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Shadow of a Doubt Reviews

Page 2 of 59
March 14, 2010
(First and only viewing - 9/22/2013)
August 25, 2013
After what people have told me about Hitchcock, I have to say I expected a more interesting story. This is not all that good and the ending is a bit silly really. I liked the cast though, Teresa Wright reminded me of Ellen Page, could've been her granny.
July 2, 2014
Alfred Hitchcock's earliest classics is an impressive and well performed film in the suspense genre.
May 29, 2014
One of Hitchcock's underrated ... great movie
April 26, 2014
This was his true masterpiece.
April 20, 2014
I hadn't revisited this Hitchcock classic (in some reports, his personal favorite) for a number of years and it's great. With the assistance of Thornton Wilder (Our Town), Hitch contrasts a highly insulated (insular?) American small town with a darker uglier world outside. He does this by showing the effects of the arrival of evil Uncle Charlie (the Merry Widow murderer - Joseph Cotten) on his heretofore innocent niece, Young Charlie (Teresa Wright). As the Master of Suspense (but not surprise), Hitch is able to prolong the audience's anxiety about Uncle Charlie and his doings, as the detectives descend on Santa Rosa (the town) and Young Charlie cottons on. He also takes the opportunity to work in his classic themes - the banality of evil (and "wrong-doing") and the complicity of guilt -- and to display his transgressive sense of humor (for example, Young Charlie's father Henry Travers and neighbor Hume Cronyn read true crime magazines and plot each other's murders). The movie is full of rhymes, starting with the two Charlies and extending to matching or doubled scenes, two suspects, two detectives, and so on. One of Hitchcock's most subversively wicked and fully realized films.
April 6, 2014
Shadow of a Doubt (1943) - 8

Fine movie from Hitchcock and perfect showcase of the charm and enchantment present in Classic Cinema apparently lost today. The pub scene, in particular, with Young Charlie and Uncle Charlie and the waitress in the middle really deserves to be seen and lived in all it's Bluray quality splendor, I wish I was there. Contemporary sensibilities might find the acting very... theatrical, but this was the style of the time and didn't detract from my enjoyment, I was grabbed by the movie from start to finish. First of several movies from the "Master of Suspense" I'll be watching in the coming times.
Mike N.
March 21, 2014
A great suspenseful and entertaining movie.
Cameron W. Johnson
Cameron W. Johnson

Super Reviewer

March 11, 2014
In 1941, Alfred Hitchcock just had "Suspicion", but now there isn't... or is a "Shadow of a Doubt". Yeah, without the "Beyond", it's kind of hard to guess the full level of urgency to this mystery thriller, regarding the possibility of an evil deed being done. Hey, Hitchcock is the Master of Suspense, so either his titles are even supposed to drive you mad with wonderment... or I'm just making up nonsense as I go along because there really is so much ambiguity to this film that it's hard to figure out what to talk about. I mean, it's Hitchcock, and by 1943, alone, he had a pretty firm formula down as a thriller storyteller, and yet, this was one of the first ones that people really remembered. Well, that's probably because, for 1943, it actually was kind of thrilling, at least more so than "Suspicion", which was alright and all, but not particularly eventful. Granted, there's only so much momentum to this thriller, seeing as how there's apparently still a shadow of doubt keeping things from really hitting the fan. Still, the point is that this film is not simply a little more exciting than "Suspicion", but actually pretty darn decent, despite the flaws.

