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MissGoddess

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How does it go, Rick? -- Pull up a stool, my Brooklyn friend.

 

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).

 

:D I actually saw Shadow of a Doubt before It's a Wonderful Life. I seem to be

always entering through the back door. No pictures, please.

 

I'm big on Cotten and Wright in the film. I'm also very fond of Travers, Hume Cronyn,

and Patricia Collinge.

 

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.

 

I agree with most of that. Macdonald Carey is my least favorite performer in the

film. Wallace Ford didn't bother me. He seemed like a cop to me. Would cops go

undercover as they did? I'd say yes, but it's a bit of a stretch. They do seem to be

imcompetent, but I like that those looking to do bad are the ones who are accomplished

at deception while those looking to do good, are not.

 

So now that I've dogged Carey, I shall "defend" him. What I've come to appreciate

about the Carey casting is that he's not to be dynamic. He's simple and plain. Cotten's

"Uncle Charlie" is slick and fancy. He's worldy. Carey is your average "Jack." Hitchcock

is twisting convention with this.

 

From my limited experience with classic film, I believe most every film of that era would

cast the dynamic male as the attractive good guy while the bad guy would be viewed as the

ugly, unlikeable jerk. The lines are clearly drawn, so the audience doesn't have to do

any examining for themselves. I'm sure there are exceptions, and maybe you and others

could share some with me.

 

Carey's "Jack" comes to represent what "Young Charlie" thought to be boring at the

outset of the film. Jack was no Uncle Charlie. She was right about that.

 

shadowofadoubt59.jpg

 

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.

 

The film is about deception. What we see on the surface isn't always true. Young

Charlie comes to learn this while others remain fooled, including her own family and the

respectable types in the community. This is how an evil force can take over a house

or a town or a country or...

 

Uncle Charlie is a charmer who is nothing but a phony. A wolf in sheep's clothing. To

those who don't know who he is and what he's done, he seems perfectly normal. To

those who know the truth, who see through the false smile and the phony kindness,

he's what he is: a menace. You would be amazed to know just how many people

cannot see a menace when it's right in front of their face. Menace has a face for all

occasions and for all purposes. They attempt to blend in with the good. They are

hiders who look to do harm.

 

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In the following screencap, you will see Uncle Charlie needing a cane to support himself

while he strolls.

 

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Once Uncle Charlie sees that no one is looking, he puts his cane away. If no one

notices the truth, what's the harm, right?

 

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One of the key themes to the film is one's soul.

 

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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?

 

No one has captured Uncle Charlie. Ahhhh, Hitchcock. Also, if you want to stretch it

further, Uncle Charlie is basically playing a version of Count Dracula, so no reflections are

to be allowed.

 

And don't be literary! Yeah, that's me teasing you. To be honest, I never really put much

thought into the "hows and whys" of the cops tracking Uncle Charlie. I see your point.

 

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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).

 

Yeah, I wasn't too big on the demise of suspect #2, either. Geez, I feel like

Herbie. Hmmm...

 

And, you're right. Since both men are running, why not find out why Uncle Charlie is

running, too?

 

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.

 

To me, that is very logical. I view Uncle Charlie as a predator and Young Charlie as his

young prey. The victims of abuse tend to be petrified of their abuser and the threats

they levy at them. Many of these threats are aimed at the victim's family. Those on

the outside of these situations usually say like you, "just get out, speak up." Fear

makes such a simple task extremely difficult.

 

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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),

 

I always took Young Charlie to be 18 or 19. She seemed so very young and fresh-faced

to me. She really reminds me of a fellow board member, ButterscotchGreer.

 

Here are two shots where I really felt Young Charlie's age:

 

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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?

 

I thought Rohanaka's answer to be spot on. I believe Young Charlie was helping her

mother at home. She seemed to have quite a bit of responsibility.

 

Also, I believe Young Charlie was caught in the teenage fog of, "What do I do with my

life? What do I want?" She was bemoaning her mother's existence. She didn't want

what her mother had.

 

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By the end of the film, I believe Young Charlie views life differently.

 

shadowofadoubt70.jpg

 

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? )

 

:D We're in complete agreement here. I thought Jack's falling in love with Young Charlie

to be waaaaaaaaay too easy. I can see him being very attracted to her, but the love angle

was pushing it. It felt weird to me. Why? Because I did take Young Charlie to be

18 years old. He seemed to be in his 30s, although, he was actually 29/30. He was

called "young" in the film, so I believe Hitch was going for him being in his mid-20s. It

just felt forced to me.

 

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.

 

Ohhh, I like the sinister charms of James Mason in North by Northwest, too,

but I prefer Uncle Charlie's pure evil. Mason was a traiterous spy whereas Uncle

Charlie is family. Uncle Charlie is sleeping in your house, your room, your bed! And

I felt Claude Rains' "Sebastian" in Notorious to be toothless. He was a mama's

boy who had to answer to others. He doesn't frighten me. He upsets me more than

anything, because I feel like Devlin (Cary Grant), he's sleeping with the woman

I love. That's a killer.

