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Shadow of a Doubt [DVD]
Alfred Hitchcock co...
show morensidered this 1943 thriller to be his personal favourite 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 1920s serial killer known as "The Merry Widow Murderer," Shadow of a Doubt 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 neighbour (Hume Cronyn). Charlie was named after her favourite 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 fa ade of small-town tranquillity to reveal evil where it's least expected. And, of course, it's all done in pure Hitchcockian style. --Jeff Shannonshow less