Shadow Of A Doubt Essay

3261 words - 13 pages

Shadow of a Doubt

Shadow of a Doubt is an Alfred Hitchcock film that was shot on location in the 1940's town of Santa Rosa, California. The town itself is representative of the ideal of American society. However, hidden within this picturesque community dark corruption threatens to engulf a family. The tale revolves around Uncle Charlie, a psychotic killer whose namesake niece, a teenager girl named Charlie, is emotionally thrilled by her Uncles arrival. However her opinion slowly changes as she probes into her mysterious uncle. In the film, director/producer Alfred Hitchcock blends conventions of film noir with those of a small town domestic comedy as a means of commenting on the contradictions in American values.
     In the beginning the film is immediately set up in the film noir style. Under the opening credits a shadowy backround image is shown kaleidoscopically. Couples dressed in elegant ballroom gowns and suits waltz together dizzyingly as the "Merry Widow Waltz" plays. The scene has nothing to do with the drama to follow (until Charlie's crimes are revealed.) The titles dissolve in to a panoramic view of a bridge, further dissolves take us first to junkyard and then to a scene of children playing in the street. The city is shown as a dirty, dark place. We are taken to a Philadelphia rooming house (shown with a number 13 on the door.) Inside we are introduced to "Uncle Charlie" (Joseph Cotten). He is reclining stiffly in bed during the day in a seedy room. . He plays with the phallic cigar that he is smoking, seemingly bitter and cynical. On the bedside table next to seemingly indifferent and fatigued man is and an open billfold with a carelessly strewn pile of bills on top (some of the bills have fallen to the floor and lie strewn around). The overweight, middle-aged landlady knocks on the door and enters, identifying him as Mr. Spencer and informing him that two men have been asking for him. As per his instructions to not disturb him, she didn't let them in, however, they have not left, instead they retreated to the street corner to stake out the boarding house. Noticing that he looks exhausted and depressed (he passively remains on his bed during their entire conversation), she suggests that he should get some rest. Then she notices his money cluttered all about and hurries forward to straighten it up and scolds him to be more careful with his belongings. Although all indications reveal her boarder's underworld connections, she naively ignores them. To allow him to continue his nap, the landlady lowers the blind before leaving and its shadow is drawn down over Charlie's face. Rather than inducing sleep, the darkness causes him to sit up alertly. Charlie snuffs out his cigar, finishes his drink, rises and angrily hurls his glass against floor. He raises the blind and observes the two visitors waiting outside for him and speaks: "What do you know? You're bluffing. You've nothing on...

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