 

Not everyone is observant as some. Many people tend to go about their own

business, not caring what others are up to, never noticing the truth. They are not

in tune with the goings on in their own house. This is one of the statements

Hitchcock was making in Shadow of a Doubt. Comfort leads to complacency

which leads to carelessness. Those who look to do harm via their deceptions can

take full advantage of such a situation. It's up to those who are aware of these

deceptions, who do care about the family, to awaken the sleepwalkers in

"Santa Rosa."

 

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Hey, Bronxie and Quiet Gal -- I'll reply to your posts tomorr... later tonight. Ohh, my.

 

I loved what you each wrote.

 

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> That's an awesome photo, moviefan! I don't know if it's from a movie or just a publicity shot, but she looks stunning.

 

Thank you, I just googled it. But from the way she posed, I am sure it has to be a publicity shot, and not necessarily a still linked to any particular motion picture.

 

Here is another one:

08AnnSheridan.jpg

 

Now, where is that Ann Sheridan thread somebody was supposed to start?

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Forgive me for jumping in here.... I am not in any way noirish....but I am learning. :) There are things about the movie *Shadow of a Doubt* that I really want to mention.

 

I think the thing I love best about the movie is Thornton Wilder's take on small town life - and his view of growing up. I say this without any specific knowledge of Wilder's conception, just a feeling I have that he was responsible for some of the deeper darker psychological aspects of growing up in a small town.

 

The secret to the film's success for me is that it takes a normal occurance - a child becoming an adult, breaking away from her parent's or town's habits and ways, and turns it into something creepy. Actually it IS creepy.... :)

 

First, Rick, you said didn't believe Wright was that young. I believe she was a teen, and I believe that the love story was pasted onto the script to point up certain aspects of Charlie's growth, and here's why:

 

Ro said that Charlie went from hero worshipping her Uncle to hating the ground he walked on..... how many times have we heard this story in real life? This is something that teens do all the time! They are at the mercy of their newly adult hormones.... they need to make a break from a childlike worship of family. They are tied to a parent's apron strings and they simply don't know how to get free. They get mad, or find an excuse to "hate" the person "holding them back". They pick fights and stay out too late....It is the most normal thing in the world. But here, it is twisted and wrenched into something scarier.... Charlie does all these things during the course of the movie - she lies, she stays out late, she yells, she hates, and she doubts. She even goes to a bar.....This is what growing up is about - DOUBT.

 

You DOUBT that your parents actually know what is going on around them, you DOUBT their decisions are the right ones, you DOUBT that they are the gods you made them into in childhood. At first, she turns to Uncle Charlie to make that break with her family. But as she grows to know him ( and I believe you are right, the family doesn't really know him), she begins to doubt that her newfound adult friend is sane. It's dangerous out there. Even the things you knew well, i.e. the library, seem foreign and scary with your new-found knowledge that there is no one to protect you, but you. And, in the end, Young Charlie HAS to grow up, she HAS to make that break with her family, make her own decisions, and she has to get through the DOUBT or Uncle Charlie will eventually kill them all (metaphorically). She must become an adult, and it hurts. A child must break from the family at some point, or that child will never become a responsible adult, and thus be unable to continue the family line appropriately. That is what life is all about. She comes to realize that growing up is more than stepping AWAY from family. It is stepping away, then coming back to those few values you really believe in. The values you thought were dead.

 

The movie is a metaphor for the normal growth from childhood to adulthood.

 

This is why they brought in the love story that hits us so wrong.....Young Charlie must be seen making that transition from innocence to adult knowledge. What better way than to give her a love interest? At the end of the movie she is now "outside" her family, or adult.

 

It also is convenient for the storytellers in another way. The love interest happens to be her only confidant. The only way we can see that she is becoming "outside" or grown up is if she tells us via that confidant. The confidant could not be one of her old friends, because then Charlie would not be outside her little sphere in the end. She could not make a clean break....And so they invented the Carey role in order to show us Young Charlie's thoughts, feelings and reactions to her "coming of age". He is outside too....It is also comforting for us to know that Charlie will always have someone who also knows the truth about Uncle Charlie.

 

This is all probably pretty obvious stuff, but I wanted to get in there and talk about possible reasons for bringing in the Carey character. Thanks for letting me chat a bit about something that I will certainly be going through with my own daughter.....And am I SCARED! :)

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FrankGrimes wrote: It's up to those who are aware of these

deceptions, who do care about the family, to awaken the sleepwalkers in

"Santa Rosa."

 

Ha! What about when the "sleepwalkers" choose not to believe you, but would rather roll over and

go back to sleep? "Uncle Charlie" counts on that behavior trait in human nature quite a bit.

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Howdy do Uncle Char... I mean Mr. Grey...

 

actually saw Shadow of a Doubt before It's a Wonderful Life.

 

Now why doesn't that surprise me one bit?? :P

 

I enjoyed all your screencaps... you always find just the right moments to make your points... nicely done.

 

I believe most every film of that era would cast the dynamic male as the attractive good guy while the bad guy would be viewed as the ugly, unlikeable jerk.

 

I agree maybe MOST were like that... but not all of those old black and white films were so "black and white" about their bad guys... Ha. (two examples... Night of the Hunter...pretty OBVIOUS bad guy... Night Must Fall... NOT so obvious and terribly good looking bad guy... at least for the first 1/3 or the movie or so... (the REST of the movie he IS pretty obvious though) there are several movies where you don't really know if the monster is a monster until he (or she) is revealed somehow... but you are right... this one... you know more or less from the start.. so whatever thinking that you are called upon to do as a viewer doesn't involve trying to decide at least THAT part of it...

