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Shadow of a Doubt [VHS] (1943)

Teresa Wright , Joseph Cotten , Alfred Hitchcock  |  NR |  VHS Tape
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (236 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Teresa Wright, Joseph Cotten, Macdonald Carey, Henry Travers, Patricia Collinge
  • Directors: Alfred Hitchcock
  • Writers: Alma Reville, Gordon McDonell, Sally Benson, Thornton Wilder
  • Producers: Jack H. Skirball
  • Format: Black & White, Closed-captioned, Original recording reissued, Original recording remastered, NTSC
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Number of tapes: 1
  • Studio: Universal Studios
  • VHS Release Date: August 3, 1999
  • Run Time: 108 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (236 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 0783236352
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #339,357 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews


Alfred Hitchcock considered this 1943 thriller to be his personal favorite among his own films, and although it's not as popular as some of Hitchcock's later work, it's certainly worthy of the master's admiration. Scripted by playwright Thornton Wilder and inspired by the actual case of a 1920's serial killer known as "The Merry Widow Murderer," the movie sets a tone of menace and fear by introducing a psychotic killer into the small-town comforts of Santa Rosa, California. That's where young Charlie (Teresa Wright) lives with her parents and two younger siblings, and where murder is little more than a topic of morbid conversation for their mystery-buff neighbor (Hume Cronyn). Charlie was named after her favorite uncle, who has just arrived for an extended visit, and at first Uncle Charlie (Joseph Cotten) gets along famously with his admiring niece. But the film's chilling prologue has already revealed Uncle Charlie's true identity as the notorious Merry Widow Murderer, and the suspense grows almost unbearable when young Charlie's trust gives way to gradual dread and suspicion. Through narrow escapes and a climactic scene aboard a speeding train, this witty thriller strips away the façade of small-town tranquility to reveal evil where it's least expected. And, of course, it's all done in pure Hitchcockian style. --Jeff Shannon

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
86 of 94 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Having just watched Alfred Hitchcock's Shadow of a Doubt (1943) last night for the first time, I was surprised at how good it was, and why I've never seen it before. I mean, I am a fan of Hitchcock, and I've seen many of his movies, but to have heard so little of this particular film seems puzzling to me, as it's an excellent film, and worthy of a lot more recognition than it seems to have gotten. Either that or I just need to get out of my cookie jar more often...
Anyway, the film, directed by Alfred Hitchcock and written by Thornton Wilder, stars a wonderful cast including Teresa Wright, who appeared with Gary Cooper the previous year in The Pride of the Yankees (1942), Joseph Cotten (Citizen Kane, The Third Man), and Henry Travers (High Sierra, Mrs. Miniver, It's a Wonderful Life). Also making an appearance is Hume Cronyn making his film debut in a supporting role as a mousy neighbor.
The story involves a family in a small California town, and the impending arrival of a relative, Charlie (Cotten), from back east. Most anticipatory is younger Charlie (Wright), named after her uncle, as she feels a deep, almost telepathic connection to this man she hasn't seen in quite awhile. Now, before Charlie's departure for California, we get a general sense of unease, as it seems Charlie is involved in something of a sinister nature. Upon arriving in California, the visit seems to be going well, as the family welcomes him with open arms, but soon we learn that trouble has followed Charlie in the form of two rather shady individuals who present themselves with a certain amount of deception, which is elaborated on later. The older Charlie's behavior begins to change subtly, perceptible only to the younger Charlie and us, the audience.
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44 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of Hitchcock's Greatest Films September 25, 2004
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Shadow of a Doubt is my favorite Hitchock movie. Among the reasons why I like it...

--Theresa Wright gave an extraordinary performance as Young Charlie, immensely sympathetic and appealing. I rate hers as the best acting job by a female lead in any of Hitchock's films, including those by Bergman, Kelly, et al.

--It was a perfect role for Cotten, an actor I like, who had charm, attractiveness, but to me always seemed a little weak. I thought the role, however psychopathic, suited his personality.

--The murder by-play at the family dinner table was great fun and played off Uncle Charlie's real murderousness.

--The slowly building knowledge that Young Charlie was realizing the truth about the uncle she idolized and the knowledge that no one would believe her.

--The slowly building realization that despite the affection Uncle Charlie had for Young Charlie, he probably was going to do her harm.

--The affection that Hitchcock shows toward comfortable small town America. It's an idealization, but without condescension. And because he plays it straight, he makes Uncle Charlie's philosophy of life seem all the more unsettling.

