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4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
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on 3 March 2017
This film for me,is one of my alltime favourites by Alfred Hitchcock.If you are seeing this film for the first time,don't read up on it you will enjoy it all the more.If you are a Hitchcock fan this is definately one of his best.
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on 20 June 2017
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on 29 May 2008
First things first, I need to justify giving Shadow of a Doubt 5 stars. Yes, it is in black and white, no it's not the best soundtrack from Hitchcock however it is a true cinematic spectacle and that is enough to give it this high rating.

The story is simple, about an apparently 'average family'. Hitch believed that he could make a film full of suspense out of any ordinary script, this could be considered to be true of SOAD. That is not to say that it is badly written or A dull or fantastic plot, the fact is, its likeability lies in the simplicity of the film's characters. The story is basically about a man on the run from the law who visits his sister and her family.

What I love about it is the change of our identification of the characters from the hero over to the heroine - from Charles to Charlie. Where the film differs from other films of the epoch is the director's skill. Unlike the two-dimensional techniques of some, by 1942 Hitch had begun to establish himself in Hollywood as a great director. His motif in SOAD is the shadows; using lighting and different camera angles to create a POV that not only shows what the characters see, but that also tell how the audience to feel.

A very well rounded film, and I genuinely mean this when i say - the film is perfectly cast. The male lead is a familiar face across the Hitchcockian canon, both lead females couldnt have been changed, and there is a subtle comedy that adds a delightful warmth to the movie with the Holmes and Watson-esque characters of the Father and his friend.

