Shadow of a Doubt

1943

Shadow of a Doubt

Critics Consensus

Alfred Hitchcock's earliest classic -- and his own personal favorite -- deals its flesh-crawling thrills as deftly as its finely shaded characters.

100%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 35

90%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 19,408
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Shadow of a Doubt Photos

Movie Info

his is about the relationship between Uncle Charlie and his niece. He seems to be a good man on the surface, however, secrets about him soon become revealed to his niece and she will need to make choices that could end up destroying the whole family.

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Cast

Joseph Cotten
as Uncle Charlie
Macdonald Carey
as Jack Graham
Hume Cronyn
as Herbie Hawkins
Henry Travers
as Joseph Newton
Wallace Ford
as Fred Saunders
Irving Bacon
as Station Master
Charley Bates
as Roger Newton
Charles Bates
as Roger Newton
Patricia Collinge
as Emma Newton
Clarence Muse
as Railroad Porter
Janet Shaw
as Louise
Estelle Jewell
as Girl Friend
Minerva Urecal
as Mrs. Henderson
Isabel Randolph
as Mrs. Green
Earle Dewey
as Mr. Norton
Eily Malyon
as Librarian
Edward Fielding
as Doctor on Train
Sarah Edwards
as Doctor's Wife on Train
Vaughan Glaser
as Dr. Phillip
Virginia Brissac
as Mrs. Phillip
Grandon Rhodes
as Rev. MacCurdy
Ruth Lee
as Mrs. MacCurdy
Edwin Stanley
as Mr. Green
Frances Carson
as Mrs. Poetter
Byron Shores
as Detective
John McGuire
as Detective
Constance Purdy
as Mrs. Martin
Shirley Mills
as Young Girl
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Critic Reviews for Shadow of a Doubt

All Critics (35) | Top Critics (6)

Audience Reviews for Shadow of a Doubt

  • May 28, 2017
    Hitchcock said this was his favorite film, and there is a quiet evil about it that makes it truly horrifying. Uncle Charlie (Joseph Cotten) is on the run from the law on the East Coast, and he settles in with his sister and her family in Santa Rosa. Trouble is just behind him though, and it gets worse when his niece (also 'Charlie', named after him, and played by Teresa Wright) begins to suspect him of being the "Merry Widow Murderer". I considered a slightly higher rating, but thought the pace in the first half of the movie was a little slow. Some of the tension is also missing because we're pretty darn sure Uncle Charlie is guilty. On the other hand, there is a real small town feeling to this setting, helped in no doubt by Thornton Wilder being one of the screenwriters, and the characters of Charlie's father (Henry Travers) and his friend (Hume Cronyn) passing the time by talking about the perfect murder are absolutely priceless. The second half, including the increasing revelation of Uncle Charlie's dark views of humanity and the lengths to which he will go to protect himself, is what make the film so sinister. As the movie came out during WWII, it seems to have a direct parallel to the evil leaders loose in the world, particularly in the film's final scene.
    Antonius B Super Reviewer
  • Mar 29, 2016
    The title's doubt grows in us much before it is planted inside the character's mind halfway through this superbly-written story, which is a testament to how this tense, suspenseful mystery is slowly and carefully built in what is one of Hitchcock's most steadily-paced thrillers.
    Carlos M Super Reviewer
  • Aug 04, 2015
    Overrated Hitchcock thriller with excellent performances from the entire cast including Joseph Cotten as a psychopath, Teresa Wright as the niece that grows suspicious of her uncle. 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.
    Aldo G Super Reviewer
  • Mar 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
    Cameron J Super Reviewer

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