I’ve been trying to brush up on classics lately. In doing so, I found a pretty awesome Hitchcock DVD box on Amazon and ordered it immediately. So now, I’ve been watching Hitchcock movies – in chronological order. I have to say: they’re not all good, but if they’re good, they’re great!
Shadow of a Doubt follows the adventures of Charlie and Charlie – one of them being the uncle-from-the-city, the other being the small-town-niece. The uncle, a nervous wreck, decides to take a trip to his niece and her family into the country. Why exactly he wants to do so, is a mystery that slowly gets unraveled into a thick plot of epic proportions.
The movie is from 1942, but bears almost no resemblence to another Hitchcock movie made during the second World War: Saboteur. Sure, there is a good mystery plot in there, but the scope of Shadow of a Doubt is so much smaller – which makes it into a much better, much more concentrated film. Everyone can write a conspiracy plot – it’s become a genre by itself in the USA – but a small family drama… you need to get the characters just right for that, and that’s exactly where Shadow of a Doubt succeeds: Wonderful characters going through great evolutions.
The movie looks (and sounds – great use of walzes) brilliant – even back then, Hitchcock already made some shots that made my mouth water with esthetic delight. I love how Shadow of a Doubt makes the best of the framework it’s in – something I’ve rarely seen in movies from that age. Put all the pieces together and the whole starts feeling like a typical Hitchcockian nightmare. Slightly surreal but real enough to drag you in.
The bottomline is: if you want to see a Hitchcock movie and you’ve never seen one, this one is pretty good as a starter. I myself started with Vertigo (which I will review sometime), but the symbolism and freakiness got lost on me because I didn’t know enough about the creator’s signature. Shadow of a Doubt is a bit less to look at, but everything is there (and counts in small amounts).
Joseph Newton: We’re not talking about killing people. Herb’s talking about killing me and I’m talking about killing him.