Wednesday, August 7, 2013

HIT ME WITH YOUR BEST SHOT: Shadow of a Doubt


Hit me with your best shot is back and this week we dig into some Hitchcock, with a look at his 1943 film "Shadow of a Doubt". This was my first viewing of the film and it was a uniquely interesting experience. The plot is about a young woman whose mysterious Uncle Charlie comes to pay a visit. They are very close, but he seems to be a hiding a secret. As the title suggests, there's a mystery involved and since it's Hitchcock, it's obviously going to be a murder mystery. What's so surprising then, is the film's lack of mystery. There really isn't any doubt concerning the pivotal crime at the heart of the film. It was my only issue with "Shadow of a Doubt', but Hitchcock makes up for this with the brilliant casting of Joseph Cotten. I particularly liked this actor-director collaboration and this is what I focused on for my favourite shot.

Click below for my favourite shot...


My favourite shot comes from Uncle Charlie's first dinner scene with his relatives. It begins in the middle of the conversation and the POV gives the impression that he's talking to the viewer. This breaking of the fourth wall is probably more obvious in a later dinner scene, but I like how cleverly it's used here. He leans in to grab our attention even more, before we realize that he's actually talking to his sister at the other end of the table. The shot itself isn't anything remarkable, but it emphasizes what I find most fascinating about the film.
The portrayal of Charlie throughout is so self-aware of it's "movie-ness", making it one of Hitchcock's most daring films. The other actors seem naturalistic and comitted to the suspension of disbelief, but Cotton's Uncle Charlie seems aware that he is performing. For example, that famous dinner monologue is clearly a manufactured movie moment. The cinematographer, screenwriter and composer contribute greatly to this perception, but it's mostly to Cotton's credit that it all works so well. He's so captivating that I'm sure even feminists could shrug off his misogyny.

7 comments:

  1. That dinner scene is just mad great, isn't it? and such a bracing closeup to puncture it when he really lets the misogyny fly to Teresa's horror

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    1. Yep, Joesph Cotten is so awesome in this.

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  2. You should check out this year's film called Stoker. It's not a remake of Shadow, but it draws influence from it for sure. The two would make a fantastic double feature!

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    1. I watched it earlier this year and yes, there are definitely some parallels.

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  3. Hi Shane! You have a really great site! I'm glad to have stumbled upon it! I'm trying to find an email address to contact you on to ask if you would please consider adding a link. Thanks and have a great day!

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    1. Thanks for visiting. Please check the About page above.

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