With all my ramblings about rambling thrillers like Alfred Hitchcock's "Suspicion", a film held back largely by natural shortcomings, this film itself has its conceptual limitations, of which there aren't enough to prevent compellingness from consistently standing firm, yet nevertheless enough to limit potential that is further shaken by familiarity. On top of being kind of thin, the path followed by this film is too familiar for its own good, or at least seems to, because among its tropes are Hollywood histrionics that are rarely all that carried away, and are ultimately pretty limited in quantity, but still recurring enough, as well as severe enough, to deliver on some questionably dated dialogue and melodramatics. Quite frankly, the big issue behind the histrionics is their betrayal of subtlety, for although this suspense thriller has enough sober intensity to thoroughly intrigue time and again, those lapses in subtlety all but aggravate in their shaking the thriller's genuineness, in addition to the dramatic momentum. Of course, the drama's momentum is not the only loose element to storytelling here, as structural momentum is itself questionable, as the generally solid, though arguably overblown scripting team of Thornton Wilder, Sally Benson and Alma Reville have their moments in which they leave certain segments to feel tight, and leave others to feel draggy, resulting in an inconsistency in pacing that is all but outdone by an inconsistency in tone. Not unlike something like "Suspicion", this film gets too lighthearted with its dramatic build-ups, so much so that when tensions begin to rise, they go rather undercut by tonal unevenness, which isn't to say that the dramatic heights are all that soaring, not so much because of storytelling hiccups, but by the natural shortcomings. Hitchcock's direction, at the very least, is actually inspired enough to transcend natural shortcomings and make a mighty compelling and ultimately rewarding dramatic thriller, but it all comes back to the natural shortcomings, which limit dramatic depth, further limited by all of the inconsistencies in tone, pacing and subtlety. Speaking of subtlety, the film runs a risk of subtly, but surely, collapsing into underwhelmingness, yet when it's all said and done, the thriller doesn't simply compel adequately, but proves to be worthy as Hitchcock's first true triumph as a thriller filmmaker, with impact, and even good looks.

Limited by technical limitations of the time, Joseph Valentine's cinematography actually used the shortcomings of the time pretty effectively, carrying a certain fitting black-and-white palette whose bleakness goes reinforced by dapper plays on shadows that draw you into the near-claustrophobically intense environment that this thriller thrives on. Even more essential in the driving of this type of tight thriller is, of course, the characters, who are brought to life about as effectively as the visual style is, in this case by then-solid and still-impressive performances whose subtle dramatic layering is sometimes ahead of the time, and consistently effective. Joseph Cotten proves to be particularly impressive in his slickly charismatic and atmospherically intense portrayal of a seemingly caring man with deep, dark secrets that he can filter out only so much, so much so that Cotten, especially when working with an emotionally roughed Teresa Wright, drives much of this thriller whose bite relies on the minimal, perhaps too much so. Again, in addition to being formulaic, the story concept is kind of thin in scope, having an intentional tightness that threatens compellingness, but also establishes a potential for it through human intensity that screenwriters Sally Benson, Alma Reville and Thornton Wilder sell through well-rounded characterization, and an attention to light bite that was refreshing at the time, and has aged well. Well, maybe the compellingness hasn't aged especially gracefully, but make no mistake, it is ultimately secured, because if there is meat to this idea, its juiced and drawn upon about as much as it can be by highlights in the acting, script and, above all, direction. What can make or break this potentially underwhelming minimalist thriller is, of course, Alfred Hitchcock, who, through this film, surely had to be revelatory as a thriller filmmaker, because where the film's steadiness could have devolved into dullness, Hitchcock's thoughtful storytelling is realized enough in its celebration of bleak style and audacious material to immerse you into the narrative, whose gradual build in intensity is sold every step of the way enough for the film to grow more and more compelling as the plot thickens. I don't suppose the plot ever thickens all that substantially, yet meat never thins all that substantially either, and between thickness and thinness, Hitchcock cuts far enough to the bone to keep you attached, until the shortcomings are, if you will, over"shadowed" by thorough intrigue.

Once the shadows lift, reward value finds itself all but obscured by conventions, subtlety lapses, and pacing and tonal inconsistencies to the telling of an almost thin narrative, yet pronounced enough through fine cinematography, solid performances, - especially by Joseph Cotten - well-characterized writing, and biting direction to make Alfred Hitchcock's "Shadow of a Doubt" rewarding as one of the Master of Suspense's first triumphs in suspenseful cinema.

