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MissGoddess

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I revisited The Amazing Mr. X (aka The Spiritualist) last night for the first time in a few years...and, yes, it is a loopy melodrama a la Nicholas Ray in noir clothing. Alton's cinematography is even better than I remembered. As a woman- (actually women-) centric noir, it would make a pairing with *My Name Is Julia Ross* (did they share the rocks, beach and water?).

 

As a trivial matter of personal taste, my preferences are still T-Men, He Walked by Night, Raw Deal, and Reign of Terror, but along with Hollow Triumph, it is part of perhaps the finest string of noirs to come out of a studio. Someday I must see *Bury Me Dead* and *Canon City* to fill in the gaps. Thanks for the providing the impetus for watching this again.

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ChiO said it: *As a trivial matter of personal taste, my preferences are still T-Men, He Walked by Night, Raw Deal, and Reign of Terror, but along with Hollow Triumph, it is part of perhaps the finest string of noirs to come out of a studio. Someday I must see Bury Me Dead and Canon City to fill in the gaps...*

 

It could be sooner than you think...

http://www.roxie.com/events/details.cfm?eventid=1BE49407%2DE598%2D743B%2D163748D4B2BC972D

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_Dewey_ screamed out from his nightmare: *It could be sooner than you think...*

 

Unfortunately, whoever programmed this incredible lineup put *Canon City* a couple days too early. But that Tuesday, May 19 through Monday, May 25 schedule is calling my name. A new John Alton fix with The Madonna's Secret; Conte and Crawford squaring off in New York Confidential; Duryea and Mansfield in *The Burglar* (my head may explode); and Lupino and Malone together, directed by the quintessential women's director, Don Siegel, in Private Hell 36!

 

I left my heart (and sanity) in San Francisco....

 

Message was edited by: ChiO

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> {quote:title=ChiO wrote:}{quote}directed by the quinessential women's director, Don Siegel...

>

 

Hahahahahahaaaa!! You two ought to have your own radio show, you're breaking me up!

 

I haven't seen any of these flicks your discussing (except maybe New York Confidential).

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Hola, Back Alley B -- Frank! Yes, I know, long time no see (or, hardly ever) on

this thread.

 

You've got a little bit of a history in this world, Zeena.

 

I just discovered your film noir resource link. It is FANTASTIC!!!!

 

I'm glad you liked it. That list has really helped me find my way in the darkness.

 

Hey there, Creepy Gal -- What??? Isn't this the mushy love story forum?? HA!!

 

If you read ChiO's posts about Timothy Carey, you may think it to be. :D

 

Haven't you heard?? I have been lurking on the dark side this week... with

sinister films like... HARVEY.

 

Why is there a shopping cart between us?

 

Actually... I do look in here from time to time for a good read... you folks have a lot

going on w/ the whole "NOIR" side of life over here. I only made my comment the

other day just because I like Shadow of a Doubt so much... and to give you guys

a "thumbs up".

 

We're awaiting Rick Spade's return from Santa Rosa. If he makes it. I wonder how

many mushrooms he ate.

 

I think Old Uncle Charlie is a VERY nicely played MONSTER... very scary and so

quietly menacing... In fact.. it's my favorite for both Joseph Cotten.. and Teresa

Wright.. This is the film I think of first for both of them.

 

I haven't seen many Teresa Wright performances, but this is my favorite of hers of

date. And it's also my favorite Cotten performance, too. We agree. That means we're

both goners.

 

PS.. Re: Ann Sheridan... I am NO authority because I have only seen her in a

few films...but I got to see King's Row the other night... She was TERRIFIC... flirty,

fun, and VERY gutsy... yet.. compassionate... It's an interesting twisted tale in

some respects so it might be right up your alley.

 

Flirty, fun, gutsy, and compassionate? Now that's a gal!

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Yo, ChiO -- FrankSoulessGrimes inquired:

 

It's that obvious, huh?

 

What's better, Oph?ls or Blast of Silence? Ohhhh, I know how you love those

kind of questions.

 

Answer: The Passion of Joan of Arc. And until you watch it, you will continue to have no

Soul.

 

You mean, I can continue dancing with Belle? Ahhhh, the fire feels so warm and soothing.

