Shadow of a Doubt (Universal 1943, Joseph Cotton, Teresa Wright)

Shadow of a Doubt

In enthralling story Shadow of a Doubt (Director Hitchcock’s personal favorite of his own movies), an average small town receives a visit from the Merry Widow murderer.

Joseph Cotten gives an intense, quiet performance as Teresa Wright’s Uncle Charlie, whose visit she and her family eagerly anticipate. Fresh from his latest killing, Cotten charms his sister’s family, especially Wright, who feels she and her worldly uncle have a special bond.

But as his dark torment starts to surface, Wright is endangered when Cotten realizes she sees through him. A terrific script from Thorton Wilder perfectly establishes the small-town atmosphere (a particularly winning touch is the running dialogue between Henry Travers and Hume Cronyn, two mystery buffs who enliven their humdrum lives with a debate on techniques for the perfect murder), and the shadow cast by the presence of pure evil.

Like Hitch’s later Psycho (1960), the story is based on a real-life killer, in this case, the “Merry Widow Murderer” of the 1920s, Earle Leonard Nelson.

Academy Award Nomination for Best Original Story.

Cast: Joseph Cotten, Teresa Wright, Hume Cronyn, Wallace Ford, Henry Travers,

Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Producer: Jack H. Skirball
Director of Photography: Joseph A. Valentine
Editor: Milton Carruth
Composer: Dimitri Tiomkin
Screenwriter: Thornton Wilder
Art Director: John B. Goodman

USA / Universal / 108 minutes / 1943 black and white

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