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

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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.

production details
USA | Universal | 108 minutes | 1943

Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Script: Alma Reville, Sally Benson, Gordon McDonell, Thornton Wilder,

cast
Joseph Cotten as Uncle Charlie Oakley
Teresa Wright as Charlotte ‘Charlie’ Newton
Irving Bacon as Station Master
Hume Cronyn as Herbie Hawkins
Patricia Collinge as Emma Newton
Henry Travers as Joseph Newton
Clarence Muse as Pullman Porter
Macdonald Carey as Jack Graham
Wallace Ford as Fred Saunders
Edna May Wonacott as Ann Newton
Charles Bates as Roger Newton
Janet Shaw as Waitress Louise Finch
Estelle Jewell as Catherine
Alfred Hitchcock as Man on Train Playing Cards (uncredited)
John McGuire as Teen at Crosswalk (uncredited)
Edwin Stanley as Mr. Green – Bank President (uncredited)
Sarah Edwards as Doctor’s Wife on Train (uncredited)
Virginia Brissac as Mrs. Phillips (uncredited)
Frances Carson as Mrs. Potter (uncredited)
Shep Houghton as Ballroom Dancer (uncredited)
Earle S. Dewey as Mr. Norton – Traffic Cop (uncredited)
Edward Fielding as Doctor on Train (uncredited)
Vaughan Glaser as Dr. Phillips (uncredited)
Ruth Lee as Mrs. MacCurdy (uncredited)
Eily Malyon as Mrs. Cochran – Librarian (uncredited)
Shirley Mills as Shirley (uncredited)
Constance Purdy as Mrs. Martin – Landlady (uncredited)
Isabel Randolph as Margaret Green (uncredited)
Grandon Rhodes as Rev. MacCurdy (uncredited)
Byron Shores as Detective (uncredited)
Minerva Urecal as Mrs. Henderson – Clerk at Telegraph Office (uncredited)