 

Given your completist tendencies (and ignoring the term "better"), however, go with

Blast of Silence first. Then you can probably be the first on your block to say, "I have

seen the complete film directoral output of Allen Baron." Consider it repayment for

urging me to watch Dementia (thank you, thank you, thank you, by the way). Then

hunker down with Ophuls -- you won't be disappointed either way.

 

It's Baron's Canon Blast then.

 

What's up, Arkadin? -- Nope. Not me. I'll have to be brief here as my regular

computer is being rebuilt. I managed to get wifey's old warhorse up and running, but

pages are taking over a min. to load and the thing crashes after 5 min and I have to

reboot.

 

Are you using a hand crank? Been there.

 

I see Night of the Hunter more connected to 20's Germanic expressionism horror

than noir (using Gish was an intentional link to the silent era). In the talking film

world, I see it closer to dark fairy tale films like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

(1937) or even Argento's Suspiria (1977).

 

So it's not ChiO who is the evil one, but you? :D I cannot disagree with what you say.

The German Expressionism of The Night of the Hunter is what places me in

a trance. It's definitely a dark fairy tale, ala many of my favorite German silents. One of

the toughest sells about The Night of the Hunter being film noir is the beginning,

when Gish tells the children to gather around for a Bible story.

 

All right, Dewey, where do you come down on this one? Is The Night of the Hunter

a film noir?

 

As far as a great Sheridan film for a newbie, one I very much recommend is

Edge of Darkness (1943). You can find a small thread on this one in the War Film

section.

 

An Errol Flynn war film? What kind of sucker do you take me for? Actually, it does

sound very interesting. Is this your favorite Ann performance?

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Great news, everyone! WHV has confirmed a FIFTH volume of Film Noir coming this year! I'll post it separately to make sure everyone looks at it, even if they don't check this thread regularly!

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Hi there Mr. Grey....

 

I haven't seen many Teresa Wright performances, but this is my favorite of hers of

date. And it's also my favorite Cotten performance, too. We agree. That means we're

both goners.

 

I was so happy I got to catch this one again today... I have not seen it in a while.... there were s few things I had forgotten... and even some things I had not noticed before.. And LOTS of fun getting creeped out all over again. Ha.

 

And PS... you are right... we're goners!! Ha.:-)

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>

> Do you remember why Shadow of a Doubt didn't do much for you? Is it because the

> protagonist is a teenage girl? This is rather unique for Hitch. Young and Innocent is

> the other Hitch film I can think of that features something similar.

>

 

Hi There Frank, (and Rohanka, MissGoddess, and anyone else who has recently posted on Shadow of a Doubt

 

Well, I "revisited" this one earlier today, and the first thing I will admit is that I certainly found it more interesting than the first and only other time I saw it. I've gone back and reviewed the postings by several of you, all of whom had some very positive things to say about it, and I see where you're coming from. However, even after saying all that, I still don't think this film is top-notch Hitchcock, and as I took a few notes while I was watching, it all started to come back to me as to why I feel it falls short.

 

Most of my reservations are more about the actual story than anything else. I think both Joseph Cotten and Teresa Wright (and just about everyone in the cast) are very good (although I kept waiting for Charlie's father to utter some "wonderful life" bromides because it's always very difficult to see Henry Travers in any role and not think of Clarence, the Angel in "It's a Wonderful Life (but that's a whole other story). Frankly, I think the two weakest characters, and performances, are the two cops, played by Carey and Ford. I didn't really believe these guys were cops for one moment. They're suposed to be tracking a serial killer, have come cross-country in pursuit, and they're going to act as imposter journalist and a photographer and interview the family? What cops would do that? And they botch it so bad, even young Charlie figures it out pretty quickly. Again, this is more a flaw in the story, but I also didn't think Carey and Ford were not persuasive as cops.

 

For me, the story had several more flaws and plot holes. The way Hitchcock sets up the Merry Widow killer situation is very superficial and unlike most of his other suspense-filled classics, this is totally unsuspenseful. We know pretty much from the beginning that Charlie is the killer they're looking for, and we spend the entire movie watching him trying to deceive his niece, whose only reaction when she learns his true identity is to try to shield her mother from the truth.