3/5 - Good
July 23, 2010
Shadow of a Doubt is one of my favorite Hitchcock films I've yet to see. There's something so compelling about Charlie Oakley, who is a man on the run. He's charismatic, charming and well-spoken, but secretive. Joseph Cotten seems the perfect actor for this role as he can also pull off the menacing look a character like Charlie needs.

Spoiler Alert I guess, I was thinking almost hoping that a twist would happen somewhere along the line where Cotten's character would be revealed to be innocent (which kind of did happen, but not exactly), and all the misleading evidence would be explained. Well, this didn't happen, but I kept thinking that he really wasn't a serial killer. Even after the death traps for some reason I still remained skeptical, although it should've been obvious at that point. I think that's what made my viewing so compelling though - I thought just as Charlie Newton did, that he couldn't have been the killer. I think that perspective is useful in relating to Teresa Wright's character and it makes Charlie Oakley seem that much more mysterious and interesting.

Regardless, it's a great movie.
March 3, 2014
The plot is indeed mediocre comparing with other Hitchcock's films. Besides, the implausible happy ending concludes the story with horrendous dissatisfaction.
May 7, 2009
Hitchcock at his finest! I loved this story and the conclusion is just wonderful.
February 21, 2014
A slow but exciting thriller where the two main characters, united by an almost telepathic bond, are at the center of everything, with their depth and ambiguos psychologies.
February 4, 2014
wow stunning......brilliant....amazing.....i have just seen this movie 4 the 1st time n think that this is a great movie 2 watch......its got a good cast of actors/actressess throughout this movie......i think that joseph cotten (.R.I.P.), teresa wright (.R.I.P.), macdonald carey (.R.I.P.), henry travers (.R.I.P.), hume cronyn (.R.I.P.), play good roles/parts thorughout this movie......i think that the director of this drama/mystery/suspense/classics movie had done a great job of directing this movie because you never know what 2 expect throughout this movie.......i think that this is such a really well written/acted/directed movie 2 watch.......i think that this is such a classics movie 2 watch......Hitchcock's cameo
Alfred Hitchcock appears about 15 minutes into the film, on the train to Santa Rosa, playing bridge with a man and a woman (Dr. and Mrs. Harry). Charlie Oakley is traveling on the train under the assumed name of Otis. Mrs. Harry is eager to help Otis, who is feigning illness in order to avoid meeting fellow passengers, but Dr. Harry is not interested and keeps playing bridge. Dr Harry replies to Hitchcock that he doesn't look well while Hitchcock is holding a full suit of spades, the best hand for bridge.......i think that this is such a brilliantly acted movie.......its such a really powerful drama movie 2 watch.......i think that the director keeps you on the edges of your seats throughout this movie as you do not know what 2 expect throughout this movie........i think that this is such a brilliant movie 2 watch......i think that this is such a great movie for 1943 its such a really well directed movie 2 watch.....i think that joseph cotten was brilliant throughout this movie.....i think that this is such a great movie 2 watch.,.....i think that this is such a really well directed/written/acted movie 2 watch its such a superb movie 2 watch its so really well directed its such a really suspenseful movie 2 watch its such a really well acted movie 2 watch.....i think that this is such a brilliant movie 2 watch its so really well made its such a really well written/acted/directed movie 2 watch its such a brilliant movie 2 watch with a great cast throughout this movie its such a brilliant movie 2 watch........
January 25, 2014
Shadow of a Doubt is well-acted and warm and it has nicely developed characters, but it also has a very abrupt ending, a story which is never as suspenseful and engaging as you want it to be and it is an overall a pretty ordinary picture by Hitchcock standards.
Kevin Rimney
November 9, 2013
Getting to know Hitchcock, a well crafted story and good acting but nothing to make me think this is a true classic, something worth multiple viewings. Just a well made film, drama, suspense genre of the mid 40's. I don't believe it has aged well, 70 years ago I'd have probably given it 100%.
January 13, 2014
Finally watched this Hitchcock classic for my Movie Shame Monday selection in mind, and it was well worth the wait. Joseph Cotten is deliciously oily and menacing as Uncle Charlie, and Teresa Wright gives a great performance as his namesake who may very well be his undoing.

