Shadow of a Doubt (1943)

(On TV, June 2018) Even though Hitchcock worked steadily throughout the film-noir period, most of his movies aren’t as closely associated with the subgenre as you’d think: Hitchcock was his own subgenre, and his preoccupations were usually not those of classic film noir. But some Hitchcock movies often approach noir, and Shadow of a Doubt (along with Strangers on a Train) is often mentioned in that vein. I’d argue that the film was closer to the paranoid domestic thrillers of the 1940s (alongside Rebecca and Gaslight), but no matter the subclassification, Shadow of a Doubt remains a decent entry in the filmmaker’s oeuvre. It’s about a teenage girl who comes to suspect that her uncle, newly arrived as a house guest, is a serial killer. She’s unsurprisingly right, of course, and much of the film’s last act is spent surviving her uncle’s murderous plans. It’s a decent enough film, although perhaps one of Hitchcock’s least surprising ones. Still, his mastery of suspense is better than any inclination toward surprise, and the results speak for itself. Much of the plot was later reused and pushed to an extreme conclusion in Park Chan-wook’s far more disquieting Stoker (2013).

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