 

In addition, the whole aspect of the cops pursuing Charlie all the way to Santa Rosa has some gaping holes. The focus is on him and one other guy back East, and we are told at great length that Charlie has never allowed his picture to be taken. But why is he a suspect in the first place? Has anyone connected with the dead victims ever given the police a description of someone who had been involved with one of them so the cops had something to go on. If so, I don't remember anyone saying so. Why doesn't young Charlie question the cops more closely about why they think her uncle is a serial killer? Where is there evidence to begin with? They must have some, otherwise how the heck did they track the guy 3,000 miles?

 

To make matters worse, we learn late in the movie that the other suspect was being pursued and then ran into the propeller blade of a plane at the airport trying to escape (conveniently not only killing him, but ostensibly making it pretty difficult to take a good look at him for purposes of identification). Therefore, the two cops in Santa Rosa become immediately convinced that the other guy was indeed the serial killer and are prepared to leave Santa Rosa. Most smart cops would not immediately jump to that conclusion because at the very least, the other guy could have been running from pursuit for some other reason. (Someone once said, that everyone has something to hide, and when the cops chase you, you automatically assume they've discovered your secret and run away). In any event, by this time Charlie is convinced her uncle is the real killer, so why doesn't she tell the cops to stay and reveal her suspicions? Instead, she puts herself in jeopardy, and she nearly gets killed for her foolishness. And we're told she does it just because she doesn't want her mother to find out the truth about her own brother. Wow, that's pretty illogical to me.

 

Well, I don't want to completely nitpick here, because as I've said in a previous post, many Hitchcock films have some real "stretches" in the realm of logic, and I guess everyone has different ideas about how much to let slide and still enjoy the movie. I'll just make two other comments. Frank, you posed the question wondering if my problem with the movie perhaps stemmed from the fact that Teresa Wright's character was a teenager. My answer was no, and now I must say after seeing it again: she's a teenager in this movie? To me, her character looked to be about 22, (Teresa Wright was actually 25 when she made the movie), and that was something else that kept bothering me: Why did she keep hanging around the house all the time? Didn't she work? Or at the very least, she could have been in college (or some trade school or something). Am I the only one who thought young Charlie didn't look that young? In addition, Macdonald Carey's character falls hopelessly in love with her, and he looks to be about 30 here, and I'm not quite sure _he_ thinks she's a teenager. (Frankly, that was another aspect of the film that I didn't buy: their romance, at least on his part, seemed totally out of place. The guy's in town two or three days tracking a serial killer and he falls head over heels in love with the guy's niece? Then he starts spouting romantic platitudes, which frankly seem to embarass Charlie more than anything else. How about keeping you eye on the ball there, Mac? )

 

Finally, Frank, you said one of the things you liked about the character of Charles was the fact that he was pure hate, not just evil, one of the few Hitchcock villains to be like that. I agree with you, and frankly to me that's why he was much _less_ interesting as a character. The Hitchcock villains I like best are the charming, scheming, ones, the ones you know are evil, but you still can't help somewhat admire them. Two prime examples: Claude Rains in Notorious, and James Mason in North by Northwest, both of whom are pretty sinister, but still manage to convince you that there are two sides to every personality. Charlie Oakley in this movie was too transparent and one-dimensional for me, and it makes me wonder how well this "normal" family living in a sedate, almost bucolic community ever knew him. I mean, when he's sitting at the dinner table giving that speech about the vileness of women, especially rich widows, was that the _first_ time the family ever heard him say that? Because if it wasn't, that should have been a clue to his psychopathy a long time ago, and brother or no brother, he wouldn't be eating in my house again anytime soon.

 

So, I guess I'm still going to be in the minority here in my feelings about this film. I certainly don't think it's terrible, but I wouldn't place it anywhere near my top six or seven Hitchcock films, all of which I think feature either Cary Grant or Jimmy Stewart ( the one exception being the one with that daffy old, dame, Mrs. Bates!).

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That was an absolutely brilliant post, Rick! I really enjoyed reading your take on

Shadow of a Doubt. You made many terrific points and I'm going to reply to

them all. I've got my work cut out for me, but I'm up for it.

 

What has happened to me? I'm going to be writing all over the board now.

 

Ohhhh, I'm going to pay for this compliment, but... I just love how deep discussions

almost always evolve in Miss Goddess' threads. She always creates a world where

others wish to be. She's always very inviting of others. But, sadly, just as the

Newtons found out, open houses mean those looking to hurt others can deceptively

walk in the front door, too. There's the catch.