 

The film is about deception. What we see on the surface isn't always true. Young

Charlie comes to learn this while others remain fooled, including her own family and the

respectable types in the community. This is how an evil force can take over a house

or a town or a country or...

 

I like how you put that all together... and I about like what you said later on about complacency being a part of the problem that leads to his success too. I think the Uncle Charlie is like "Danny Boy" in NMF... (YOU REALLY NEED TO SEE THAT MOVIE BY THE WAY) They are both "Watchers" and they look for EVERY opportunity to weasel their way into a victim's life.

 

They look for human failings and capitalize on them to their own advantage... For some victims it is because they are just too nice or too ignorant..and they are easily fooled because they only think the best of everyone. For other victims ... they are too arrogant or too self absorbed to think anyone would see them as "weak" enough to be preyed upon... which makes them possibly the most deserving target, yet still a target none the less. Other victims are poor and pathetic and easy pickings... and you likely feel the most sorry for that sort of victim... but it is all too easy to see how they can be used and tossed aside. There are a lot of different scenarios for how a monster chooses his target... but it all boils down to the fact that a good "watcher" takes advantage wherever he can find it... and like Danny, Uncle Charlie is no exception. And also like Danny a part of the package is that he sees them ALL as deserving what he gives them... they are all justified kills in his mind. (even the ones that aren't neccessarily "killed" in a literal sense but only are only a figurative "kill" by being used.... (That might not make sense... I guess I am saying... For Uncle Charlie.. EVERYBODY is a victim... whether he kills them literally or just kills their "innocence" by abusing their trust... he has targeted them all as his victim... and some of the ones that he leaves alive have no idea they've even been targeted... he is that good at being bad...)

 

I view Uncle Charlie as a predator and Young Charlie as his

young prey. The victims of abuse tend to be petrified of their abuser and the threats

they levy at them. Many of these threats are aimed at the victim's family. Those on

the outside of these situations usually say like you, "just get out, speak up." Fear

makes such a simple task extremely difficult.

 

Now see.. I don't see her like that as much as you do... I do agree she was his "prey"... and I even agree she was afraid... but I don't think she was "too afraid to act". I think she WAS fighting him... but just not on as equal a footing... she WAS a kid.. or at least a very young adult. And (I hate saying this) she WAS a woman and he was a very strong and threatening man. But I think if it had just been about HER and HIM... she'd have stood up to him and blown the whistle on him in a heartbeat... it was all about her FAMILY.

 

As it is... she DID stand up to him several times.. She tells him to get out and get out soon. And she finds several different ways to let him know she is watching HIM now too. And even when she is laying on the ground half dead from carbon monoxide... the first thing she says when she sees his face (and you can HEAR the hate and fight in her voice) is "LEAVE!" And then later... when she goes into that bedroom and finds the ring and puts it back on as she is walking down the staircase... she KNOWS she has him right where she wants him.. and he backs down immediately... She was a victim... but she wasn't too afraid to stand up to him..

 

I thought Jack's falling in love with Young Charlie

to be waaaaaaaaay too easy. I can see him being very attracted to her, but the love angle

was pushing it. It felt weird to me. Why? Because I did take Young Charlie to be

18 years old. He seemed to be in his 30s, although, he was actually 29/30. He was

called "young" in the film, so I believe Hitch was going for him being in his mid-20s. It

just felt forced to me.

 

Oh you MEN!! :P I think that her age was likely supposed to be close to what you said.. 18 or 19.... but 18 or 19 back THEN is a lot different than it is now... and many young women then had a much different mindset (as did families in general) about age and what was acceptable... I think Carey's character was played to be mid to late 20's... but I think Charlie's was played to be a VERY mature and grown up 19. And if you compare her to her classmates (two goofy and giddy girls and one poor "dim" cocktail waitress) she was old enough and mature enough to handle such a relationship with someone who in a few more years would NOT have seemed so much older than her as time went by. It was a different era... and I don't think audiences back when this story came out would have given both her "staying home after graduation" or her "age difference" with Carey a second thought. Viewed from TODAY's standards...I see how you and Rick have a point and I can see how it seems "a stretch"... but back then, BOTH those things were very common... especially in smaller cities and towns like the one in the story.

 

PS... BARB... Wow... great insight about the library... sometimes... knowledge IS a VERY scary and menacing thing...

 

PSS... Jackie... I liked your thoughts on the "growing up and coming of age" angle... and from a parent's perspective... color ME scared too! :-)

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Ro- You actually said what I forgot to say: that back in the 40's, many girls WOULD have stayed home, learning from their mother how to be a homemaker until the right man came along. College was not an option for most, and being a shopgirl might bring in some money, but I'm not sure it was common at that time in small towns. I think maybe we put too much modern spin on the movie because Theresa Wright is such a smart cookie.... she doesn't really seem the happy homemaker type in many ways.....

