IMDb > Shadow of a Doubt (1943) > Reviews & Ratings - IMDb
Shadow of a Doubt
Top Links
trailers and videosfull cast and crewtriviaofficial sitesmemorable quotes
main detailscombined detailsfull cast and crewcompany credits
Awards & Reviews
user reviewsexternal reviewsawardsuser ratingsparents guide
Plot & Quotes
plot summarysynopsisplot keywordsmemorable quotes
Did You Know?
triviagoofssoundtrack listingcrazy creditsalternate versionsmovie connectionsFAQ
Other Info
box office/businessrelease datesfilming locationstechnical specsliterature listingsNewsDesk
taglines trailers and videos posters photo gallery
External Links
showtimesofficial sitesmiscellaneousphotographssound clipsvideo clips

Reviews & Ratings for
Shadow of a Doubt More at IMDbPro »

Write review
Filter: Hide Spoilers:
Page 1 of 24:[1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [Next]
Index 240 reviews in total 

114 out of 154 people found the following review useful:

The Master at his best.

Author: Exploding Penguin from Toronto, Canada
7 January 2004

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'.)


Was the above review useful to you?

113 out of 173 people found the following review useful:

Uncle Hitch

Author: abelardo64 from United States
23 January 2005

Uncle Charlie did it for me. I mistrusted the uncle thing as a term of endearment ever since. Joseph Cotten is the perfect charming monster. Uncle Charlie's urbanity becomes his most frightening feature. So plausible. So real. Thornton Wilder was Hitchcock's partner in crime this time and it shows. The structure is Our Townish, the characters, deliciously rich. Patricia Collinge's performance is so spot on that you're longing for more. The scenes between Henry Travers and Hume Cronyn are how I imagine the story meetings between Thornton Wilder and Alfred Hitchcock. Teresa Wright's eyes tell the whole story from the audience's point of view, even if the audience is one step ahead of her. Brilliant, because in Joseph Cotten's eyes we find his need for redemption or are we falling in the trap of this master manipulator? We are torn, just like Teresa Wright. I've seen "Shadow of a Doubt" 3 or 4 times but every time you're forced to take the trip with the same amount of commitment. I've been toying with the thought of a remake, I've been doing this lately, although I hate the idea of remakes of great movies, this one is one of those that in the right hands could have a real impact. Using Thornton Wilder's original script as the Bible, Steven Sodebergh could do scrumptious remake for the new millennium. Tim Robbins as uncle Charlie, can you imagine? Natalie Portman as his niece. Joan Cusak and William H Macy as her parents. Wouldn't you go to see that?

Was the above review useful to you?

68 out of 89 people found the following review useful:

Dark and brooding thriller from the master of suspense

Author: The_Void from Beverley Hills, England
3 January 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

It is well known that this film is Alfred Hitchcock's favourite of his own oeuvre, and it's a big favourite of mine also. It is also well documented that for this film, Hitchcock stated that he "wants to bring violence back into the home, where it belongs" and he has certainly succeeded at doing that. Hitchcock spends much of the early screen time building up the family at the centre of the tale, and then allowing the violence to come to them, which shows Hitchcock's mastery of the medium as showing the story develop in this way makes the tale much more frightening than if we hadn't got to know the family at the centre of the story first. Joseph Cotten stars as uncle Charlie; a man fleeing Philadelphia to escape the law after marrying and then murdering several rich widows. He goes to stay with his sister and her family, which includes a husband, two young children and the eldest daughter; his niece and namesake; also called 'Charlie'.

Hitchcock puts the focus of the story on young Charlie and her relationship with her uncle. This gives the story a frightening angle as it follows the classic tale of the strange uncle. It's also well done as young Charlie is shown to be the sweetest of characters, and when the dark uncle Charlie enters the fray, her sweet world is infected by nightmares, which also gives way to elements of the classic 'coming of age' tale to enter the proceedings. As if that wasn't enough, Shadow of a Doubt also exposes the trust we put in our loved ones, and how any person is likely to try and shift the blame, or ignore it completely, if their loved one has done wrong. This is shown by the way that young Charlie still attempts to cover for her beloved uncle even when all the evidence is pointing to him being guilty. Hitchcock has turned this thriller, which could easily have been routine, into a complex study of a family that retains it's interest throughout due to the multiple themes on display.

