Friday, August 12, 2011

Shadow of a Doubt, on location

[“Actors Joseph Cotten, Teresa Wright, and Henry Travers rehearsing a scene on location while director Alfred Hitchcock (seated) looks on.” Photograph by J. R. Eyerman. Santa Rosa, California, 1943. From the Life Photo Archive.]

Shadow of a Doubt (1943) is one of my favorite films. I first watched it on my dad’s recommendation. (Thanks, Dad.) The film has long seemed to me Nabokovian: Charles Oakley (Joseph Cotten), the stranger in a placid American town, reminds me of both Humbert Humbert (Lolita) and Charles Kinbote (Pale Fire). Uncle Charlie’s relationship with his niece Charlie Newton (Teresa Wright) is hardly the stuff of Lolita (not even close), but it’s deeply disturbing on its own terms. (You’ll just have to watch the film.)

Shadow of a Doubt is widely reported to be Hitchcock’s favorite among his films. But when François Truffaut raised the question, Hitchcock demurred:
I wouldn’t say that Shadow of a Doubt is my favorite picture; if I’ve given that impression, it’s probably because I feel that here is something that our friends, the plausibles and logicians, cannot complain about.

François Truffaut, Hitchcock (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1985).
Don’t miss the full-size view of the photograph (still, alas, a little blurred).

Related reading
Shadow of Doubt film locations (Worldwide Guide to Film Locations)

comments: 2

normann said...

Wow! Shadow of a Doubt is my absolute favorite Hitchcock film. Joseph Cotten got to play the heavy, for once, did a good job of it, and Theresa Wright as Charlie is spot on. Apparently, the control freak AH disliked location shooting, but had fallen in love with Santa Rosa, a kind of New England-style town in Sonoma County.

We have it on DVD, which includes a documentary. Highlight: The last surviving cast member, Hume Cronyn, talking about how he had auditioned for the role. I loved the subplot with him and Henry Travers as they planned grisly murders ("Where are your clues?"). Now I'll have to watch it again, especially since we just splashed out for an LED flatscreen TV.

Michael Leddy said...

Yes, those interviews are great.

I watched with my parents last night (in New Jersey), after leaving Boston and before driving home. This time around, I esp. appreciated the opening scenes (Uncle Charlie eluding the detectives), and I finally noticed that everyone shouts a bit at Herb, who must be slightly deaf. (Do you think so too?)