Great stuff.

December 30, 2011
Have you ever had a family member that you dearly love who has been keeping a dark secret about themselves from you for your whole life? If so, then you'll be the first to relate to the main character of Alfred Hitchcock's 1943 mystery Shadow of a Doubt. Our main protagonist is Charlotte "Charlie" Newton (Teresa Wright), a bored teenager in a small California town who has just learned that her uncle (Joseph Cotten), with the same name, is coming to town to visit her and her family. During his visit, she notices that her uncle is acting very odd at times, mainly when he refuses to have his picture be taken by strangers. Things change further when she discovers the last thing that her uncle would want her to discover, that he may indeed be a murderer on the run.

Director Alfred Hitchcock considered Shadow of a Doubt his favorite film out of all the films he made. Coming from the same talented filmmaker who made Rear Window (1954), Vertigo (1958), North by Northwest (1959), and Psycho (1960), that's a high honor indeed. Looking at it again, I can certainly understand why that might be. It's basically a story about a young woman who goes through the most backstabbing situation she could find herself in. That, of course, being that she has a family member whom she can no longer trust because of a crime they committed. What's worse is that she wanted to know what secret this person was keeping from her in the first place. It's devastating because she sees another side to this person that she never thought she'd see and also didn't want them to become.

Shadow of a Doubt tells a powerful story that reminds us that there are going to be family members that aren't always going to be as trustworthy as we think they will be. No matter how hard we try to keep in touch with everyone in our families, there's always going to be difficulty in keeping tabs on each other and trying to know everything about a certain family member. In the case of the relationship between Uncle Charlie and Charlotte's mother Emma (Patricia Collinge), we have a brother-sister relationship in which the brother is trying to keep a secret that would separate him from his sister further.

If there are times in this movie in which you have to close your eyes because the worst thing imaginable is about to happen to these characters, then that means this film is doing its job. The reason being is that through all this dread with Charlotte emotionally separating further from her uncle, there is underlying suspense that indicates that it only gets worse. The screenplay by Thornton Wilder, Sally Benson, and Alma Reville creates tension all throughout the film and makes these characters feel real. It's fascinating that Charlotte's father (Henry Travers) invites his neighbor (Hume Cronyn) over for dinner every night just to talk about committing the perfect crime. All I can say is it's no wonder Charlotte doesn't react kindly to these conversations at dinner on top of her dilemma with her uncle.

I sincerely believe that films and shows along the lines of Breaking Bad owe their existence to this masterful thriller. Joseph Cotten is chillingly good as the fishy uncle and Teresa Wright is full of life as his most cherished niece. The plot is powerful and very well paced by Hitchcock and his screenwriters. To talk any more about Shadow of a Doubt would only spoil the suspense along with your enjoyment of seeing it firsthand. So by all means, check out this Hitchcock classic and see why it's Hitchcock's own personal favorite.
November 2, 2013
I could gush for pages and days about Hitchcock. His films made me a fan of Thrillers, and his contribution to the history of cinema is incalculable.

Shadow of a Doubt is a great example of his work because it showcases Hitchcock's unique framing techniques, and it also features one of the best misogynist rants in the history of cinema. Joseph Cotten, as Uncle Charlie, opines extensively and intensely about Merry Widows in a classic Uncomfortable Family Dinner scene.

The film also features many common Hitchcock motifs such as the staircase and the train. Plus, there is a wonderful subplot involving the father and his neighbor in a long running discussion about how to plan the perfect murder.
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