--The script was, I think, one of the best written and tightest Hitchcock ever worked with.

There's no mystery. We know Uncle Charlie is a killer. The movie is about how Young Charlie and Uncle Charlie are going to resolve their problem as they circle around each other. Hitchcock creates an increasingly unsettling atmosphere, using gentle humor as a foil, and with a person, Young Charlie, it's easy to care about.

The DVD transfer is very good.
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56 of 61 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars IN RETROSPECT, ONE OF THE BEST EVER May 12, 2000
Format:VHS Tape
To say Hitch's "Shadow of a Doubt" is a great film would be fair; but in all honesty, looking back on the films (hundreds by now, maybe thousands) I've seen, there are few that have left such an indelible impression on me.
By now, everyone knows the story of Uncle Charlie and his adoring niece and how she slowly uncovers the truth behind her mysterious uncle's past.
What's brilliant about this movie is the way it foreshadowed and still influences movies today. Think of "Blue Velvet" and its portrayal of the naive small town boy uncovering a secret to his sleepy little town. Or even "The Third Man" just a few years later where, ironically, Joseph Cotton finds the truth about his best friend, Orson Welles.
What makes this film endure is its theme: The loss of innocence. the innocence of Teresa Wright's adoring neice (watch the brilliant scene in the bar where she sits down with Joseph Cotton), the innocence of Charlie's family and of course, the innocence of Santa Rosa itself.
Perhaps Hitchcock and Thornton Wilder were prophetic in the way they mapped out the loss of America's innocence especially after the war. (the film was released around then). Look at our society now and how everything has changed. The 50's were looked upon as the decade we lost our innocence (Some even point far later to the Vietnam war as the period that ended it) but Hitchcock back in the 40's was saying that everything was not all right, and that bad things just didn't happen in dark alleys and dark houses, that it could happen on the sunniest of days and in most Apple Pie, White picket fence homes.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Hitchcock's Best Movie!
This is my favorite Alfred Hitchcock movie. Wonderful cast and great suspenseful story line. This is a must for anybody's collection of black and white films. Read more
Published 3 days ago by C. Stuart
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great thriller! Great cast!
Published 4 days ago by rhonda Hart
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
A great classic movie.
Published 8 days ago by Mary Katharine Hancock
5.0 out of 5 stars Hitch's favorite?
That's what he said! Truly Hitch's first "American" film, with a script primarily by the OUT TOWN playwright, Thornton Wilder. Read more
Published 17 days ago by Bob Gutowski
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic Hitchcock Thriller! and His Personal Favorite
Great flick! An intense and penetrating portrait of the evil that lurks in the commonplace existence of all of us. Read more
Published 22 days ago by willow running hawk
5.0 out of 5 stars a wonderful movie.
so glad o ordered this movie. it is excellent. great story, wonderful acting and sure to be loved for years to come.
Published 27 days ago by lana smith
5.0 out of 5 stars One Of My Favorite Films
I understand why this was one of Hitchcock's favorite movies he directed. It's timeless! I have watched this movie more than 10 times and every time I get pulled into the story.
Published 1 month ago by Mel
5.0 out of 5 stars one of Hitchcock's best
This little film by Hitchcock is excellent, it holds the suspense throughout the entire movie. If you haven't seen it, definitely buy or rent it, as it is a real gem.
Published 2 months ago by Pushkin's Mom
5.0 out of 5 stars Movie fans necessary viewing
the way Hitchcock uses the camera, the echoed scenes (look at Uncle Charley and Niece Charlie lying in bed in the first sets of scenes, then ALL the duplicity throughout the film),... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Jim
5.0 out of 5 stars One of Hitchcock's Best!!
This film has everything a mystery should have. The stars are great especially some of the extras. You see them every where but you never know their names but you should find them... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Kathy Sandrock
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The "enhanced" DVD is a scam -- it's a unlicensed bootleg and contains a poor quality version of the film downloaded from the Internet Archive. Stick to the official DVD release from Universal and you'll get the best available transfer of the film, along with a selection of extras... Read More
Aug 14, 2009 by David Pattern |  See all 3 posts
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The "enhanced" DVD is a scam -- it's a unlicensed bootleg and contains a poor quality version of the film downloaded from the Internet Archive. Stick to the official DVD release from Universal and you'll get the best available transfer of the film (including English and Spanish... Read More
Aug 14, 2009 by David Pattern |  See all 3 posts
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