Friday, April 29, 2011

Shadow of a Doubt review

Hey Friends. I'm excited to announce two articles in the pipeline for publication at the great website as well as an upcoming interview with Chris Gethart.
Be sure to cick on my artice 20 Greatest Actor/Director Pairings of All Time. I think it's one of my better ones

Here's a review of a Hitchcock film "Shadow of a Doubt" and how it's a product of its era:
So many Hitchcock films are great in their own right, that a lot of the films beyond “Birds,” “Psycho,” “North by Northwest,” “Rear Window,” “Rebecca” (only because it won Best Picture) and “Vertigo” easily get lost in the shuffle.

Shadow of a Doubt is another uniquely great film of Hitchcock that is definitely worth watching. It made a strong impression on me as a child and I only recently rediscovered it. The film features Joseph Cotton (primarily known for appearing alongside Orson Welles in “Third Man” and “Citizen Kane”) and Teresa Wright.

Cotton plays a serial killer by the name of Charlie with a need to lay low, so he crashes with his sister and her family for a while. His sister’s oldest child (Wright) is also named Charlie and feels a special connection to her uncle because she’s named after him and she’s also just plain bored with her parents. Like those Disney heroines who sing about how they can’t fully blossom into adulthoods under the boring old status quo, she philosophically muses about how her parents just don’t get life in a somewhat meandering monologue that’s obviously designed solely to justify her later attachment to Charlie. He would be the Prince Charming if we go with the Disney analogy and if that sounds kind of creepy because he’s they’re related, it sort of is. Relative to the usual levels of Freudian undertones you find in Hitchkock, the pairing can safely be read as just an innocent relationship between a girl and her favorite uncle.

In fact, I’d call this Hitchkock’s most innocent film in some ways. The film was released in 1943. This was right around the time that American cinema was being heavily encouraged to produce homespun American films (i.e. Mrs. Miniver, Going My Way, Meet me in St. Louis) to encourage the nation why America was so special and worth fighting for. I really see similarities here. I think it was Judy Garland’s daughter Lorna Luft who said on one of the AFI specials that “Meet me in St Louis” is such a great film because you just want to live there. I felt the exact same way about this film. The Newton household (and the town of Santa Rosa, for that matter) is a very charming and attractive place even though there’s a serial killer living in it. It helps put you at ease that he’s not really actively killing people while staying there. The signs of malice in Charlie don’t really manifest themselves into anything dangerously until well over halfway through the film which gives Hitchcock plenty of time to spend in a dreamy Vincente-Minelli-like world where we witness young Charlie meet her young friends in the park or the family engaging in the kind of dinners together that might have even been rare back then.

It’s a great film because this makes it all the more jarring when Cotton’s Uncle Charlie finally unleashes some of his murderous proclivities at the sweet, innocent niece. The drama creeps up on you but it’s a doozy.

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