Sunday, February 1, 2009

Film Ignorance #24: Shadow of a Doubt

The Magnificent Ambersons has nothing in common with Shadow of a Doubt. It's a good movie.

Film: Shadow of a Doubt
Rating: But...This Movie Sucks!
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Stars: Joseph Cotten, Teresa Wright
Year: 1963
Reason for Ignorance: Looked Stupid

Ignorance Rating*: Pending

Another Hitchcock film, another disappointment. And especially disappointing because on this subject, I know Hitchcock could do more.

This is a movie about a young girl who suspects that her beloved uncle Charlie is actually the merry widow murderer. I was expecting a film like Rear Window and its successors, Disturbia, Manhattan Murder Mystery, et al: a movie in which both the audience and the protagonist suspects someone of murder, but it becomes increasingly clear throughout the movie that either the "murderer" is unbelievably suave and clever or the protagonist is insane. Neither the audience nor the protagonist knows which, so all they can do is follow the story, simultaneously suspecting the killer and doubting themselves.

Non-spoiler alert: Joseph Cotten's Uncle Charlie is the serial killer. Maybe you would have guessed that from how he runs from detectives in the first scene in the movie. Maybe from how he hides a newspaper article from the family. Maybe from how he angrily snaps at everyone at a moment's notice (how did he get close to those windows if he yells at everyone for no reason?)

Additionally, there are two unintentionally comedic clues that he is the killer: 1. One night at dinner he speechifies about how rich widows are a drain on society and don't deserve their money. This is supposed to be chilling, I think, but I found it hilarious. I know weird uncles say weird things at the dinner table, but this was over the top (They're the scum of society!, etc).

2.Believe it or not, he frequently makes strangling motions with his hands. One time, at a bar booth, he's holding some paper and repeatedly strangling it. Another time, he's alone and looking at a potential victim, and his hands make strangling motions again. This is hilarious. Not chilling. Hilarious.

So, if it's not a mystery about a suave killer, what is it? It's two movies, both stupid:

1.It's about Teresa Wright's character (also named Charlie) discovering the uncle is a murderer but being unwilling to accept her mom by helping the police. This is the psychological dilemma in the movie: My uncle has killed three women, but on the other hand, my mom likes him a lot. What should I do? Stupid.

2.A love story between girl Charlie and one of the detectives. I've said it before about Hitchcock, and I'll say it again: a stupid and nonsensical, poorly fleshed out, tangential love story is the worst way to ruin a movie that might otherwise be good. Girl Charlie and Detective Graham fall in love after about 3 minutes, stupid Hollywood style. The funniest line of the whole movie: Graham tells Charlie that he'll always remember a certain place in town because "it's where I first knew I loved you."

First knew I loved you? That was only 36 hours ago! And you had met her less than 12 hours before! Really?

Sorry H-Cock, I'm not buying any of it. And there's so much more of his garbage on my film ignorance list...

*The "Ignorance Rating" is the percentage of people who voted "Yes" on the poll for this film. If ten people vote in the poll, and 5 of them have seen the movie, I give it an ignorance rating of 50. It's just a ballpark way for me to know how egregious my ignorance was in this case.


tri(sarah)tops said...

somewhat random question: are you no longer setting up the "ignorance rating" polls? the other option is that blogger just refuses to update it. the last one that shows up on mine is for the Red Shoes.

sildenafil said...

Hello fellas let me tell you that shadow is a tremendous film i really enjoy it see and it cause is so cool have no comparison .

azithromycin 500mg said...

This movie is one of my favorite.

But "The Matrix" has always been #1 for me!

Thanks for your time =)