 

Thank you for taking the time to share YOUR opinions on Shadow of a Doubt. Anyone

who reads your words will see the thoughtfulness behind them. I greatly appreciate that.

 

I shall return with my reply to your wonderful words.

 

And, in case you are interested, here are my favorite Hitch films:

 

1. Psycho

2. Vertigo

3. Rear Window

4. Strangers on a Train

5. The 39 Steps

6. Shadow of a Doubt

7. Notorious

8. North by Northwest

9. Spellbound

10. Frenzy

11. To Catch a Thief

12. Dial M for Murder

13. Rope

14. Foreign Correspondent

15. The Birds

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That is a wonderful write-up on "Shadow of a Doubt", Rickspade, it's very nice of you to share your thoughts with others. I have to catch up with everyone else and hope to be doing so just as soon as I've had a chance to watch my recording of this great movie.

 

And I do agree that it's nice to have a place where you can have long conversations about the greatest movies of all time - most of which we end up watching on TCM! B-)

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> {quote:title=FrankGrimes wrote:}{quote}As far as a great Sheridan film for a newbie, one I very much recommend is

> Edge of Darkness (1943). You can find a small thread on this one in the War Film

> section.

>

> An Errol Flynn war film? What kind of sucker do you take me for? Actually, it does

> sound very interesting. Is this your favorite Ann performance?

 

This topic might be better discussed on a separate thread as this is The Noir Gallery. As far as noir films, Ann did very little in the genre:

 

*Nora Prentiss* (1947)

*The Unfaithful* (1947)

*Woman on the Run* (1950)

 

*Edge of Darkness* is an incredible film and you should definitely see it. It's hard for me to pin down a favorite movie. Sheridan is much like Cary Grant in the fact that she could pretty much do anything, but audiences expected a certain type from her and she delivered the goods. Some people might think her roles are similar, but they would be mistaking this for her ability to take widely different genres (comedy, drama, etc) and make them work within her style, just as Grant did. Another thing about many Sheridan movies is the fact that she brings out the best in her co-stars much like Myrna Loy, but unlike Loy, Sheridan is usually front and center. Whereas Myrna would give up a bit of spotlight to let other characters shine, Sheridan seems to motivate her surrounding players and get wonderful performances and interplay from them (she certainly got more from Reagan than Bette Davis did!). From what I know about your taste (which might be completely wrong!), I'd take a look at her supporting role in *They Drive By Night* (1940) which is available on DVD (many of her best films are OOP) and go from there.

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> This topic might be better discussed on a separate thread as this is The Noir Gallery. As far as noir films, Ann did very little in the genre:

 

On this, I agree with you completely, Arkadin. Maybe someone would like to start a separate Ann Sheridan thread either here or in the "Your Favorites" forum?

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>

> This topic might be better discussed on a separate thread as this is The Noir Gallery. As far as noir films, Ann did very little in the genre:

>

> *Nora Prentiss* (1947)

> *The Unfaithful* (1947)

> *Woman on the Run* (1950)

>

> It's hard for me to pin down a favorite performance. Sheridan is much like Cary Grant in the fact that she could pretty much do anything, but audiences expected a certain type from her and she delivered the goods. Some people might think her performances are similar, but they would be mistaking this for her ability to take widely different roles and make them work within her style, just as Grant did. *Edge of Darkness* is an incredible film with great performances. You should definitely see it. Another thing about many Sheridan movies is the fact that she brings out the best in her co-stars much like Myrna Loy did, but unlike Loy, Sheridan is usually front and center. Whereas Myrna would give up a bit of spotlight to let other characters shine, Sheridan seems to motivate her surrounding players and get incredible performances from them (she certainly got more from Reagan than Bette Davis did!). From what I know about your taste (which might be completely wrong!), I'd take a look at her supporting role in *They Drive By Night* (1940) which is available on DVD (many of her best films are OOP) and go from there.

 

I agree, Arkadin; in fairness to noir fans we probably should take this discussion elsewhere. However, I just wanted to say briefly that I thought your take on Annie's films and her talent was terrific. As a great fan of Ann Sheridan, I couldn't have said it better myself. The only thing I would add to your point about her motivating her surrounding players, is to mention her pairings with James Cagney. For me, Cagney never gave a bad, or even a mediocre performance, in anything. But when he was teamed up with Sheridan, he positively shined. Maybe it was all that red hair they both had!