 

She is also conflicted at this time in her life, like many eighteen or nineteen year olds, and perhaps every one is just politely waiting for her to make up her mind what she wants to be..... Her family certainly isn't very proactive in getting what they want, and if that is for Young Charlie to leave then they would probably not say anything to her anyway.

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You know what else was very frightening? The first shot of the train pulling into the Santa Rosa Station, looming very large and spewing black clouds of enveloping smoke. I'll get pretentiously symbolic now -- could it represent the more insidious side of "civilization", "progress" at the expense of our collective loss of innocence? I notice in all of Hitchcock films, he uses the train as a harbinger or representative of the evil that men are capable of.

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You know what else was very frightening? The first shot of the train pulling into

the Santa Rosa Station, looming very large and spewing black clouds of enveloping

smoke. I'll get pretentiously symbolic now -- could it represent the more insidious

side of "civilization", "progress" at the expense of our collective loss of

innocence? I notice in all of Hitchcock films, he uses the train as a harbinger or

representative of the evil that men are capable of.

 

You're talking to the most pretentious person around. How's that for pretentious?

 

Very nice catch, B. When I took screencaps for the film, I took two of what you

speak. I took it as evil arriving in town. You've got the thick, black smoke that you

mention and the dark shadow envelops Roger (Charles Bates).

 

shadowofadoubt22.jpg

 

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I like that Hitch uses little Roger to represent the innocence, as you so aptly described.

 

You really are a visual movie watcher, Miss Expressionism. You're always catching so

many different things.

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Took me a bit longer than I had hoped, but I finally managed to revisit "Shadow of a Doubt" and enjoyed it just as much as I remembered. I actually had forgotten I have the DVD from Universal, which happens to have a very nice documentary called "Beyond Doubt: The Making of Hitchcock's Favorite Film". I haven't watched all of the documentary yet, but there is a great soundbite where Peter Bogdanovich explains why he considers this one to be the first truly American movie made by Hitchcock, in the sense that it takes place in a setting that is palpably all-American (Santa Rosa), as opposed to other movies he'd made in America earlier which, he says, didn't really feel like they were taking place in a distinctly American milieu. It is also interesting in that it may (for all I remember) mark the beginning of Hitchcock's fascination with Bay Area settings, which would later on include the very memorable locations of "Vertigo" and "The Birds".

 

I apologize because I've not yet had a chance to revisit all of the comments that had previously been posted here, and which I had hoped to read more closely after a fresh viewing. However on the suggestion that trains always represented a harbinger of evil in Hitchcock's films, I wonder whether that was the intended suggestion in the way Hitchcock used the train at the end of "North by Northwest". It certainly does seem to suggest something that isn't always necessarily evil. But that's just my interpretation.

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_Bronxgirl_ observed: *You know what else was very frightening? The first shot of the train pulling into the Santa Rosa Station, looming very large and spewing black clouds of enveloping smoke. I'll get pretentiously symbolic now -- could it represent the more insidious side of "civilization", "progress" at the expense of our collective loss of innocence? I notice in all of Hitchcock films, he uses the train as a harbinger or representative of the evil that men are capable of.*

 

Hitchcock and others, consciously or subconsciously, often use (or are interpreted to use) trains as phallic symbols -- power, violation of innocence. Now, Herr Doktor, about that "train as a harbinger or representative of the evil that men are capable of"....

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ChiO, I guess you said it better than I ever could have. Maybe I just didn't want to use the p-word, but I guess we're all adults here, hee hee.

 

Anyway, it wasn't just the fact that it was a phallic symbol, but one that brought darkness with it. In the DVD documentary, Theresa Wright comments on it as well:

 

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She is also conflicted at this time in her life, like many eighteen or nineteen year olds, and perhaps every one is just politely waiting for her to make up her mind what she wants to be....

 

It's a restless age to be sure... and I think she does sort of show that at least at the beginning...

 

(ps.. I am still wondering what I am going to be when I grow up... if ever I do, that is!! Ha.)

 

PS.. Barb... ANOTHER nice catch w/ the train... the Grey Guy is right. Your have a watchful eye.

 

PSS... Mr. Grey... when I made my comparisons between Uncle Charlie and Danny Boy, I should have pointed out that they have VERY different styles... Danny is more or "fawner" and a "pleaser" but he is a bit of a showman too... and Uncle Charlie is ALL for show... he comes off bigger than life and seeks to overwhelm and impress in order to sway those he wants to victimize... different methods... still the same sort or result.

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Hello there, everyone (FrankGrimes, Rohanka, JackFavell, and anyone else who has chimed in about Shadow of a Doubt)

 

I feel a little like Cody Jarrett at the oil refinery at the end of White Heat: besieged on all sides and screaming ?Come and get me.? And you all did. But that?s OK, it was all done with respect and very interesting analyses of why you all like Shadow of a Doubt so much. Rather than respond to all of your posts individually and take up an enormous amount of space (and probably boring those posters who are not at all interested in this topic), I will try to address many of your salient points below in one post, hopefully covering some of our differences and then seeing where we stand.

