For some reason, I am having trouble posting my response today. Let's hope that the third time is a charm...
As mentioned in the curator's note, this scene operates as a prelude to the main story. What do learn about the character of Uncle Charlie in this prelude? Be specific.
First, I like the parallel between this opening scene and the opening to the film Psycho, with Hitchcock taking us up towards and into the window where we first see Charlie lying on the bed just as he takes up towards and through the window so we can spy on Marion and Sam, who are also lying on a bed. In this scene, we sense that Charlie has been involved in some type of criminal activity as suggested by the amounts of money lying on the table and the floor. He doesn't seem concerned about it. Does this suggest he regrets how he has earned the money? Also, we sense indecision on his part regarding staying in the room and awaiting his fate or leaving the room to confront it. We see this in some of his dialogue with Mrs. Martin when he talks about how even though the men are not his friends, he should speak with them anyway. Also, after Mrs. Martin leaves, Charlie paces the room, weighing his options, especially when he espies the men across the street. However, he finally decides to be bold and make the first move by not only walking towards the men, but actually brushing up against one of them as he passes by to show that he knows who they are and why they are there but also to show he is not afraid.
In what ways does this opening remind you of watching a film noir? If it doesn't remind you of a film noir, what makes the opening here different from the opening of a noir film like Siodmak's The Killers? (Note: If you haven't seen The Killers, it is fine to answer this question in general terms about your own personal expectations)
(possible spoilers) I have not seen the film version of "The Killers," but I was immediately reminded of the Hemingway story when I watched this scene. In both, the main character is lying on a bed, knowing that his pursuers are closing in. Each must decide whether to fight, flee, or simply surrender. At first, it seems Charlie has decided to surrender, accepting his fate. However, instead he chooses to leave the room and indirectly confront the men who are looking for him. By contrast, The Swede in "The Killers" resigns himself to his fate, it seems, by turning on his side and facing the wall. In both stories we aren't sure why the characters are being pursued. Not having seen all of Shadow of a Doubt yet, I'm assuming we will learn the answer to this question eventually. However, in the story "The Killers," we never learn what Andreson has done. One can speculate that since he is a boxer, perhaps he refused to take a dive in a fight, costing organized crime some money? Another "noir" element is SoaD once again is Hitchcock's use of lighting. This, I realize is not exclusively a noir element, but I think it works as one here, with the contrast between the children playing carelessly in the sunny street and the shadowy room where Charlie contemplates his next move, a room cast in even more shadow when Mrs. Martin draws the shade. Also, even though this scene does not contain the stereotypical "noir-style" dialogue with a voice over of a detective describing a "dame" who has just walked into his smoke-filled agency, we do hear Charlie say that the men outside have nothing on him. Lines like this establish the mystery in this film, raising questions in the viewers' minds.
As we move into Hitchcock's Hollywood years, his scores will take on more importance than they did during the British years. Music will play a big role in Shadow of a Doubt. The film's score is by Dimitri Tiomkin, the first of four film scores that the composer will create for Hitchcock. What effect does the Tiomkin score have on the mood, atmosphere, and even the pace of this opening scene?
Finally, the music also adds to the noir style of this film. Tiomkin begins with very light-hearted music while the children are playing outside and the music remains light-hearted at first when we enter Charlie's room while he is lying there talking to Mrs. Martin. However, the pace quickens with the use of tympani and strident violin strings when Charlie sees the men standing on the corner and as he walks past them, thinking perhaps they won't try anything with children playing in the street. I might be wrong with this analysis, but in "poetic" terms, the piano chords are "spondaic" or "trochaic," two poetic meters that suggest urgency or danger, unlike the more natural "iambic" pace that Charlie takes as he walks away from the camera and away from the men before they give chase. For me, this shows that Charlie is aware of the potential danger behind him, as noted with the harsh "trochaic" piano chords being contrasted with his calm rhythmic "iambic" walk. This is his way of showing that he is aware of the danger, but he doesn't care.
Thank you for sharing your insights with the scoring. This is an area where not only have I never studied, but I also where I lack basic background knowledge and understanding of terminology.