This weeks film is Shadow of a Doubt, a film which Hitchcock constantly claimed to be his favourite of his own work. This is something which obviously raised the bar when going into watching the film and I can’t help but feel disappointed afterwards. 

WHAT HAPPENED?
‘Rich‘ Uncle Charlie (Joseph Cotten) decides to visit his quiet, average family in the middle of nowhere. It isn’t long before his niece (Teresa Wright) – who is also named Charlie after him – become suspicious of his motives for visiting them, particularly his reluctance to converse with two harmless men and refusal to have his photo taken.

THE GOOD

The film builds well, it is a slow, tense film in which nothing happens yet it does at the same time, if that makes sense. In other words the film is quite dialogue heavy, with little action. This however leads to an extreme tenseness throughout the film in scenes which would not necessarily seem dramatic, for example Young Charlie racing to the library before its closed.

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The film is also an exquisite example of visual storytelling, with key plot points told visually through the use of a newspaper and clever camera movements.

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The film is also good in the sense that it keeps you on the edge as you try to remember figure out who the good guy is and who is evil. This balance is perfectly crafted as all characters seem to sway in one direction then the other; keeping the audience on their toes without them becoming bored. It is this that is the true mastery of the film and something which makes me see why Hitchcock preferred this from all his work.

THE BAD

The films ending is again disappointing and I have noticed this is a common feature of Hitchcock films, the endings are either amazing or ridiculously bad. Unfortunately this film falls into the latter, with events taking a very unforeseen twist.

The film also has many moments which come across as ‘cheesy’ for example a scene where Young Charlie is courted seems ridiculous; this however is due to the modern perceptions of romance against those of the time in which the film was made and therefore shouldn’t really be a factor on which the film is judged. Saying this however it did hinder my enjoyment of the film and thus is mentioned.

CAMEO O’CLOCK

Hitchcock makes a rather long cameo in the film, playing cards on the train. At the end of his cameo there is a close-up on the cards revealing he is holding the entire suit of spades. Oh Hitch, you mad man.

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FINAL THOUGHTS

Shadow of a Doubt is a film I enjoyed on the whole but somehow didn’t. I think this is due to the high expectations to which it was set, knowing that Hitchcock liked this film more than say a masterpiece such as Rear Window made me expect something very special or at least very Hitchcockian. This film however contains no moments of true cinematic magic and nothing truly memorable. Therefore it can be awarded only 4 Hitchs. 

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