Shadow of a Doubt Reviews
(Full review coming soon - with better wording probably)
The film fascinates throughout, but critics seems to overlook a number of plot imperfections that give me much more than a shadow of a doubt that this is Hitchcock's most brilliant film as some critics contend.
Still worth the look especially for the staging of certain scenes between Cotten and Wright.
Saw this on 28/6/15
What's most disappointing is to know that this dim and predictable film was Hitchcock's personal favourite. Teresa Wright gives a meaningful performance, but like all the other old Hollywood films, this one too is diminished by the fact that they all end with a predictable happy end and good triumphs over evil. This is not a serial killer film like Psycho or Frenzy, it's more like a drama from Hitchcock. It's well acted and marginally enjoyable, but I could never really get into it.
I tend to be wary when I watch old movies, maybe just because I always expect something like Citizen Kane: apparently extremely well-regarded, but ultimately a little boring. I figured it'd be different with this movie, since it's Hitchcock, who always makes thrilling movies, but I still had my concerns. But I was totally held the whole way through.
This movie isn't a thriller in the same way that a lot of modern-day thrillers are. There wasn't any explicit violence until the last few scenes, and even then, it was pretty tame. Still, though, it's suspenseful, because you don't know exactly what Uncle Charlie's secret is, and even though you can kind of assume it's murder, it's tense knowing that he has a secret and younger Charlie doesn't know.
It's a really interesting dynamic between the two. The movie starts with young Charlie's devotion to him almost a little too much - there's some uncomfortable sexual tension between them - but that makes it even sadder when Charlie slowly begins to realize the rumors about her uncle are correct, and her expressions of idolatry slowly turn to confusion, anxiety, and a subtle somberness. Teresa Wright is such a bubbly, sunny presence as Charlie, and Joseph Cotten is good at the kind of charming and charismatic yet secretive and deeply contemptuous character. That scene where he described how rich women deserved to die was pretty tense, and as the movie went on, I couldn't believe how evil he became, especially considering I thought the movie was going to feature him more as an antihero. But when Uncle Charlie started actually making attempts on Charlie's life, I was shocked.
There were a couple silly things, mostly having to do with Jack Graham, the detective. The timing is kind of awkward in one scene, with Charlie suddenly yelling, "You're a detective, aren't you?" or whatever before the transition had even finished, with little to no buildup. Also, when Graham said he loved her, it was a little unbelievable considering they only had one date, basically. Everyone at my screening laughed a little when he said that. To the movie's credit, though, Charlie actually rejected him, which I wasn't expecting as much. There's no real 'happily ever after' for Charlie and Jack, though we don't know what happens after the events of the movie.
Besides, there were a lot of really nice touches that made up for any small grievances I had. There were a lot of really funny moments in the movie, usually due to the younger two siblings. That girl (Anne I think?) is hilarious, isn't she? Almost every line she said made me laugh. She was so cute and funny. I also was surprised to be entertained by all the conversations between the father and Herb. That little subplot was nice comic relief, and I enjoyed how it dovetailed with the main plot when Charlie overheard them and exploded at the family.
Overall, this was a great first Hitchcock experience, and I'm really looking forward to watching more of his stuff.
A bulletproof Hitchcock classic thriller with finely observed and strongly written characters, the know it all little girl being a highlight, and a great concept at its heart that's perfectly brought to the screen in timeless fashion. Unlike a lot of films from the era the pacing still holds up very well with the suspense bubbles up nicely throughout leading to an exciting intense final chapter. The way in which the uncle (Joseph Cotten) smoothly operates means that it never becomes hard to believe in the events that unfold, and in the manner in which they do. This is one of the somewhat few films ever made that is unmissable for all true cinema fans, and an everlasting treat for all time.