‘Shadow of a Doubt’

An early American feature from the master of suspense, Alfred HItchcock (Rebecca, Rear Window), Shadow of a Doubt is a quietly understated thrill of a narrative as a suspected serial killer moves into respectable middle-class suburbia.

Leaving New York in a hurry, Charlie Oakley (Joseph Cotten – The Third Man, Citizen Kane) heads for the Californian home of his older sister, Emma (Patricia Collinge – The Little Foxes, The Nun’s Story) and her family. Adored and worshipped by his niece, Charlie (Teresa Wright – Mrs Miniver, The Best Years of Our Lives), a desparate Charlie is quick to realise his liberty is at risk – and detectives have drawn in his niece in an attempt to trap him.

The plot may be implausible but the dialogue is cracking (written by Pulitzer prize winning Thornton Wilder) – Emma’s explantion to the detectives on how to bake a cake is priceless. On the surface, Shadow of a Doubt has limited reach but underlying is the exploration of loneliness, despair, greed, complacency and death. A small gem of a feature.

Nominated for best original story Oscar in 1944.

Rating: 78%

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