Joseph Cotten was the absolute perfect choice to play uncle Charlie. His portrayal is picture perfect; he carries with him an atmosphere of dread and morbidity throughout, even when he's not doing anything wrong. A role of this sort is difficult to get right, as it's all to easy to underplay it so it isn't effective, or to overstate it so it becomes ridiculous; but Cotten gets the performance spot on. Teresa Wright, who stars alongside Cotten in the role of the other Charlie also does well and delivers a mature and assured performance that fits her character brilliantly. Some of the supporting roles look a little suspect at times, but on the whole the acting from the support is good enough.

The ending of the film comes somewhat against the run of play and is maybe a little bit too over the top after the rest of the film, which is largely down to earth. However, it does work and a big ending isn't something I am in the habit of complaining about. This is up there with Hitchcock's best work and therefore is highly recommended.

Was the above review useful to you?

65 out of 85 people found the following review useful:

Brilliance From Hitchcock & Cotten

Author: Snow Leopard from Ohio
14 May 2001

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"Shadow of a Doubt" is one of Alfred Hitchcock's most brilliant and most carefully-constructed films, and is further notable as one of the very finest performances of Joseph Cotten, in his role as "Uncle Charlie". Both the movie and the central character are thought-provoking and rich in detail.

The film has an intriguing form that Hitchcock used a number of times (for example, in "Strangers on a Train" and "Frenzy"), that of setting up carefully constructed contrasts between two main characters, contrasts that in turn reflect a further complex of themes in the movie's broader setting and story. Here, the central contrast comes from the relationship between Uncle Charlie and his niece "young Charlie" (Teresa Wright). Their unusually close relationship creates tension and intrigue that go beyond the basic concern of the main story-line (which is, namely, whether Uncle Charlie is the elusive serial killer sought by the police). The uncle-niece relationship also mirrors a great many other topics explored by the film: most obviously the contrast between the small-town atmosphere of Santa Rosa, where Uncle Charlie has come to hide out with his sister's family, but also the complicated nature of the other relationships that we see. A fine supporting cast led by Henry Travers, Patricia Collinge, and Hume Cronyn help us focus in on hidden aspects of small-town family and neighborhood life.

"Shadow of a Doubt" is less known and celebrated than Hitchcock's 50's and early 60's work, and even than some of his 30's British films, most probably because it does not contain any of the director's famous set pieces, which were already a part of his pictures well before "Shadow of a Doubt" was made. After all, it is a movie about a suspected serial killer, and not only do we never see him kill anyone, he never even tries anything violent until much later in the film. But what "Shadow of a Doubt" lacks in the spectacular it makes up in tension and characterization, especially in Cotten's brilliant performance. He is by turns charming, calculating, suspicious, and menacing, a balance very difficult to maintain with credibility for an entire film. Cotten's skill and Hitchcock's direction make Uncle Charlie one of Hitchcock's most memorable characters.

Though more slow-paced than most of the famous director's works, this is still one of his greatest, and should be very satisfying to any fan of Hitchcock, of Cotten, or of noirish/crime thrillers.

Was the above review useful to you?

50 out of 60 people found the following review useful:

Family Feud

Author: BumpyRide from TCM's Basement
17 September 2004

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I sometimes think that people who don't like this film, don't like it because you aren't bonked over the head by fancy special effects or being shown a bloody knife stuck in someone's back. Psychological thrillers take place in the mind, not splashed across the screen so you don't have to think but sit in your seat and watch all the pretty colors flash by!

The acting is superb. Theresa Wright is a gem, and holds her own quite nicely against veteran actor, Joseph Cotton. What you need to look for in this film are the subtle cues given that build until Charlie suspects her beloved uncle is a murderer, and eventually even tries to kill her, not once but several times.

Made when the world was at war, I find it especially disturbing to realize that evil could and can be anywhere. Even sitting around your own dining room table.

Was the above review useful to you?

60 out of 81 people found the following review useful:

One of his very best - I've loved it since I was a child!