 

(1) Frank and many others all seem to agree that young Charlie was supposed to be no older than 18 or 19, and while this probably should not be a big point, I still respectfully disagree. While we can?t prove it one way or another, I think another piece of evidence is the scene when she and Uncle Charlie go into the rather seedy bar downtown and they meet the waitress there who knew Charlie from high school. Didn?t she say they were classmates? Well, if they were, then that waitress had to be at least 21 because the legal drinking age in California is 21 and you can?t work in a bar if you?re underage. Again maybe nitpicking, but I?ll just say I guess since I felt she was more of an adult than a teenager, I had a harder time accepting some of her decisions, (especially her willingness to let her uncle leave Santa Rosa and escape to kill more widows rather than turn him in) because I felt a 21 or 22 year-old would know the right course to take: turn him in, relative or not. But obviously I?m in the minority here, so be it.

 

To all of you who feel this film is a good depiction of the evil that can lurk in small towns, right under the noses of its citizens, I don?t disagree. In fact, I?m not holding this movie to any Hitchcockian criteria; in other words, I know I?ve said it lacked the classic suspense we?ve come to expect from Hitch, and while it did, I was still prepared to like it on its own terms, the ones many of you articulate. While I can see your points, I guess for me the film has several shortcomings that prevent me from appreciating it the way the rest of you do. I realize that perhaps I?m expecting too much, wanting holes to be ?plugged? and a back-story to be provided when in reality that?s not really what Hitch was going for. For example, it bothers me that we never really know how often the family has seen Uncle Charlie over the years; his sister?s view of him seems totally based on their childhood. His brother-in-law doesn?t seem overly fond of him, his only reaction to the news that Charlie is coming is that he knows young Charlie and his wife will be ?thrilled? the guy is going to visit. In fact, after Charlie?s speech at the bank, and making the father embarrassed, old man Newton seems somewhat indifferent to Uncle Charlie. He spends the rest of the movie playing Sherlock Holmes to Hume Cronyn?s Hercule Poirot, to what effect I?m not sure. Those two were two of the oddest peripheral characters in a Hitchcock movie I can remember.

 

Another point several of you have made is what a ?charmer? Charlie is and how the family is beguiled by and enamored of him. Well, again I must have missed some evidence of this, because for me the guy hadn?t been in town very long when he was already twisting young Charlie?s arm and hurting her quite a bit, embarrassing his brother-in-law at his place of business, and then totally wigging out when he thinks some magazine photographer has taken his picture. (By the way, when someone Charlie?s age proudly pronounces that he?s ?never had his picture taken,? don?t you think the members of his family might think that was strange? In fact, if he?s visited them in the past, you mean he never consented to have his picture taken with them as a remembrance? And wouldn?t they think that was strange? I guess what I?m saying here is that all this affection and love for good old Uncle Charlie, which we?ve been told has existed for years, is based on exactly what? Unless this guy became a serial killer overnight, I think he?s exhibited sociopathic tendencies for a long time, which begs the question: has this family always been blind to it because he?s been ?charming? in the past? If so, then his behavior towards them has changed pretty dramatically this time around, which, if he?s trying to hide out, that wouldn?t make too much sense would it? Well, I guess I?m just looking too hard and deep for logic when others see much else to enjoy about this film.

 

I believe JackeFavell said he thought the movie was a metaphor for growth, from childhood to adulthood. But see, I think Teresa Wright?s character was already an adult, and frankly if she?s still becoming one, in this family, she might be better off staying a child. Because the rest of the adults in this family are really obtuse, starting with the mother; in fact, the only person who instinctively seems to be on to Charlie is the younger niece, who begins to recoil from him. In some ways, I wish Hitchcock had focused the story on _her_ efforts to get the disbelieving family to acknowledge that there is something seriously wrong with old Uncle Charlie. Now _that_ could have been a real suspenseful Hitchcockian story, but I?ll admit, variations of that theme have been done before.

 

Anyway, I apologize if this post has been far too lengthy. I appreciate all the comments from the rest of you and I?m glad so many of you find some real enjoyment here. I?m not sure how much of this film was actually shot in Santa Rosa (I know there was a lot of rear-screen projection use, and perhaps Hitchcock didn?t film any of it there) but since I live within a relatively short driving distance of Santa Rosa, the next time I?m up there I?ll keep my eyes open to see if there are any Charlie Oakley?s lurking around who have ?charmed? the local populace but may appear, at least to this ex-Broolynite, capable of committing some real mayhem. I seriously Doubt I'd be fooled, although at my age I don't see nearly as well as I used to!

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Folks,

 

The last part of the last sentence from my post should have read as follows:

 

I?ll keep my eyes open to see if there are any Charlie Oakley?s lurking around who have ?charmed? the local populace but may appear, at least to this _ex-Brooklynite_, of committing some real mayhem, although I admit at my age I don?t see as well as I used to.

 

(Evidently, I wrote so much I couldn't even see straight anymore, even though I thought I'd proofread it enough times!)

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Hello Rick.. I say again.. don't hold back now.. tell us how you really feel about this movie... HA! (I kid) :-)

 

Obviously we are not all going to like the same things... I am sure there are a lot of films you might like that I don't and there are probably even more that I would like that you won't.. that's what makes the world go around...

 

A couple of things... first... I agree with you that Uncle Charlie is no charmer (at least in the general sense of the word... I hope I never gave the opposite impression) I made a brief comment a little earlier to Frank that he is more of an "impresser" I guess... He throws money around and virtually exudes self confidence... He more or less forces people to look up to him by presenting himself as being above them all....

