Alfred Hitchcock considered this 1943 thriller to be his personal favorite among his own films, and although it's not as popular as some of Hitchcock's later work, it's certainly worthy of the master's admiration. Scripted by playwright Thornton Wilder and inspired by the actual case of a 1920's serial killer known as "The Merry Widow Murderer," the movie sets a tone of menace and fear by introducing a psychotic killer into the small-town comforts of Santa Rosa, California. That's where young Charlie (Teresa Wright) lives with her parents and two younger siblings, and where murder is little more than a topic of morbid conversation for their mystery-buff neighbor (Hume Cronyn). Charlie was named after her favorite uncle, who has just arrived for an extended visit, and at first Uncle Charlie (Joseph Cotten) gets along famously with his admiring niece. But the film's chilling prologue has already revealed Uncle Charlie's true identity as the notorious Merry Widow Murderer, and the suspense grows almost unbearable when young Charlie's trust gives way to gradual dread and suspicion. Through narrow escapes and a climactic scene aboard a speeding train, this witty thriller strips away the façade of small-town tranquility to reveal evil where it's least expected. And, of course, it's all done in pure Hitchcockian style. --Jeff Shannon
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Top Customer Reviews
Hitchock once called this variant of the wolf-among-the-lambs parable his best American film; though he later recanted, it's hard not to think his original assessment was right. Although this film has all the cleverness and adroitness we associate with his other great films (in his repeated use of twinning motifs, and in such virtuoso sequences as young Charlie's rush to the library to discover the truth about her uncle--and the famous crane shot when she finds it), it's rare in that it has a truly superb script (credited to Thornton Wilder) that allows Hitchock's excellent cast to play real and multilayered human beings.Read more ›
Teresa Wright one year earlier was in "Mrs. Minver"
This film is creepy from the beginning as Charlie (Joseph Cotton) goes to his hometown to avoid two mysterious men following him. Who are they and what do they want of him?
Mean while back home things are just down right monotonous. Little Charlie (Teresa Wright) plans to send a telegram to Uncle Charlie to come and brighten up the place. She realizes she possesses telepathy when Uncle Charlie's telegram reaches her first. When Uncle Charlie arrives he brings secrets and the two mysterious men show up as magazine men doing a survey. Little Charlie must find the secrets and why the men are there. Each scene and secret reveals a more sinister environment. It just gets creeper.
The film and the camera angles are exceptional. Even the dialog helps build up the tension. Yet on this VHS copy I can not help but thing that some scenes were cut or something to that affect. One minute Little Charlie is walking happily with her quasi date. The next moment she is being apologized to for being deceived as he reveals his purpose. I wonder how many more scenes were cut or condensed?
Perhaps the reason it is so endearing is that the movie's plot orbits around a 'typical' American family in a 'typical' American town, complete with a mother, father and siblings (unlike, say, 'The Birds' or 'The Man Who Knew Too Much'). Needless to say, Hitchcock once again intends to expose the dark side of human nature, but goes a step further here by showing it could be, well, in YOUR family (and at some level probably is).
I have always been impressed with Hitchcock's cast selection not just of the main actors but the entire crew, and this film is no exception. Joseph Cotton (one of my favorites, I must admit) does his usual spectacular job as Uncle Charlie and Teresa Wright is fine as 'niece' Charlie, but accolades go to Henry Travers and Patricia Collinge as the parents, and to Hume Cronyn as the nosy, slightly ghoulish (and very funny) neighbor. Even little Ann Newton's 'bookwormy' character (Edna May Wonacott) seems to have been carefully selected and she is perfect in her part.
Hitch's direction is flawless and he once again employs his standard 'techniques' (which he so refined over the years) to get our attention, reveal a 'double meaning' or impart symbolism. There are also plentiful doses of humor and light-heartedness, which serve to help the movie flow at one level while contrasting with the ever-building darkness the viewer is being exposed to in the form of Uncle Charlie.
I will not write a synopsis of the plot, there are plenty of those here to read. The DVD quality (both sound and picture) is very good - not "fantastic", but easily worthy of the purchase.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
Le produit m'a été livré dans le délai prévu. La qualité mentionnée était exacte. Read morePublished on Feb. 6 2013 by MFJ
It is sad that Santa Rosa, Ca. doesn't look like this today,but this film almost foretells the waiting, looming changes that we were about to face in our land, both to our... Read morePublished on July 16 2004
While the film itself is absolutely brilliant, 'Shadow of a Doubt' loses a star for being a disappointing DVD. Read morePublished on July 2 2004 by Ron Burgandy
Having just watched Alfred Hitchcock's Shadow of a Doubt (1943) last night for the first time, I was surprised at how good it was, and why I've never seen it before. Read morePublished on May 26 2004 by cookieman108
No question about it: this one of Hitchcock's best, and it ought to be a lot better known.
There's some truth in the contention that much of Hitchcock's work is based on... Read more
'Shadow of a Doubt' is yet another fantasic mystery from Alfred Hitchcock. Although I don't remember the storyline too much, I remember liking it enough to give it a four-star... Read morePublished on April 26 2004 by Dhaval Vyas
Consider two classic Hitchcock motif's - the staircase at night (cf Suspicion, Notorious) and the brattish little girl. Read morePublished on Feb. 7 2004 by Ian Muldoon
Hitchcock loved to subvert what others took for granted. Set in the Northern California town of Santa Rosa, Shadow of a Doubt is most subversive about the very normal, tranquil... Read morePublished on Jan. 12 2004 by Wayne Klein
Alfred Hitchcock's "Shadow of a Doubt" is one of the less satisfying productions from the famed director. Read morePublished on Dec 10 2003 by Steven Y.
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