I refuse to talk about the films famous ending as even noting the smallest details would unravel the entire film. Perhaps the film is famous for being Hitch's favourite, for as it's final lines suggest the world 'needs a lot of watching' - a definition of cinema, just as this film is the definitive Hitchcock. A real pleasure to watch, that truly has stood the test of time.
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on 29 June 2009
One of Alfred Hitchcock's first American movies, 1943's Shadow of a Doubt is a great film in many respects, even though, to those more familiar with the director's later works, it does not immediately come across as a particularly `Hitchcockian' one.
It tells the story of Young Charlie (Teresa Wright), a teenage girl in a small Californian town, who comes to suspect that her family's beloved Uncle Charlie (Joseph Cotton) may actually be the infamous `Merry Widow Murderer'. The film is less of a cinematic thrill ride than some of Hitchcock's other films, and more a character study of a warped and dangerous man, and the potential for disaster he brings home to his `normal' family. And though the story is a compelling and ultimately satisfying one, the viewer is left with the feeling that Hitch wasn't quite firing on all cylinders when he made the film.
Reputedly the great director's favourite of all the movies he made, Shadow of a Doubt has less in common with his other `American family gone rotten' works like Strangers on a Train and Psycho, and more with other `dangerous intruder into a small town' films like Orson Welles' The Stranger and Charles Laughton's The Night of the Hunter. Joseph Cotton gives possibly his most famous and impressive movie performance in this film (though as he was also in Citizen Kane and The Third Man, the film doesn't quite rate as his best overall), whilst Teresa Wright impressively carries the bulk of the running time with her detailed turn as the confused, caring, and yet unexpectedly ruthless niece.
The film is not without problems. The most disappointing thing about the movie is its lack of typically `Hitchcockian' set-pieces; though the film's opening scenes show a certain amount of flair in the camerawork, both of Cotton's later attempts to murder Wright (by first sabotaging a staircase, and then trying to poison her with car exhaust fumes) come and go without any real build-up or consequence. The supporting performances are variable as well; Henry Travers (Clarence the Angel in It's a Wonderful Life) and Hume Cronyn are both superb as, respectively, Wright's father and a faintly odd neighbour, but Patricia Collinge's winsome turn as Wright's emotionally childlike mother very quickly stops being interesting and instead becomes simply irritating. The twenty-nine year-old Macdonald Carey, too, isn't really right for the character of the investigator on Cotton's tail, coming across as less of a canny detective and more of a lunk-headed High School quarterback.
Carey's character is central to the film's most unfortunate and least convincing sub-plot, the faintly-drawn romance between the detective and the teenage girl. Whilst it never dominates the movie, this angle does seem superfluous and draws attention away from the film's most striking aspect, which is the teenage Wright's undeniable attraction the glamorous and charismatic Cotton.
Whilst the character of Young Charlie may not be attracted to her uncle in an explicitly physical way, their mental `connection' still carries an unsavoury whiff of two people who are far closer than they really should be, given the nature of their relationship. Wright tries to rationalise that they are more like twin siblings than an uncle and niece, but there is no doubt that she responds directly to the excitement caused by having her worldly and adventurous relative around; when she encounters her girlfriends whilst out walking with Cotton, Wright is clearly excited by the idea that they have mistaken him for a handsome suitor, a scene unfortunately diluted in impact when the same friends see Wright out on a date with Carey later in the film and arrive (this time correctly) at exactly the same conclusion.
The unhealthy philosophy of Cotton's character, and the spell he weaves over his family (Wright in particular) remains the most interesting point of the film, and in the second half, once Wright is in no doubt that her uncle is indeed the hunted `Merry Widow Murderer', she is troubled not only by his true nature, but also by self-disgust at the fact that she has for so long regarded the man as a kindred spirit. With the impressionable, unfulfilled young woman responding to the attraction of a charismatic older man who also happens to be a psychopathic killer, the film provides a foretaste of the relationship between Clarice Starling and Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs; although here, with the two characters related by blood (and the duality theme made obvious by having both characters called Charlie), this angle is arguably even more disquieting.
By no means Hitchcock's best, but certainly in his top ten, Shadow of a Doubt is well worth catching. This is a reasonably good DVD edition, with an interesting documentary on the film's production, including comments from Wright and Cronyn, as well as the original trailer.
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on 29 March 2016
good value for money.
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on 24 October 2011
This was one of Hitchcock's favourite creations, and with good reason. This superbly crafted film focuses on the relationship between an uncle leading a double life, and his beloved neice who, we soon realise, is not as naive as she initially appears. She is soon filled with a dawning horror as to what he has done, and how it will affect her family, particularly her mother. The rest of the family is brought to life in typical Hitchcockian fashion, with a hefty dollop of very black humour to offset the sinister proceedings (the irony of young Charlie's father and best friend Herb, crafting the "perfect murder"). Cotten steals the show with his quite hideous set pieces about how humans are basically greedy and not really fit to be called humans at all... but don't let me spoil it for you. Forget about what we now consider frightening in a film, and let the master do his stuff. First class movie that deserves more kudos. PS. if you like this, give "The trouble with Harry" a bash - VERY black humour!!!
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on 27 July 2013
It's a very compelling mystery, featuring a lovely young girl (Teresa Wright) who adores her charming and handsome Uncle Charlie. Indeed, she is named after him. But when he comes to visit her idyllic Midwestern home and family this time, she has reason to suspect him of the most heinous crimes. Amidst the tranquil domesticity of a peaceful household, the chilling truth about Uncle Charlie is especially poignant. Although lesser known than many Hitchcock films, it is reputedly his personal favorite and in many ways, mine, too.
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I watched this film in astonishment: not only does it have psychological depth that is in no other Hitchcock film, but the sense of dread in it builds slowly and inexorably to a frightening climax. The best part of this by far is Teresa Wright's performance, as the intelligent child who enters adulthood as she sees a terrible truth she cannot deny. I was utterly riveted by her introspective performance and natural beauty.

The story is that a serial killer, Cotton, decides to hide at his sister's house, far away from his hunting ground in the northeast. It is clear that he is the killer from the very beginning, so there is no suspense about that. Once in CA, he meets his sister and his niece, Charlie, both of whom adore him. However, it becomes clear that neither of them recognizes him for what he is: a sociopath and con man on his last desperate run.

The emotional center is Teresa Wright, who cannot ignore her suspicions at his strange yet simple behavior. Not only does she observe him, but he makes cryptic and frightening utterances to her that seem to reveal what he really is underneath.

