Shadow of a Doubt
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A Note Regarding Spoilers

The following FAQ entries may contain spoilers. Only the biggest ones (if any) will be covered with spoiler tags. Spoiler tags have been used sparingly in order to make the page more readable.

For detailed information about the amounts and types of (a) sex and nudity, (b) violence and gore, (c) profanity, (d) alcohol, drugs, and smoking, and (e) frightening and intense scenes in this movie, consult the IMDb Parents Guide for this movie. The Parents Guide for Shadow of a Doubt can be found here.

The Newton family -- father Joseph (Henry Travers), mother Emma (Patricia Collinge), son Roger (Charles Bates), and daughters Charlotte 'Charlie' (Teresa Wright) and Ann (Edna May Wonacott) -- are excited that worldly Uncle Charlie Oakley (Joseph Cotten), mother's charming brother and Charlotte's namesake, is coming to visit. However, Uncle Charlie is followed by two detectives who are convinced that Oakley is 'The Merry Widow Murderer', a man who charms rich widows and then murders them for their money.

Shadow of a Doubt was based on an original script by American playwright and novelist, Thornton Wilder [1897-1975]. It was adapted to the screen by Wilder and co-screenwriters Sally Benson and Alma Reville.

It's the Merry Widow Waltz, a tune from the German operetta Die lustige Witwe (The Merry Widow) by Austrian-Hungarian composer Franz Lehr.

The engraving read "TS from BM". After reading a newspaper article at the library, Charlie learns that the TS refers to Thelma Schenley and the BM refers to Thelma's husband Bruce Matthewson. Charlie also learns that Thelma Schenley Matthewson was the third victim of the Merry Widow Murderer.

Towards the end of the movie, Detective Saunders (Wallace Ford) confirms that the photo taken of Uncle Charlie is identified as the man responsible for the murders.

They didn't have enough evidence. The detectives were following two suspects, one of whom was Uncle Charlie. The other suspect was killed when he walked into a propeller blade. Charlie was the only one in possession of the ring, the link between Uncle Charlie and the murdered widows, and she was more concerned with sparing her mother from ever knowing that her brother was a murderer, so she didn't speak up.

How does the movie end?

After the second attempt on Charlie's life, she decides to stay home from Uncle Charlie's speech and get ready for the party to follow. Before the revelers come home, she searches Uncle Charlie's room and retrieves the ring. When Uncle Charlie sees Charlie wearing the ring, he makes a toast and announces that he is going to be leaving tomorrow. The next day at the train station, everyone from Santa Rosa wishes Uncle Charlie a goodbye and thanks him for the good that he has done for the city. Roger, Ann, and Charlie board with him so that Ann and Roger can see his accommodations. Just before the train starts to leave, Ann and Roger disembark, but Uncle Charlie holds Charlie back. The train starts up and, as it begins to speed, Uncle Charlie tries to throw his niece off the train. However, it is Uncle Charlie who falls off the train, right in the front of a passing locomotive. In the final scene, during Uncle Charlie's funeral, Charlie thanks Detective Jack for being someone to whom she could tell the truth about Uncle Charlie.

It is questionable as to whether or not the director and screenwriters had the story of Dracula in mind when they wrote and filmed Shadow of a Doubt. However, many viewers point out a number of similarities between the two stories, claiming that Shadow of a Doubt is cloaked in vampire symbolism. For example, the two stories share the basic plot of a "monster" coming from the East (Pennsylvania and Transylvania) to a populated new world (Santa Rosa, California and London, England). In his ride to the West, Uncle Charlie remains hidden, just as Dracula hid in his coffin in the ship's hold. The opening scenes show Charlie lying on his bed, arms folded across his chest, suggestive of a vampire lying in his coffin. As the landlady lowers the blinds and the light disappears, Charlie finally rises. Later in the movie, we learn that Uncle Charlie dislikes being photographed, as does any vampire, although there is one photograph of him made prior to an accident that he suffered as a child on his bicycle after which his personality seemed to change. Charlie's telepathic link with his niece Charlie is similar to the mental link that Dracula had with Mina. Uncle Charlie says to his niece that "the same blood runs through our veins", which is similar to Dracula's charge to van Helsing that his blood now flows through Mina's veins. Dracula is even mentioned in the movie when Detective Jack Graham (Macdonald Carey) tells Ann the story of Dracula. Whether or not these similarities are intentional is questionable, but it does put a different twist on the movie when watched with them in mind.

Yes. About 15 minutes into the film, Hitchcock can be seen on the train to Santa Rosa. He is playing cards with another man and a woman. He has been dealt a hand of thirteen spades, a bizarre coincidence.

British film-maker Sir Alfred Hitchcock [1899-1980] began making movies in 1921 and ended with Family Plot in 1976. In between, he made dozens and dozens of films, some of which (the earlier ones) have been lost. Some of his more well-known and best-loved movies include The Lady Vanishes (1938), Rebecca (1940), Suspicion (1941), Spellbound (1945), Notorious (1946), Rope (1948), Strangers on a Train (1951), Dial M for Murder (1954), Rear Window (1954), Vertigo (1958), North by Northwest (1959), Psycho (1960), and The Birds (1963).

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