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Monday, 3 April 2017

The 9th Hall Of Fame Inductee Representing Thriller Film - Shadow Of A Doubt (1943) - Alfred Hitchcock


When I was younger, my favorite Pink Floyd album was The Wall, Roger Waters’ rebelliously spirited and operatic passion project. As I have got older, I lean more towards the more moody, meditative and melancholy Wish You Were Here. That same shift in opinion can be applied to Alfred Hitchcock. As anyone interested in self-educating themselves in cinema can attest, Hitchcock’s most notable film as regards it’s cultural legacy is 1960’s Psycho. Now, while I still adore that film and recognize that he made several masterpieces, it is his 1943 picture, Shadow Of A Doubt, that has since claimed the top spot as my favorite Hitchcock. I think part of the appeal that comes with Shadow Of A Doubt is that although it retains Hitchcock’s trademark dash of the macabre, there is something awful familiar about the characters and the world that they inhabit. Coming from a story conceived by Gordon McDonell (Uncle Charlie), the screenwriting team of Alma Reville, Sally Benson and Thorton Wilder ground the film in a small-town American setting. Furthermore, the main characters are a far cry from the stereotypical damsels-in-distress and maniacal villains that even in 1943 were old hat in this genre. ‘Young’ Charlie, played with great intelligence by Teresa Wright, is a precocious teenager, a trope in itself, but one who displays real smarts amidst her warm, idealistic qualities, and has a legitimate developmental arc over the course of the film. Joseph Cotten, in a magnificent performance that takes his everyman charm into sinister territory, creates in ‘Uncle’ Charlie, who may or may not be the Merry Widow Murderer, someone that is calm, measured, controlled and yet possessing a dark edge that is more unnerving than just about any other actor descending into wailing histrionics. Featuring a superb score from Dimitri Tiomkin, tight editing by Milton Carruth and majestically imaginative cinematography from Joseph A. Valentine, this is Hitchcock, with his painstaking preparations and immaculate attention to detail on display, at the peak of his craft. Many others seem to think so too. Unanimously praised upon release, David Mamet named it Hitchcock’s finest film, and the Master Of Suspense himself on several occasions asserted and reiterated that it was his personal favourite of his own works. A deft infiltration of very real, frightening events upon peaceful American suburbia and those who inhabit it.

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