Author: MovieAddict2016 from UK
5 November 2005

"Shadow of a Doubt" may only be listed as #181 on IMDb's "Top 250" list, but in my opinion it far outweighs some of the films higher up on that list and is one of Hitch's very best films.

Joseph Cotten plays Charlie, a crook on the run from the police. Left stranded and pursued, he decides to move in with his brother's family. His niece - who loves him and sees him as a sort of perfect role model - at first is excited that her Uncle Charlie is coming...but then things start to get strange. Charlie acts oddly and, at times, violent. She begins to become suspicious of her uncle as he becomes more suspicious of her own awareness.

The ending of "Shadow of a Doubt" is classic Hitchcock and some of the best stuff he's done. The entire film is taut and suspenseful, well-filmed and realistic. It manages to focus on family ties and the struggles within the family itself while it also juggles the whole theme of an outcast family member.

In the end, however, it's just a nail-biting thriller that - now over sixty years old - still reigns as one of the absolute best of its genre.

Was the above review useful to you?

50 out of 71 people found the following review useful:

Among the greatest Hitchock classics of the 40's

Author: Mika Pykäläaho ( from Järvenpää, Finland
17 November 2003

The ultimate master of suspense Alfred Hitchcock directed his fascinating masterpiece "Shadow of a doubt" at the age of 44 and it was a terrific improvement after the classic "Saboteur" which was definitely a great Hitch movie too, don't get me wrong here. Could it be more simple: this one just had a perfect story that really touched the audience and the whole wicked idea of finding out you have a killer uncle is most exciting when you think of it. It could happen to anybody, I'm sure. No wonder this was one of Hitchcock's own personal favorites. "Shadow of a doubt" may not be the finest Hitchcock-movie of the 40's, though. I admit I haven't seen all of them but I think "Rope" was ever better and "Spellbound" at least just as marvelous but it's safe to say this is one of the most stylish Hitchcock-movies of the decade. What a shame Joseph Cotten never became a bigger star because his powerful performance was one of the most memorable elements of the film.

Was the above review useful to you?

32 out of 40 people found the following review useful:

Not the standard Hitchcock stuff * MILD SPOILER*

Author: mstomaso from Vulcan
22 July 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Shadow of a Doubt is classified as a Film Noir thriller. While I can see elements of film noir and elements of the thriller genre in this film, I think this film is more of a character study. It's a story about what happens when a soul-mate turns out to be somebody unexpected.

The cast is excellent, and the lead characters - played by Joseph Cotten and Teresa Wright - are very well imagined, written and portrayed. Both characters called for sweeping and dramatic personality changes which Wright and Cotten pulled off convincingly. Wright plays a very young woman (19-ish) living with her family and sort of depressed and aimless, while Cotten is her namesake and favorite uncle, Charlie. Uncle Charlie has come to visit and brought good cheer to the entire family, but shortly after his arrival, young Charlie begins to discover that Uncle Charlie has some sinister secrets. As the clues begin to add up to a coherent conclusion, Wright's character is forced to decide what to do about her growing, troublesome, understanding.

In typical Hitchcockian fashion, the film toys with its audience for the first 3/4ths and does not reveal itself until its almost too late - playing on paranoia, misleading and ambiguous dialog, and terrific acting to create equivocation. However, as you will see, this is not the standard Hitchcock stuff - in the end it has more to do with the characters and what they do than the action and resolution of the ingenious plot.

The Hitch' blows me away almost every time, and Shadow of a Doubt is one of his best. If you haven't seen it, you should. It's a very thoughtful and exquisitely executed character study about a very young and very bright woman, encountering the heavy side of life for the first time, and the choices she makes. Worth seeing for Wright's performance alone (easily Oscar-worthy), Shadow of a Doubt is a timeless piece of noir-esquire originality.

Was the above review useful to you?

39 out of 56 people found the following review useful:

Outstanding Hitchcock

Author: harry-76 from Cleveland, Ohio
25 May 2004

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

For the kind of thing Hitchcock does, this is one of his best films. Not really a whodunit, for the identity of the [serial] killer's revealed early on.

