A man in London tries to help a counterespionage agent. But when the agent is killed and the man stands accused, he must go on the run to both save himself and also stop a spy ring which is trying to steal top secret information.
Charlotte 'Charlie' Newton is bored with her quiet life at home with her parents and her younger sister. She wishes something exciting would happen and knows exactly what they need: a visit from her sophisticated and much traveled uncle Charlie Oakley, her mother's younger brother. Imagine her delight when, out of the blue, they receive a telegram from uncle Charlie announcing that he is coming to visit them for awhile. Charlie Oakley creates quite a stir and charms the ladies club as well as the bank president where his brother-in-law works. Young Charlie begins to notice some odd behavior on his part, such as cutting out a story in the local paper about a man who marries and then murders rich widows. When two strangers appear asking questions about him, she begins to imagine the worst about her dearly beloved uncle Charlie. Written by
The producers assigned scouts to find an appropriate house to serve as a setting for the film in Santa Rosa, where the film was to be shot on location. Alfred Hitchcock had provided specific instructions that the house was to be nice, but somewhat worn-down to emphasize the Newton family's middle class background. The scouts selected the house which appears in the film, and Hitchcock was delighted by the photographs of their selection. The house was well-built with both a charming interior and exterior; however, it was an older house that was slightly out of fashion at the time, needed a few cosmetic repairs, had a bit of an overgrown lawn and garage area, and the exterior painting was faded and chipped. Hitchcock believed that the expensive and sturdy, but weathered and worn, look to the house would give the suggestion that the Newton family could be anyone, just the average American family in any average American town. Hitchcock gave the scouts the authority to rent the house from its owners as a temporary filming location, much to the owners' pride and delight. He was horrified, however, when he appeared at the house to begin filming. The owners, excited by the prospect of a major film being shot at their house, had freshly painted the entire house, manicured the lawn, and made a few repairs to the exterior. Hitchcock had to have his effects team artificially age the wear to the house and shoot around the owners' most-effective recent renovations. See more »
When Mrs. Newton is going to the telephone to inquire about the telegram, her left arm reaches for the wall and in the next shot reaches again. See more »
Your picking us as an average family kind of gave me a funny feeling.
What kind of a funny feeling?
Oh, I don't know. I guess I don't like to be an average girl in an average family.
Average families are the best. Look at me. I'm from an average family.
As average as ours?
Sure. Besides, I don't think you're average.
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I own the Hitchcock collection (14 films in toto), and while this isn't my favourite of the bunch ('Psycho' is one of my favourite movies of all time, and 'Birds' never gets old), I like to watch it every now and again to remind myself what it means to make a "suspense film", and why Hitchcock was and always will be the master of this craft.
To give away even the slightest story detail would ruin it for new viewers, because it is essential that everyone begin with the wrong impressions of the major characters. This allows Hitch to pull off his famous 'twists' throughout the course of the movie, hitting you every now and then with something you simply weren't expecting.
One of my favourite elements in the movie is the ongoing dialogue between Henry Travers and Hume Cronyn, avid mystery readers who are constantly discussing the best ways to murder each other. Apart from being a bit of comic relief in an otherwise very dark film, it also demonstrates how lightly people think of murder and murderers...until they encounter them face-to-face.
My advice then, if you want to see this movie, is not to learn anything about it beforehand. Going in with no knowledge will increase the movie's initial impact, and will help you to appreciate why Hitchcock was the 'Master of Suspense'. This is a taut thriller with no gratuitous violence, foul language, or mature situations.
(Hitch considered it 'a family film'.)
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