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That is a great gallery, Arkadin! Thanks for sharing.

 

Won't you do us the honor and start the Ann Sheridan thread? It seems to me you know as much about her as anyone else here in the forums, if not more.

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> {quote:title=Arkadin wrote:}{quote}

> Rick, we definitely agree on Ann. And yes, she should have her own thread--and Boxset of films (are you listening TCM?)!

>

> Have you been here?

>

> http://tinyurl.com/djfbxs

 

 

Agree on all counts. And yes, I have been there, and have that sight bookmarked. Great pictures. Thanks.

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>

> Thank you for taking the time to share YOUR opinions on Shadow of a Doubt. Anyone

> who reads your words will see the thoughtfulness behind them. I greatly appreciate that.

>

> I shall return with my reply to your wonderful words.

>

> And, in case you are interested, here are my favorite Hitch films:

>

> 1. Psycho

> 2. Vertigo

> 3. Rear Window

> 4. Strangers on a Train

> 5. The 39 Steps

> 6. Shadow of a Doubt

> 7. Notorious

> 8. North by Northwest

> 9. Spellbound

> 10. Frenzy

> 11. To Catch a Thief

> 12. Dial M for Murder

> 13. Rope

> 14. Foreign Correspondent

> 15. The Birds

 

 

Thanks, and I look forward to reading your take on my comments on the film.

 

In the meantime, let me say I love your Hitchcock list (I'm embarrassed that I forgot Strangers on a Train when I said that my favorite Hitch movies were all with Cary, Jimmy or Mrs. Bates; Robert Walker in Strangers is one of Hitchcock's, and cinema's, greatest and most sinister villains) I think I'd bump To Catch a Thief up somewhere into the top ten and drop Shadow out of it. I haven't seen The 39 Steps in so long, I'd have to see it again to figure out where to place it. Other than that, my list of top Hitchcock films would look almost identical to yours.

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Great Hitchcock list!

 

Rick, if you are interested in watching "The 39 Steps" again, it's scheduled for Apr 11 (07:30AM) and Jun 27, (04:30AM) on TCM.

 

It's a great movie - I also haven't seen it in ages.

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Wow Rick Spade... tell us how you really feel about Shadow of a Doubt! (Ha!) :-)

 

Ok.. I think maybe you are right about it not being a "top notch" film in the style of most Hitchcock films... it IS different from many of them in a lot of respects.. and I can also see where that and a lot of the "hard to buy" plot lines might be a turn off for you because I see from some of your other writings that you are a hard core noir kinda viewer... And based on my very limited knowledge of all things noir, I think sometimes those sorts of films are a lot more blatant in their honesty and often go out of their way to show their character's motivations in the harshest light of reality... (and if I am off on that... forgive me... I truly do NOT have a "nose for noir") But that may be part of what makes you want to "buy' the story more in order to like it... (at least I think... forgive me if I read you wrong)

 

If it helps you to understand better why none of the stuff that bothers you about this film bothers me... First of all, I never knew this was an Alfred Hitchcock film until several years ago... long after I had already seen it and liked it at least a couple of times... so I didn't have that sort of "Hitch" expectation about it... And I do agree, it doesn't necessarily seem "Hitch-ish" but not all of his films did... But I think you CAN see his influence on the film in a lot of the interesting "shots" and the way some of the story was filmed... but again... I am no expert on HIM either... so I likely would not explain it as well as others could. I don't know really what sort of "class" this film would best be called... Also, to me, it is not so much a "noir" or even a "mystery" or a "thriller".... but maybe it is more of a "psychological drama" with a certain level of "on the edge of your seat" suspense (at least for me) that comes from watching to see how all the pieces of the story will finally be put together and what sort of end result will come of it all.

