SHADOW OF A DOUBT

(1943)
With Joseph Cotten, Teresa Wright, Henry Travers, Hume Cronyn, Patricia Collinge
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
Black and White
Reviewed by JL

     Though he'd already made a handful of classics by 1943, SHADOW OF A DOUBT was the best film Alfred Hitchcock had directed to date. It was also one of his darkest, in that it revealed the evil and despair that can lurk beneath the illusions of security in small-town America. Joseph Cotten plays the "Merry Widow Murderer," known to his family as kindly, fun-loving Uncle Charlie. All seems well with Charlie at first until he starts making his favorite niece (Teresa Wright) and other family members uncomfortable with his views on human nature: "You live in a dream. You're a sleepwalker, blind. How do you know what the world is like? Do you know the world is a foul sty? Do you know, if you rip off the fronts of houses, you'd find swine? The world's a hell. What does it matter what happens in it?" One of Hitchcock's most chilling and disturbing films, SHADOW OF A DOUBT was coauthored by playwright Thornton Wilder, who just a few years earlier had presented an opposite and idyllic view of American life in OUR TOWN.  - JL

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