Box art for Shadow of a Doubt

Shadow of a Doubt


A charming killer hides out in his relatives' small hometown, where he befriends his favorite niece and namesakewho begins to suspect that he may be the famed Merry Widow murderer.

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movie reviews from Rotten Tomatoes®

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    reviews counted: 12
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Top Critic Reviews

Fresh: You've got to hand it to Alfred Hitchcock: when he sows the fearful seeds of mistrust in one of his motion pictures he can raise more goose pimples to the square inch of a customer's flesh than any other director of thrillers in Hollywood.

- Bosley Crowther, New York Times, Tuesday, May 20, 2003

Fresh: Hitch's personal favorite and certainly one of his best.

- Dan Lybarger, Nitrate Online, Thursday, June 24, 2010

Fresh: Alfred Hitchcock's first indisputable masterpiece.

- Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader, Friday, April 24, 2009

Audience Reviews

3 stars

A young woman is elated when her favourite uncle comes to stay with her family but becomes increasingly suspicious that he is in fact the "merry widow murderer". An early work from Alfred Hitchcock, Shadow Of A Doubt contains many of the themes that would reoccur in his work. It's almost an attack on the idea of the concept of the "blood is thicker than water" family unit and another example of Hitch's enemy within stories as the seemingly innocuous Joseph Cotten is revealed to have a dark secret. There are some great examples of Hitchcock's genius contained within the story, particularly some beautifully framed shots and his use of light and shadow, and he toys with the audience as he places us in Charlie's position as Cotten's facade slips. The highlight for me was his rancorously misogynistic tirade at the dinner table accompanied by an incredibly sinister look straight into camera. Hume Cronyn and Henry Travers also bring some wonderfully black comic relief so all the ingredients are there for another classic. Unfortunately I found the pacing rather off; the first half of the film is actually really rather dull, with nothing happening but family bliss and the bland detectives on the case are almost treated as an afterthought leaving a "hero" figure glaringly absent; Teresa Wright is appealing but too helpless and victim-like to be a strong protagonist. The second half of the film certainly makes up for the dull first, but Hitchcock covered similar ground with the superior Suspicion. Anyone looking for a film to play drinking games to should also check this out; a shot every time someone says "Charlie" would flatten a concrete elephant...

- garyX, Monday, November 1, 2010

3 stars

"You think you know something, don't you? You think you're the clever little girl who knows something. There's so much you don't know. So much." Charlie (Teresa Wright) is thrilled when her adored uncle (Joseph Cotten) comes to visit her family and shake her out of the malaise and monotony that she's been feeling. But when suspicion is cast on the man that she was named after, can she accept that he might be a killer? If he finds out what she suspects, could that put even the life of his beloved niece in jeopardy? I don't really know how to review Shadow of a Doubt. I found myself liking it, even though I can't give any particular reasons why. In fact, I found it to be meandering and a little unfocused, at times. Yet it still left me with a positive impression. It had a different feel from any of the other Hitchcock movies that I've seen. There's little mystery to it, and the thrills and suspense are of a different kind than those that were offered in North by Northwest or Notorious. I'd struggle to compare this to any of his other movies. Yet, the director felt that it was his favorite. I can't deny that I found the relationship between Charlie and her uncle to be interesting, in all its phases. And since so much of the plot hinges on that, then perhaps that explains some of Shadow of a Doubt's likeability. I'd say that if you're a fan of Hitchcock, give this film about family menace in Santa Rosa a try. It's a bit of an odd duck, yet it was entertaining, nonetheless. I put it firmly in the middle of the pack of Hitchcock's movies.

- lewiskendell, Wednesday, July 21, 2010

5 stars

hitchcock's grand-daughter claims that "shadow of a doubt" is hitch's favorite piece of work. as for its authentiy, it's another business, but "shadow of a doubt" is phenomenal considering its double parallel of its smitten moral dualism. the story is about the characters of two "charlies" in an average household. the uncle charlie is a closet sociopath with penchant to strangle rich widows to serve his twisted idealism. young charlie is a naive small-town girl with whimsical ruminations all the time. to escape from investigator, uncle charlie takes refugee in his elder sister's home under the expectation of young charlie's mental telegracy that injects some dreamy hope into young charlie's dried life of boredom. but she would never know her dream degenerates into a horrisome nightmare as she discovers her uncle's deadly secret. the appliance of two charlies with the introduction of them laying on bed in seperate scenes is the resonation of their connected twin personality. uncle charlie is the dark evil side while young charlie stands for the bright gentility. as uncle charlie dies, part of young charlie's perspect of innocence also withers just like she would never be completed ever again, consuming the rest of her life mourning over the uncle she's infatuated with, as hitch once remarks "sometimes you would slaughters the one you love"....her self-guilt is severe becuz her uncle's vice is partially indulged by her connived silence, then she has to run the risk of his murderous elimination for the sake of his own safety. joseph cotten as the merry window strangler is sinisterly dynamic, and he delivers some cynically spiteful lines upon women by demeaning old rich widows as "faded, fat. freezing animals" who squader their diligent husbands' hard-earned fortunes by being wastefully leisure all the time, he detests them but takes belief that their annihilations would improve the world as a better place that is the most harsh misogynisitc comment ever in hitch's movies. or lines like "women are fools! they could be in love with anything!!" his idealism detorted with his pervert killing is the so called "moral ambiguity"... there're some stylish shots of cotten's smoking poises full of contempts and complacency as he gazes outside the window as well as his disregard to the conventional superstition by tossing his hat toward the bed purposedly. there're some engrossing symbolic metaphors, such as the train cotten takes as he arrives the town emits black fume that means devil is approaching here; then the train he takes to depart exuberates white smoke that crytalizes the town as the devil's going away. ironically the ending shows the whole town santa rosa is all lamenting over uncle charlie by dubbing him "son of santa rosa" that is literarily consecrating a murderer with righteous holliness. the tasteful part is that hitchcock never demonstrates one scene of the actual widow-strangling crime, and it's simply hinted with the killer's fierce strength to string over a napkin with a ferocious gaze. joseph cotten shall be one of the best hitchcockian villains among claude rains, robert walker and ray millard, recognition approved by hitch himself.

- groaningbitch, Friday, June 25, 2010