Shadow of a Doubt (1943) Film Review A+

Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock
Produced by: Jack H. Skirball
Screenplay by Thornton Wilder, Sally Benson, and Alma Reville based on an idea/story by Gordon McDonell
Cinematography: Joseph Valentine
Edited by: Milton Caruth
Original Score: Dimitri Tiomkin (The Merry Widow Waltz by Franz Lehar)
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Starring: Teresa Wright, Joseph Cotten, MacDonald Carey, Patricia Collinge, Hume Cronyn, and Henry Travers.
BOTTOM LINE: Charlotte “Charlie” Newton is a bored teenage girl living in the idyllic town of Santa Rosa, California. She receives wonderful news: Her mother’s younger brother (her eponym, she was named after him), Charles Oakley, is arriving for a visit. Upon his arrival, everyone is delighted, especially young Charlie. As a gesture of affection, Uncle Charlie gives his niece an emerald ring. However, she notices that it has someone else’s initials engraved inside. Meanwhile, there is a manhunt for the “Merry Widow Murderer” on the East Coast. Working from a screenplay by Thornton Wilder (“Our Town”), Sally Benson (“Meet Me in St. Louis”), and his wife Alma Reville, Hitchcock captured the beauty of small-town life, courtesy of Santa Rosa better than any director before or since. And in Theresa Wright and Joseph Cotten, he had his perfect Charlies – the same coin but different sides. Like Olivia de Havilland, Wright, was one of the few actresses who could make true goodness palatable, and she is matched by a brilliant performance by Cotten, who radiates evil. An evil that is buried in a blanket of charm. The tremendous supporting cast of Patricia Collinge, Hume Cronyn, and Henry Travels are the jewels in the crown.
Hitchcock’s cameo: 0:16:27. On the train to Santa Rosa, playing cards, his back to the camera, he has a full hand of spades. Also note that as the forties became the fifties, Hitchcock’s famous cameo appearance occurred earlier in the movie so as not to distract the viewer.
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