 

And also... I would say that with regard to your questions about his family and how long it had been... I think it had been a number of years... but not so long that young Charlie could not remember him... Her memories of him were as a little girl... and that is why he was so "larger than life" to her at first... but she also noticed things about him right away.. and seemed to realize that her memory did not live up to the reality she was seeing for herself.

 

And with regard to his childhood, there is a brief nod to what he must have been like as a kid when his sister talks about how after his horrible accident and brain injury their mother was worried he would never be the same on the outside or the inside... so he must have shown some differences following his recovery. I think his sister LONGED to remember him for the way he was... and perhaps had a bit of a desire to idolize him because she loved him so much and because she was emotionally fragile and missed her childhood days.

 

At any rate... you are right... It would seem strange that someone could go so long without a photograph... but again.. you have to look at it from a 1940's perspective and there were not as many people carrying some sort of photographic device with them everywhere they go like we all seem to do nowdays... back then... It was not likely that every family even had a simple camera... let alone multiple ones, camera phones, etc etc like we all do now.

 

Which also brings me to... the legal drinking age in California at that time. Was there one? And were there also laws about the age of workers serving such beverages??? I have no idea. But again.. I think this is one of those movies that in order to enjoy it, part of the package includes just taking it as it is and not trying to justify every point. There are some "stretches" in the story line... but for me, the characters more than make up for it.

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>

Re: trains as harbingers or representative of evil.

 

 

Men -- can't live with them, can't live without them.....(see WORLD WITHOUT END, lol)

 

Message was edited by: Bronxgirl48

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Oh, Rick! I hope we didn't really gang up on you! I actually agree with most of your points.... I just like the movie so much I suspend my disbelief while watching it. Your point about Young Charlie letting him go on to murder new victims hit me the last time I watched it as well. But then again, if the murderer were in my own family? I don't know what I would do.

 

Not to belabor the point too much, but I do think that the family sees Uncle Charlie as an eccentric. He seems off or overly sensitive, but I think they chalk it up to his illness, or the fact that he has lived in the big city too long. You know those big city types...He has become too high class for them, and I get the impression they think that all big city folks are kind of half-mad. Frankly, the whole family has a sort of off kilter feel to it. They each have their little foibles. And again, they are to polite to make a big deal out of Uncle Charlie's. .

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Just looking at your great train screencaps, Frank, gives me the willies.

 

No pun intended.

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Hey there, Jackie! -- Forgive me for jumping in here.

 

Hey! Quit jumping on the furniture!

 

I am not in any way noirish....but I am learning.

 

Ahhh, a femme fatale in training. Contact Miss G. :P

 

The secret to the film's success for me is that it takes a normal occurance - a child

becoming an adult, breaking away from her parent's or town's habits and ways, and

turns it into something creepy. Actually it IS creepy.

 

Hmmm... I never thought of this. Please continue...

 

First, Rick, you said didn't believe Wright was that young. I believe she was a

teen, and I believe that the love story was pasted onto the script to point up certain

aspects of Charlie's growth, and here's why:

 

Ro said that Charlie went from hero worshipping her Uncle to hating the ground he

walked on..... how many times have we heard this story in real life? This is

something that teens do all the time! They are at the mercy of their newly adult

hormones.... they need to make a break from a childlike worship of family. They

are tied to a parent's apron strings and they simply don't know how to get free. They

get mad, or find an excuse to "hate" the person "holding them back". They pick

fights and stay out too late....It is the most normal thing in the world. But here, it

is twisted and wrenched into something scarier.... Charlie does all these things

during the course of the movie - she lies, she stays out late, she yells, she hates,

and she doubts. She even goes to a bar.....This is what growing up is about - DOUBT.

 

You know, I think you have something here. Something I never thought about. This is

all fascinating to me.

 

You DOUBT that your parents actually know what is going on around them, you

DOUBT their decisions are the right ones, you DOUBT that they are the gods you

made them into in childhood. At first, she turns to Uncle Charlie to make that break

with her family. But as she grows to know him ( and I believe you are right, the family

doesn't really know him), she begins to doubt that her newfound adult friend is

sane. It's dangerous out there. Even the things you knew well, i.e. the library, seem

foreign and scary with your new-found knowledge that there is no one to protect

you, but you. And, in the end, Young Charlie HAS to grow up, she HAS to make

that break with her family, make her own decisions, and she has to get through the

DOUBT or Uncle Charlie will eventually kill them all (metaphorically). She must

become an adult, and it hurts. A child must break from the family at some point, or

that child will never become a responsible adult, and thus be unable to continue the

family line appropriately. That is what life is all about. She comes to realize that

growing up is more than stepping AWAY from family. It is stepping away, then

coming back to those few values you really believe in. The values you thought were

dead.

 

Now that was terrific. I never saw this angle and I believe you are very right. Young

Charlie has graduated childhood and she's now ready for the exciting but also

scary proposition of becoming an adult. At the outset of the film, Young Charlie

dismisses the life of her mother and she considers Uncle Charlie to be what life ought

to be like. Young Charlie thinks she knows what happiness is. She lacks doubt.

 

Who in their right mind would want "old hat"?

