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Shadow of Doubt

4.7 out of 5 stars 49 customer reviews

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4 used from CDN$ 15.00
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Product Details

  • Actors: Teresa Wright, Joseph Cotten, Macdonald Carey, Henry Travers, Patricia Collinge
  • Directors: Alfred Hitchcock
  • Writers: Alma Reville, Gordon McDonell, Sally Benson, Thornton Wilder
  • Producers: Jack H. Skirball
  • Format: NTSC
  • Number of tapes: 1
  • MPAA Rating: UNRATED
  • Studio: Mca (Universal)
  • VHS Release Date: Oct. 29 2002
  • Run Time: 108 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars 49 customer reviews
  • ASIN: 0783236352
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #3,530 in Video (See Top 100 in Video)
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Product Description


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

Special Features

  • Beyond Doubt: The Making of Hitchcock's Favorite Film
  • Production Drawings by Art Director Robert Boyle
  • Production Photographs
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Production Notes
  • --This text refers to the DVD edition.

    Customer Reviews

    4.7 out of 5 stars
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    Top Customer Reviews

    Format: DVD
    The middle-class Newtons of Santa Rosa, California in Hitchcock's film might seem to be very much akin to the idealized smalltown families in M-G-M films during the Thirties and Forties, if not for the fact that they each seem to have initially retreated into their own fantasy, worlds and seem so out of touch with one another. The father lives to discuss the crime magazines he collects with his next-door neighbor. Anne, the fearfully precocious eight year-old daughter, is trying to read all the novels in the town library. Emma, the sentimental mother, often drops into reveries of her idealized childhood with her adored baby brother Charlie. Charlie's namesake niece (Teresa Wright) is convinced her family needs to be shaken out of their doldrums, and is grateful when her beloved uncle (Joseph Cotton) surprises the family with a welcome surprise visit. But Uncle Charlie is not quite what he seems: the police want to question him about a matter back East, and then there are the expensive gifts he showers his relatives with which don't seem to belong to him...
    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.
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    Format: VHS Tape
    Being directed by Hitchcock, people tend to overlook that the story was writing credits Thornton Niven Wilder who wrote "Our Town" three years earlier.
    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?
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    By A Customer on Sept. 9 2002
    Format: VHS Tape
    This is one of my favorite 'Hitch' films, though it certainly never received the name recognition of 'North by Northwest', 'The Birds', or 'Psycho'.
    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.
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    Format: VHS Tape
    1943's SHADOW OF A DOUBT is an allegorical study of Americana seen through the naivete of a typical family in a quiet and slumberous community. When evil comes to town in the embodiment of the beloved Uncle Charlie (Joseph Cotton) it is the perceptive niece Young Charlie (Teresa Wright) that slowly uncovers his true identity as the Merry Widow murderer. Henry Travers and Hume Cronyn spend their evenings concocting ways to commit the perfect murder unknowingly under the watchful eyes of the genuine article. Evil takes many shapes and hides behind many facades in broad daylight. Would the wholesome average American community recognize such evil and be willing to deal with it? These are questions that the transplanted Hitchcock would ask about his new home. Another transplant, Dimitri Tiomkin, composed a brilliant score utilizing American idioms laced with the darkness of the tainted soul. This remains one of Hitchcock's best films since it works, as a thriller yet remains a true reflection of a good-natured but generally complacent lifestyle. What is interesting is that Hitchcock shows his usual disdain for police by having the niece foil the Merry Widow murderer and not agent Jack Graham (Macdonald Carey). The vigilant individual is still the screen's most valuable asset.
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