Thursday, November 02, 2006

Shadow Of A Doubt (1943)

Hitchcock! Hitchcock! Hitchcock!

And his name isn't even DOUBT!

Film-Noir Thriller

Starring: Teresa Wright (Mrs. Miniver; The Pride of the Yankees), Joseph Cotten (The Magnificent Ambersons; The Third Man)

Directed By: Alfred Hitchcock (Sabotage; The Lady Vanishes)

Overview: When a welcome visit for a friendly uncle becomes somewhat of a strange mystery, his niece who shares his name finds herself full of Suspicion.

Acting: I would normally say "typical Hitchcockian direction", but all too often I've been disappointed. For all you who've read this string of my month-long marathon of Hitch, I'll be clearer: Amazing direction of quality talent makes this thriller worthy of remembering, and worthy of Hitchcock's name. The young bookworm of a girl was my personal favorite. She's so cute, in that librarian way.
Rating: 8

Cinematography: Sadly, the shot above was merely a publicity photo and not actually in the film, but Hitch uses a great many bottom-lighting effects to add a sinister feel to this everyday middle-America tale. Rather than fill the screen with high art and German expressionism, everything is subdued just enough to give us a feeling, rather than a knowledge, and it's very effective here.
Rating: 8

Script: My favorite part of the story is the dialogue. The words create vivid characters, especially amusing asides, like Dad and his friend having constant discussions about how they would kill each other and get away with it. The way that innocent banter is juxtaposed with the far too real doubts going through niece Charlie's mind adds a nice depth to her, that makes us realize that while everyone else is living well and care-free, she is haunted by something she cannot easily confirm.
Rating: 9

Plot: We open with a very suspicious introduction to Uncle Charlie, and the essence of the film is the mystery of his past. Whom did he flee from and why is he hiding? Is he misunderstood or guilty? As we near the end, the climax takes a nice long time to build up to a very impressive ending. What bothers me most about this story is its stunning resemblance to the film Hitch made just two years before, Suspicion.
Rating: 8

Mood: I will say that more than most of Hitchcock's films we have themes brilliantly conveyed and a slow and steady escalation that build up to a perfect climax. Rebecca did a similar thing, dropping hints and clues that, rather than answering questions, simply invite more. Having such a film set in a regular everyday, everyman setting makes it a far closer experience, and involving so many other people in the tale adds an element of normalcy to what could have been an otherwise long and drawn out story. The sub-plots are a nice touch.
Rating: 8

Father, I must go get more spotlights, I feel too softboxed!

Overall Rating: 82% (No, Actually, I Was Pretty Certain)

Aftertaste: At this point I realize that Hitchcock's problem is not that he was ahead of his time, it's that he should have been. Yes, he was too deep in the mire of 40s melodrama and it took another 10 years for him to be able to make films that were free of so many necessary establishing clichés, like the love triangle, love at first sight, or high society period pieces.