 

shadowofadoubt86.jpg

 

shadowofadoubt87.jpg

 

Young Charlie believes old hats should be thrown out and replaced with "exactly right"

furs.

 

shadowofadoubt90.jpg

 

shadowofadoubt88.jpg

 

As the story unfolds, Young Charlie starts to see the real Uncle Charlie, not her

idealized view of him. She's no longer looking at him (and life) through a child's eyes, but

an adult's eyes.

 

Jack is the man who first places doubt in Young Charlie's mind about her Uncle

Charlie. Jack and Uncle Charlie are two different kinds of man. Which man will

Young Charlie trust?

 

Young Charlie decides to figure things out on her own, without the help of her

parents. She's to make her own decisions. So she does like so many girls

do, she sneaks out of the house. She's not to meet a man, but to search for the

truth about a man.

 

Young Charlie feels bad about what she's about to do.

 

shadowofadoubt91.jpg

 

Once confronted with the horrific truth, she feels betrayed and alone. What she

thought was golden and true was fool's gold. She was wrong. Jack was right.

 

Young Charlie's demeanor changes after she learns the truth. She's lost some

of her innocence. Sadly, this is part of "growing up."

 

I would have never seen this without your mentioning it.

 

It also is convenient for the storytellers in another way. The love interest happens to

be her only confidant. The only way we can see that she is becoming "outside" or

grown up is if she tells us via that confidant. The confidant could not be one of her

old friends, because then Charlie would not be outside her little sphere in the

end. She could not make a clean break....And so they invented the Carey role in

order to show us Young Charlie's thoughts, feelings and reactions to her

"coming of age". He is outside too....It is also comforting for us to know that Charlie

will always have someone who also knows the truth about Uncle Charlie.

 

That is so very well said.

 

Young Charlie has new doubts...

 

shadowofadoubt92.jpg

 

... but the moment Jack leaves her, she calls out for him. Her true feelings are coming

to the surface. Her doubt is starting to disappear.

 

shadowofadoubt62.jpg

 

shadowofadoubt93.jpg

 

shadowofadoubt94.jpg

 

This is all probably pretty obvious stuff, but I wanted to get in there and talk about

possible reasons for bringing in the Carey character. Thanks for letting me chat a bit

about something that I will certainly be going through with my own daughter.....And

am I SCARED!

 

:D I'm more worried for your daughter and her male friends! :P

 

None of what you wrote ever occurred to me. It was anything but obvious to this

clueless pot of fool's gold. I thank you for pointing this out to me and others. You also

cleared something else up for me. It had to do with Ann and her mother.

 

shadowofadoubt98.jpg

 

shadowofadoubt99.jpg

 

shadowofadoubt95.jpg

 

I was wondering why Mrs. Newton kept telling Ann not to have a flower in her hair, not to

put anything behind her ear because she might "get something in her ear." I now believe

this has to do with what you were speaking of. Mrs. Newton is worrying about Ann

growing up too fast.

 

shadowofadoubt100.jpg

 

No, Ann is no longer a baby and she will soon become a young woman. To her

credit, she doesn't fall for the phony show of frauds like Uncle Charlie. She's more mature

than Young Charlie.

 

shadowofadoubt101.jpg

 

So does Ann listen to her mother? Here's your answer:

 

shadowofadoubt96.jpg

 

Girls will be... women. I just hope they don't become snippy. :P

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Frank- that was beautiful.... you put into words very succinctly what I was stumbling around and around trying to say....

 

and I LOVED those Ann screencaps! Perfect, perfect. Is the "something will get into your ear" also an oblique reference to finding out information you shouldn't? Listening to adult talk will put ideas into her head that should not be there? Just a thought. And you are right. Ann has no doubt. She IS more mature than Young Charlie, and notice that Uncle Charlie stays away from her for most of the movie. She has no weakness. No hormones or foolish love to get in the way of her deductive reasoning. She is too sensible, and would never be taken in by his flirty, and in some ways childish behavior. He is a child as well - he has never grown past that illness....or the unfounded hatreds of childhood....

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How do, Jackie? -- Is the "something will get into your ear" also an oblique

reference to finding out information you shouldn't? Listening to adult talk will put

ideas into her head that should not be there? Just a thought.

 

Ohhh, you are right AGAIN. That's what it means. Ann is such a curious young lass.

 

And you are right. Ann has no doubt. She IS more mature than Young Charlie, and

notice that Uncle Charlie stays away from her for most of the movie. She has no

weakness. No hormones or foolish love to get in the way of her deductive

reasoning. She is too sensible, and would never be taken in by his flirty, and in

some ways childish behavior.

 

Nicely said! Interestingly, Ann eventually requests to not sit by Uncle Charlie at the

dinner table, after having done so since his arrival. Her senses really kicked in.

 

shadowofadoubt47.jpg

 

And here's Ann's initial reaction to Uncle Charlie:

 

shadowofadoubt102.jpg

 

She views Uncle Charlie differently because she has matured some. Her senses are

telling her something about him. She's not blind to Uncle Charlie like her sister and her

mother are. Different natures?

 

He is a child as well - he has never grown past that illness....or the unfounded

hatreds of childhood.