 

For me, this film has never really been about "buying" some of the hard to buy plot lines so much as it has been about the characters and how they interact... especially the two Charlies. And it is also about "doubt" and how it plays on a person's perspective... first with young Charlie... and then also with Uncle Charlie as well. (And then also eventually with Ann too, which by the way... THAT is one of the things I never noticed before... how SHE seems to not want to be around Uncle Charlie all of a sudden and then later we find out that she and the "photographer" detective have been having all sorts of interesting conversations... he probably planted some seeds of doubt in HER mind about her uncle as well.. only maybe a little less "openly" than they did with Charlie... )

 

But anyway... Young Charlie goes from loving her uncle and more or less "worshiping" him to suddenly hating the very ground he walks on... And "doubt" becomes the running shoes that more or less lead her little feet down this sudden path of change. She doesn't waste too much time trying to ignore it all. Rather than rest in the blind faith she may have had for him as a child... the "new" young adult Charlie sees that she MUST put an end to the "wondering".. no matter what the consequence.. and she is very "proactive" in putting the doubt to rest... one way or another, come what may. I think this is due in part to the fact that she discerned for herself there was something going on with her uncle even before the two detectives told her what that "something" was.. (though I am sure she did not think it would be anything nearly so awful as what it ended up being when all was said and done) And then... when her uncle basically "comes clean" and confirms what she has been able to find out for herself... the "doubt" is all cleared up for her in an ugly and harsh way and the rest of her time in the story is spent trying to wrestle with what to DO about what she knows.

 

And I know you had a problem with it, but I can totally see why she wants to keep things quiet and get him away from there out of love and concern for her mother. She has a sort of "leadership" role in that family... She works with her mother to supervise the children, keep the house, cook, (and there are other times when she even seems to supercede her mother in a way at times.) Her mother really depends on her for a lot... And all throughout the film you can see how Charlie takes that seriously.

 

At that party where the mom goes on and on about how glad she is to have her brother back in her life again and how much she has missed him... you get a chance to see that she is a pretty fragile person emotionally... It would have killed her to know the truth... so Charlie wants Uncle Charlie OUT of the picture with as little fuss as possible.

 

So then once Charlie learns the truth about her uncle... and there is no more "doubt" for her... the story switches a little as HE becomes the one who then begins to "doubt" instead... and that is the interesting twist in this for me.

 

Today for the first time... I noticed a really interesting shot.... when he thinks he is free (after they learn about the guy w/ the propeller) and he tells her is going to stay afterall... he fairly skips into the house... and starts up the stairs... and then... DOUBT starts to be an issue for him. He doubts her faithfulness to her promise to him not to turn him in or tell... he doubts that he can keep her in line and starts plotting little accidents for her... And the way this all becomes apparant for the viewer is the shot of her in the doorway at the bottom of the stairs... and him on the staircase. As he turns around and looks at her, it is almost like you can hear him thinking... "I'm free, I'm free... oh wait... what about...???" And she has become a "shadowy figure of doubt" for him now.

 

Anyway.. I freely admit... if you think too hard about some of the "harder to buy" aspects of this story... it might not be as good a tale as if you just "go with it" sometimes and watch it for what IS good about it... and that for me is the characters and how they interact and come to terms with the "doubt" and what it does to the story as the thoughts they are facing in their mind become reality for them.

 

And PS.... I do agree that the two detectives' characters needed work... they were just about the hardest to believe out of all the characters in the story... but there are a lot of fun and interesting quirks and personalities in a lot of the other side characters (the dad and the neighbor) the little sister and brother.. even some of Charlie's classmates (including the girl who worked in the bar)

 

My favorite was "Herbert" (PERFECTLY played by Cronyn by the way) "He always comes when we are eating!" :-) I love how he and the dad sit around plotting how to kill each other.... all the whole time a vicious cold blooded monster is five feet away... right under their noses. Very fun "twist".

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> {quote:title=FrankGrimes wrote:}{quote}

> Hola, Back Alley B -- Frank! Yes, I know, long time no see (or, hardly ever) on

> this thread.

>

> You've got a little bit of a history in this world, Zeena.

>

> I just discovered your film noir resource link. It is FANTASTIC!!!!

>

> I'm glad you liked it. That list has really helped me find my way in the darkness.

>

And you need all the help you can get.

 

Did anyone mention those creepy night shots of the town library in SHADOW OF A DOUBT, when Theresa rushes there to read up on the Merry Widow murder? I love how Hitch films this -- the libary is a cherished part of any community -- it imparts knowledge through information, and we see it in the daytime, such a cozy, benign looking building sitting in the noonday sun, but when Charlie hastens to get in before it closes, the place looks like some eerie, evil fortress, full of ideas we DON'T want to know about.

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