unexpectedly, you are left stunned watching.

 

review © by Dale Pierce

 

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directed by
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written by
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