Shadow of a Doubt (1943)

shadow of a doubt poster 1943 movie
10 Overall Score
Story: 10/10
Acting: 10/10
Visuals: 10/10

Another perfect Hitchcock


Movie Info

Movie Name:  Shadow of a Doubt

Studio:  Universal Pictures

Genre(s):  Mystery/Suspense/Drama

Release Date(s):  January 12, 1943 (Premiere)/January 15, 1943 (US)

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated

shadow of a doubt uncle charlie teresa wright joseph cotten

Uncle Charlie, you’re the best!

Charlotte “Charlie” Newton (Teresa Wright) has a favorite uncle…her namesake Charlie Oakley (Joseph Cotten).  When Uncle Charlie reveals he’s coming to town it seems like the perfect opportunity to spend time with him.  Unfortunately, Charlie has a secret.  Detective Jack Graham (Macdonald Carey) and Detective Fred Saunders (Wallace Ford) show up and reveal that Charlie is one of two suspects who could be the Merry Widow Murderer.  Charlie now is caught in the middle of the investigation and questions if the uncle she loves could be a murderer.  If Uncle Charlie is the Merry Widow Murderer, how far will he go to protect his secret?

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock, Shadow of a Doubt is a mystery suspense film.  The movie is from a Thorton Wilder script and was sometimes pointed to by Hitchcock as his favorite film.  The movie was nominated for Best Story (losing to The Human Comedy).  Following Hitchcock’s Saboteur in 1942, the movie has been selected by the Library of Congress for the National Film Registry in 1991.

shadow of a doubt uncle charlie joseph cotten

Lets see how many ways I can casually kill you!

Hitchcock has a deep catalogue of titles and there are the movies that are typically mentioned, but Shadow of a Doubt does not always enter the conversation…it needs to be though.

The story of Shadow of a Doubt is tight and dark.  It also can flip between dark, dark crime and tongue-and-cheek comedy between Joseph Newton (Henry Travers) and Herbie Hawkins (Hume Cronym) who discuss ways to kill without being caught…something perfectly Hitchcockian.  The movie goes lots of directions and it isn’t one that you can really pin down how it is going to end.

The dynamic between Teresa Wright and Joseph Cotten is fantastic.  Teresa Wright is great as first someone who can’t believe that the man she’s grown up admiring could be a killer (which would destroy her mother).  Like many Hitchcock women, she’s bright, clever, and likable.  Once the switch is flipped and Charlie becomes the enemy, she becomes a great foil for the character as the only one who knows the truth of about him…and even better Uncle Charlie knows it.

shadow of a doubt ending train uncle charlie joseph cotten teresa wright

I take it back, Uncle Charlie…you suck!

Cotten on the other hand does a great job being charming.  His character has to be since he can seduce widows and trick everyone.  The guy also has to come off as a stone-cold killer who can murder her own flesh and blood…and namesake.  Cotton succeeds in both.  The worst part is that his character probably had some outs where he could have avoided killing, but instead he tries some pretty lethal attempts on Charlie.

Shadow of a Doubt is a great Hitchcock film and another perfect example of what made Hitchcock “Hitchcock”.  The murder in a small town feel of the film makes it dark and American gothic.  The movie is a great example of mystery, suspense, and a thriller.  Shadow of a Doubt was remade in 1958 as Step Down to Terror, and Cotton reprised his role on radio a few times.  Hitchcock followed Shadow of a Doubt with Lifeboat in 1944.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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