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Alfred Hitchcock: The Shape of Suspense

Friday, February 22, 2013
9:00 p.m. Shadow of a Doubt
Alfred Hitchcock (U.S., 1943)

Student Pick
Watch the trailer

Hitchcock had reason to consider Shadow of a Doubt his personal favorite among his films. In structure the film is perfection; in theme it is radically disturbing. Joseph Cotten is the urbane Uncle Charlie, hiding out in the small-town home of his sister Emma. Is he the Merry Widow Killer hunted by the police, or is he innocent as he claims? Shot in Santa Rosa and cowritten by Thornton Wilder and Sally Benson, the film blends satire and mystery in examining the effects of Uncle Charlie’s visit on a nastily nice community (full of wealthy widows), but particularly on his adoring niece, Charlie (Teresa Wright). She is his namesake, he is her doppelganger, and they are inseparably linked in the shadows of Joseph Valentine’s cinematography. The uncle’s outré cynicism (“Do you know that if you ripped the fronts off houses you’d find swine?”) threatens the girl with her own terrible knowledge.

—Judy Bloch

• Written by Thornton Wilder, Sally Benson, Alma Reville, from a story by Gordon McDonell. Photographed by Joseph Valentine. With Joseph Cotten, Teresa Wright, Macdonald Carey, Henry Travers. (108 mins, B&W, 35mm, From Universal)