Shadow of a Doubt is the story of a young girl named Charlie, who adores her Uncle Charlie, after whom she is named. He comes to visit the family, to the delight of everyone, but is he actually a homicidal maniac?!? Dun dun dunnnnnnn!
After a brilliant start, I’ve reached a bit of a lull in this noir version of ‘Another Day, Another Movie.’ Well, whenever something like that happens, the wisest course of action is to apply some Hitchcock to the problem. That’s what I did by watching Shadow of a Doubt.
It’s not the best movie of the month, but it is certainly a return back to engaging stories I actually enjoy watching. There are some silly leaps of logic, a pretty unclimactic climax, and some plot holes which can’t be looked at too closely, else they’ll crumble the whole thing… oh yeah, and a really creepy dynamic between uncle and niece early in the film.
Still, with this film we get Hitchcock’s technical wonders (my favorite shot is one where a character learns something terrible, and what begins as a close-up keeps panning out until the character is seen alone in a big, dark, empty room, with the shot pulled all the way out and up to show how isolated and far away the character is in that moment), along with some genuine emotion for once. We actually get some characters who make at least a little sense. Also, leave it to Hitchcock to be the guy who subverts all of the noir pitfalls regarding women when he makes a noir. The main character is a woman, and instead of being a femme fatale (which I’ve actually learned this month is exaggerated as a primary part of noir, there have actually only been a few in the 13 movies so far), she’s the one unraveling the story’s mystery. Also, the film features a little girl who spends all of her time reading, because she has taken a ‘sacred oath’ to read two books a week, the little girl looks down on her father for the silly crime novels and stories he reads. The main character is strong, smart, and independent, the leader of her family. While she does date a guy during the film, there is never any moment where we feel he is necessary to her, or completes or… **spoiler** he doesn’t even swoops in to save her in her moment of need. **spoiler ended**
Not the typical female characters you find in early 1940’s film.
I assume some don’t consider this one of Hitchcock’s lesser works. I do, but I think it just goes to show that even his lesser works are worth my time. Up with Alfred!!