You Think You Know Something, Don’t You?: Shadow of a Doubt (1943)

shadowofadoubt2

“You think you know something, don’t you? You think you’re the clever little girl who knows something. There’s so much you don’t know, so much. What do you know, really? You’re just an ordinary little girl, living in an ordinary little town. You wake up every morning of your life and you know perfectly well that there’s nothing in the world to trouble you. You go through your ordinary little day, and at night you sleep your untroubled ordinary little sleep, filled with peaceful stupid dreams. And I brought you nightmares.”

So for my first Alfred Hitchcock film, I am going to review Shadow of a Doubt. This really surprised me as I never thought this would have been the first, (I was sure it would be Psycho). But I had such an urge to talk about it, that I had to follow it. