A teenage girl discovers that her beloved uncle may be a serial killer, in Hitchcock’s deliciously dark vision of small-town America.
“Hitchcock’s first indisputable masterpiece” (Dave Kehr), Shadow of a Doubt was reputedly the director’s personal favourite of his own films (even though he denied this to Truffaut). On the run from the law, Charles Oakley (Joseph Cotten), a.k.a. the “Merry Widow Killer,” arrives from the east coast in a satanic cloud of black locomotive smoke to visit his relatives in Santa Rosa, California. There, he is reunited with his young niece Charlotte (Teresa Wright), who is so similar to (and worshipful of) her uncle that she is nicknamed “Charlie” after him. As Uncle Charlie’s sinister proclivities begin to emerge, the young Charlie (like the wife in Suspicion before her) grows increasingly wary, and everything about her existence turns tenuous and potentially menacing — including the seemingly cozy little burg she grew up in. Almost telepathic in their mutual sympathy, the two Charlies are among the most unsettling of Hitchcock’s many doppelgängers, while Cotten’s misogynist dinner-table description of the women he has courted (and murdered) ranks as one of the director’s most disturbing dialogue scenes. “One of Hitchcock’s finest films of the forties” (Geoff Andrew, Time Out).
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