Just when Charlotte ‘Charlie’ Newton, is feeling especially frustrated by the lack of excitement in her small town in California, she receives wonderful news: Her uncle and namesake, Charlie Oakley, is coming to visit. However, as secrets about him come to the fore, Charlotte’s admiration turns into suspicion.
Merry Widow Murderer - Hitchcock style! Shadow Of A Doubt was believed to have been Hitchcock's own favourite movie, the one that he was most proud of as he felt his critics hadn't got any justifiable ammunition to shoot him down with. The film stands out because it doesn't have the tongue in cheek dark humour traits that light up most of the maestro's classics. The cheeky bonus is that of having the central premise of the main protagonist being a hero of the people. His family all adore him, where he is on the surface a man that all men want to be, and it's here that Hitchcock moulds a chilling filmic arc, in fact, it's a masterstroke of filmic manipulation. The plot involves Uncle Charlie returning to his adoring family in Santa Rosa after avoiding his apprehension for the murder of a widow. His niece Charlie treats Uncle as a hero, she worships the ground he walks on, but as the detectives close in, niece Charlie starts to piece together things and suspects herself that Uncle may just in fact be The Merry Widow Murderer. We are then pitched into the cat & mouse story and become privy to Uncle Charlie's switch from debonair handsome hero, into that of the devil incarnate. The reoccurring theme of The Merry Widow Waltz adds to the uneasy feel, while the relationship between Uncle & Niece is one that I'm sure Hitchcock was revelling in. Make no bones about it, it's in itself bordering on being unhealthy, and it's something that helps make this a more edgier thriller than other genre pieces of the era. Joseph Cotten is special as Uncle Charlie, his duality acting hits the spot on both fronts, whilst Teresa Wright is beguiling as the niece because she really makes the character infectious. Thus it's with these two great performances that the pics final reel brings socko results. Screenplay is written by the wonderfully talented Thornton Wilder, and with the master directing with swagger in tow, this rounds out as a triumphant classic that shouldn't be missed by fans of such terminologies. 10/10