#360: Shadow of a Doubt

8 August 2011

Joseph Cotten seemed familiar to me the first time the camera had closed up on his face as he laid on his bed while his maid reported to him that two men were looking for him. As my sister had raised up the other film I had promised and had kept erasing from this list since I haven’t fully finished it, we remember now that he too stared in Carol Reed’s The Third Man.

I’ve already seen this before in Cinemax but never had gotten the title. I felt then that this film could be a Hitchcock film. The feel and the music seemed similar. It was just the actors that made me think twice. Hitchcock is best known to use two of his favorite actors in Hollywood: Cary Grant and Grace Kelly. Or if the latter was not available (like when she got married and became Princess to Monaco, she neglected to play the part of Marnie in Marnie as a comeback to movies after her marriage. The role ended up to Tippi Hendren instead. The same blonde he used in The Birds) he selected from wide range of Blondes that were available. In this film, he cast a brunette Teresa Wright.

A man who turns out to be a charming and calculating killer phones up his relatives in the sleepy suburb of Santa Rosa to tell them that he’ll be staying with them for a while. The man’s name is Charlie. As he arrives, he befriends and charms (in a freaky, incest-ish way) his niece and namesake Young Charlie. He gives his sister, his brother-in-law, his other niece and nephew gifts. As he gives Young Charlie a ring with an engraved name she couldn’t make up of, she begins to have suspicions about her uncle to be the Merry Widow thief.

When Uncle Charlie suspects too that Young Charlie might have doubts about his purpose and his identity, he plots her death to protect his secret. The film ends as one of them dies and everything ends like nothing at all has ever happened.

This film is said to be Hitchcock’s most favorite film. Screenplay co-written by the great Thornton Wilder, along with Sally Benson and Alma Reville, this film also co-stars Henry Travers (the guy who played the angel Gabriel in Kafka’s It’s a Wonderful Life), Patricia Colinge, Wallace Ford and Hume Cronyn. Although this wouldn’t be my favorite Hitchcock film, I loved it’s cinematography and the way each scenes were built to build up enough tension for suspense especially between the main characters.