 

That's a brilliant point! Again, this is something I never even thought of. I do believe

Uncle Charlie never outgrew his childhood bitterness. His childhood was taken from

him. He lost his innocence much too early.

 

shadowofadoubt103.jpg

 

shadowofadoubt104.jpg

 

shadowofadoubt105.jpg

 

shadowofadoubt106.jpg

 

shadowofadoubt107.jpg

 

shadowofadoubt108.jpg

 

So Uncle Charlie was just like Ann before the accident. It also explains Mrs. Newton's

always giving her baby brother a "free pass." He's always been "mischievous" since the

accident. "Oh, that's just Charles, blowing off some steam. You know how he is." I also like

how she mentioned her own mother worrying about her son, if he'd ever be the same.

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Those are some very good points regarding Uncle Charlie's formative years. I'd like to watch that part of the movie again.

 

Now, if nobody here minds, there is an earlier thread about "Shadow of a Doubt" that I found last night and was going to post to, because the people who posted there also made some good points that I found interesting. Or you can just follow this link:

 

http://forums.tcm.com/jive/tcm/thread.jspa?threadID=73143&tstart=255

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

> Oh, Rick! I hope we didn't really gang up on you! I actually agree with most of your points.... I just like the movie so much I suspend my disbelief while watching it. Your point about Young Charlie letting him go on to murder new victims hit me the last time I watched it as well. But then again, if the murderer were in my own family? I don't know what I would do.

>

> Not to belabor the point too much, but I do think that the family sees Uncle Charlie as an eccentric. He seems off or overly sensitive, but I think they chalk it up to his illness, or the fact that he has lived in the big city too long. You know those big city types...He has become too high class for them, and I get the impression they think that all big city folks are kind of half-mad. Frankly, the whole family has a sort of off kilter feel to it. They each have their little foibles. And again, they are to polite to make a big deal out of Uncle Charlie's. .

 

 

To Jack, FrankG, Rohanka, et. al.

 

I debated whether or not I should even post again on this film since I've already made myself clear about my "problems" with it. However, I just wanted to say that your last few posts have made me realize a few things. Someone mentioned that Charlie seemed to be more of an "impresser" than a charmer, and Jack says that the family probably viewed him as "eccentric," as a way of explaining his odd behavior and less-than-charming type statements. He's traveled widely, has lived in big cities, and therefore they're both "impressed" by him and willing to overlook his "eccentric" behavior and comments, especially since he's family. Seeing it in that light, I think that's a more reasonable explanation of how the family has accepted him over the years, although I'm not prepared to accept young Charlie's decision not to turn him in after she's convinced he's the killer they're looking for.

 

Finally, I think all of you who are so very fond and intrigued by this film have found a lot of good things to like about it. And I've done something here that I myself in the past have become angry with friends (and even movie critics) for doing when they rail against movies that I've always loved, but which have obvious flaws and inconsistencies. Instead of accepting Shadow of a Doubt for what it is, and for what Hitchcock intended it to be, I keep trying to make it into something it's _not_ (and which Hitchcock was not interested in). If he _wanted_ it to be more about the pursuit of a serial killer by law enforcement officials, he probably would have made the cops stronger and more tenacious in their investigation. But that element is peripheral to the crux of the story. If Hitchcock had _wanted_ the story to be more about the long-family history of Charlie and his Santa Rosa relatives, then he most likely would have created more of a backstory, perhaps with the history of previous visits, etc. But he didn't want to tell that story. Again, what mattered was what was happening in Santa Rosa during _this_ visit, at this particular time as young Charlie is reaching womanhood (whether she is a late teenager or a very young woman is beside the point as well).

 

I guess it's taken me some time to think about this, and as I read through all your interesting comments, it made me realize that while I still may have the same problems with the film as made, I'm holding it up to criteria and standards that I don't usually apply to my own favorite movies, flawed as they may be. What it comes down to is this: I liked this film well enough to want it to be stronger in the few areas in which I believe it's weak, so then I could appreciate it as much as I do many of Hitchcock's other films. In addition, it was a film I had heard so many good things about for so many years that after it's build-up it left me disappointed (but I'm sure that's happened to many of you as well).

 

That's it for me. I've been meaning to get to my top 25 film noir list for the past few days (since I promised FrankG I would do it.) I can hardly wait to see the "friendly fire" that list will elicit from Frank and the many others on these boards. I'm looking forward to it!

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I have really enjoyed reading your thoughts on this movie, Rick, and hope I'll have more time to respond in more detail in the near future. I'm sure that just because only a handful of people post detailed responses, it doesn't mean that there aren't a lot more movie fans who read this thread.

 

Regarding young Charlie's age, I was just going to say that perhaps chronological age isn't all that important in the scheme of things, as much as maturity. You could have a very mature 17-year-old who is very wise to the ways of the world, and you could also have a 25-year-old young lady who was very immature or very naive and inexperienced and easily taken advantage of. Of course, it makes more sense that young Charlie would be relatively naive since she'd grown up in a small city where nothing much out of the ordinary seemed to happen.

 

The movie also serves as a great counterpoint to all of Hitchcock's "innocent man wrongly accused" movies, since in this particular one, the man who is or has been pursued actually was guilty as suspected. He manages to elude the law enforcement element, but he doesn't escape from universal justice.

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