Shadow of a Doubt (1943)

This was quite a trip. I can't say it was my favorite kind of trip, but it was thrilling, suspenseful, heartbreaking, and uncomfortable. Due to time I'll just remark on shots and little things I liked without diving into the story structure.


This and in Rebecca as well Hitchcock used the same sweeping shot for the same emotion: the protagonist hiding from someone downstairs, where we show the people downstairs and then pan over to our character in the foreground. To add— any camera movement that reveals something or someone in the foreground is instantly exciting.


When I watched the opening I wrote a note of "even cleaner storytelling," which is true—we do get a good look at the character of Uncle Charlie (Joseph Cotton), but as far as the scene goes with his landlord (?) picking up the money, I can't tell how that is relevant at all to the greater story. Maybe I'm taking too quick a look at it. Regardless, the shot of the kids playing outside and then Uncle Charlie in bed alone with his cigar does a great job telling us all we need to know about him.


A common Hitchcock storyline: a character hides behind someone else (unaware of their crimes) in order to not get caught. Another tool I've noticed in this and in The Lodger—the whole film we are unsure whether the protagonist is innocent or guilty, and just when push comes to shove, there is news that they caught the real killer, proving the protagonist innocent. The creepy thing about this film (besides the weird relationship between Uncle Charlie and Charlie (Teresa Wright)) is that we still don't know if Uncle Charlie is innocent. It makes you question—just how these detectives (MacDonald Carey and Wallace Ford) were mistaken about Uncle Charlie...maybe the detectives that caught the "real" strangler were also mistaken. Anyways.


There is a great moment where the first shot of a sequence is a close-up...I liked that a lot. Dolly in's from wide shots to close-ups Hitchcock frequently uses and most of the time I love them. There is an upshot of Uncle Charlie one scene which clearly has influence from Citizen Kane, which premiered just two years before this.

There was a cool shot of a man at the farewell party that—once he's handed his drink—he gets up and the camera pulls out to a wide shot.


Finally, I've noticed these male characters, even if they're guilty, have justifications for their acts. They use an argument along the lines of "well you don't know what it's like," and always put themselves in the power position, even though they're backed into a corner.


This is a movie I need to watch a few times to really grasp. Although— as the title implies, it's clear that Hitchcock wanted to invoke confusion, and maybe there isn't supposed to be a clear answer in all of it. Seeing all of these crime movies I'm getting a pretty good feeling by now on how to construct a crime story. Too bad I've never been too into the genre all that much. Nevertheless, there have been very few times where I have been bored from watching.

0 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Another plot that makes your head spin, but after seeing Vertigo it's clear what Hitchcock likes to do (seeing 19 of his movies in a row helps too). Both plot twists serve the same function— the love

Nothing short of a masterpiece. If Citizen Kane never came out, this film would be the standard. Everything from the title sequence to the close up of John (Jimmy Stewart) at the courthouse where his

As Hitchcock said in the Truffaut interview, this was certainly done by a professional. The clarity of storytelling, the lighting, the production design, the characters, the editing—all improved. I'll