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Shadow of a Doubt is a 1943 film directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Joseph Cotten stars as Charlie, a murderer on the run who comes back to his hometown to hide from the police. Teresa Wright is his niece, also called Charlie, who idolizes him--until the agents hunting "Uncle Charlie" reveal to her who her uncle really is.
Said to be Alfred Hitchcock's favorite of his own films. Unmarked Spoilers Ahoy.
This film features examples of:
- Big Bad Wannabe: Herbie and Joseph are always talking about how to commit an untraceable murder. Luckily, Herbie shows his true good colors in the end.
- The Bluebeard
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: Uncle Charlie turns to face the viewer at the end of his Motive Rant.
- Broken Pedestal: More like shattered into a million pieces.
- Chekhov's Gun: Herbie and Joseph's love of tracing murders.
- Creator Cameo: Hitchcock as usual, this time on the train playing cards. He has the entire suit of spades in his hand.
- Creepy Monotone
- Evil Uncle / Creepy Uncle: Oh boy.
- Faux Affably Evil: Uncle Charlie
- Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Cotten is quite a bit taller than tiny little Teresa Wright. This might make the climax less than believeable to some.
- Leitmotif: The "Merry Widow" waltz.
- Make It Look Like an Accident
- Motive Rant: Uncle Charlie gets a little carried away at a family dinner.
- Oh Crap: Uncle Charlie when Young Charlie reveals to him that she's found an incriminating ring.
- One Steve Limit: Averted to great effect with Uncle Charlie and his niece Young Charlie.
- Police Are Useless: Two cops chasing Uncle Charlie, one of which falls in love with Young Charlie, but they don't arrest him or anything or even stick around, thus leaving Young Charlie to deal with her uncle by herself.
- Psychic Link: A very subtle example. Uncle Charlie has gotten off the train. Young Charlie is there to greet him--but she senses something is wrong about him, although she can't say what.
- Serial Killer
- Single-Issue Psychology: The film implies that a brain injury suffered when he fell off a swing as a child is what caused Uncle Charlie's problem.
- The Sociopath: Uncle Charlie is one of the earliest depicted in Hollywood cinema.
- Those Two Guys: Charlie's father Joseph and his best friend Herbie, who are always chatting about how to commit the perfect murder.
- Villain Opening Scene
- Villain with Good Publicity: Everybody adores Uncle Charlie.
- What Could Have Been: MGM refused to loan William Powell to play Uncle Charlie. Olivia De Havilland wanted to play Young Charlie but couldn't get out of other commitments.
- World of Cardboard Speech: This doozy from Uncle Charlie to his niece.
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. What do you know, really? You're just an ordinary little girl, living in an ordinary little town. You wake up every morning of your life and you know perfectly well that there's nothing in the world to trouble you. You go through your ordinary little day, and at night you sleep your untroubled ordinary little sleep, filled with peaceful stupid dreams. And I brought you nightmares. Or did I? Or was it a silly, inexpert little lie? You live in a dream. You're a sleepwalker, blind. How do you know what the world is like? Do you know the world is a foul sty? Do you know, if you rip off the fronts of houses, you'd find swine? The world's a hell. What does it matter what happens in it? Wake up, Charlie. Use your wits. Learn something.
- Wrongly Accused: A classic Hitchcock trope that in this film is subverted.