The most amazing thing is that nothing much really happens. And yet a sense of menace and terror grows until it is undeniable. This makes it the best kind of psychological thriller: most of the development is internal, as revealed by the body language of Wright, in her perfect acting. Cotton too is great, a creepy presence who emerges from the shadows now and then, whose actions occur almost entirely offstage. Of course, young Charlie's parents and siblings form the perfect backdrop, normal people unaware of the drama going on inside of her, yet curiously reflecting the mind of the older Charlie, who is charming the entire town. Wright wants to protect all of them from the truth as it dawns on her, a grief that will mark her and her alone for the rest of her life.

Highest recommendation. No wonder this is Hitchcock's favorite of all his films.
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on 23 February 2004
Shadow of a doubt lacks the big scenes and stars of other Hitch films, but that's the point. This was the first of his US films to look at small town life & relationships in America, and in the way it's done it steals a march on many family dramas, both of film noir & later styles, including Blue Velvet. The use of perspective in the film helps you get inside the head of young Charlie as she begins to understand the motives of her uncle Charlie(Joseph Cotten). Cotten, as ever was excellent in the natural way that Uncle Charlie at first seems, hiding out with the family. But as the movie progresses & he too begins to see his niece discover the dark past he really shines.Watch the scene with the car in the garage to see the depth in the piece.
This is not a horror film, but more shocking because the killer of the piece is for once someone's brother & uncle, not some deranged loner as in Thomas Harris. Yet the town & its inhabitants would not seem out of place in 'It's a Wonderful Life' with its apple pie concern for itself.
Hitchcock was duly proud of this work as it was looking into the Hardy family and cleverly twisting the values presented.
It seems difficult to imagine movies like Blue Velvet, or Badlands without this homage to small town America passed.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 13 November 2016
Along with Strangers On A Train which I find it hard to separate this from, in my opinion this is Hitchcock's greatest work. The master's own personal favourite, there's absolutely nothing wasted in this Marvellous tale of a man on the run from the law. Unusually for Hitchcock that man is usually innocent, here however the film leaves you in no doubt that Joseph Cotton's superb portrayal of the seemingly charming Uncle Charlie is very much guilty right from the outset. Charlie is one of two men suspected of being The Merry Widow strangler, and to try to throw off his pursuers telegrams his sister to say he is coming to stay with her in their idyllic small town of Santa Rosa. Sister Emma, played by Patricia Collinge as wide eyed and Innocent is thrilled her younger brother is coming to stay, but not as much as daughter Charlotte, nicknamed 'Charlie' after her Uncle. Welcomed into the family Uncle Charlie hands out presents, with 'Charlie' noting an engraving seemingly making no sense on the expensive ring he gives her. Uncle Charlie states he has been duped but 'Charlie' will hear none of it.

Soon Emma reveals that the family have been chosen as 'A typical American family' with a reporter and photographer coming to the house. Uncle Charlie, seemingly uncharacteristically explodes, saying they are fools to allow strangers into the house and he will have no part of it. His suspicions are correct as the men turn out to be the agents who have been following him.

One of the agents, MacDonald Carey playing Jack feigns a ruse to take 'Charlie' to dinner, and there reveals the terrible truth that Uncle Charlie may be the man they are hunting. At first denying this new knowledge, 'Charlie' then sets out to find out for herself - and comes across more than she bargained for.

The juxtaposition of idyllic small town life with a dangerous criminal displaying a believable front that is eventually seen through by his niece is the masterstroke of this film. 'Charlie' is caught in two minds - facing her Uncle with her new gained knowledge versus her realisation that revealing the truth to her dotting mother would destroy her. As the film progresses Uncle Charlie's casual, chilling feelings about rich widows are laid bare, and his willingness to go to any lengths to protect himself made apparent. The rose coloured glasses are truly off as 'Charlie' tries hard to make her Uncle leave, with family loyalty and the potential effect on her mother causing a welter of mixed feelings. The film has one of the most satisfying endings of any Hitchcock, but it's a chilling ride along the way. A stonewall classic I could watch over and over and never tire of - masterful storytelling.
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