It therefore becomes a challenge to maintain high interest thereafter. This is done through fine performances, direction, photography and production values.

Cast against type, Joesph Cotton is wonderful--a perfect ironic Hitchcock villain: charming, sweet-talking, and suave. The kind unsuspecting, vulnerable widows might be drawn to. Cotton's own personality works magic in bringing out all the nuances of personality in this role.

One of the most talented of actors, Teresa Wright, is cast in the lead role. Her enormous talent and thespian integrity are put to the test here, and they triumph in a great performance.

Like Cathy O'Donnell, another sweet, girl-next-door type, Wright's persona ran out early in Hollywood, and she was prematurely pushed into matronly roles. A shame, for there was none finer than Wright.

The script and production is clean, concise, sharp and economic, and "Shadow of a Doubt" remains one of Hitch's greatest cinematic achievements.

Was the above review useful to you?

20 out of 22 people found the following review useful:

"Average families are the best"

Author: Steffi_P from Ruritania
22 February 2009

Alfred Hitchcock's style as a director was a bit like a train – it ran perfectly well, but only along its own lines. He wasn't comfortable adapting his style to suit the material, but when the material suited his style he could do incredible things.

Three years and five pictures into his Hollywood career, Hitch had been having some trouble finding projects he was comfortable with. He had made a couple of adventure thrillers in the vein of his late 30s British films, but the old magic wasn't there. Finally, with Shadow of a Doubt he came upon a project that was right up his street. It represents a welcome return to the domestic murder dramas that had given him his earliest successes (The Lodger, Blackmail), with a storyline ideal for Hitchcock. It is the purest example of murder in a "normal" setting, bringing the audience uncomfortably close to the killer, helped along with plenty of the grisly gallows humour that the Master loved.

Hitch's British pictures had great charm and character, but they were often technically a little haphazard. By now though he knows exactly how to use the camera to manipulate the audience. He begins by carrying us into the story, sweeping in over the city through scenery both pretty and ugly, to home in on an average looking neighbourhood. From then on, every shot, move and edit is calculated to keep up the suspense and unfold the plot. Whereas those early films were swamped and sometimes spoiled by showy camera tricks, Hitch now uses those techniques sparingly, like playing a trump card. For example, he has Joseph Cotton look directly into the camera for a brief moment as he snatches the newspaper back from Theresa Wright. Another trick is to have the camera dolly back as a character advances, only at a faster speed than the actor is moving, which gives a very dizzying effect.

Special mention should also be made of Dimitri Tiomkin's score. Tiomkin was the best composer Hitch worked with before Bernard Hermann, and one of the few who really understood how a Hitchcock film needs to be scored. His sparse string arrangements really capture that sense of spiralling terror without overpowering the scene and turning it into melodrama. He interpolates Franz Lehar's Merry Widow waltz at just the right level, making it noticeable but never overstated– throwing in just a bar or two at an opportune moment, sometimes disguising it in a minor key.

We also have a great cast lined up here. This is among Joseph Cotton's finest performances, which is unusual because Hitch was not a brilliant director of actors. I believe the reason is that, although his soft, honest features meant he usually played clean-cut good guys (as well as making him the perfect choice for the friendly uncle no-one would suspect), he was actually at his best when playing villains. That air of affected friendliness, which gives way to a deadpan monotone, is ironically far more convincing than when he attempted to play genuine niceness. Theresa Wright also does a brilliant job of handling her character's transition from childlike innocence to knowing cynicism. The icing on the cake is a couple of spot-on comic relief supporting parts from Henry Travers and Hume Cronyn.

It's quite appropriate that in his cameo for Shadow of a Doubt, Hitchcock is shown holding all the cards, because here he really did have all the elements working in his favour. It marks the beginning of his golden age and lays down the blueprint for such classics as Rear Window, Vertigo and Psycho. This is about as close to perfect as Hitchcock's pictures get.

Was the above review useful to you?

Page 1 of 24:[1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [Next]

Add another review

Related Links

Plot summary Plot synopsis Ratings
Awards External reviews Parents Guide
Plot keywords Main details Your user reviews
Your vote history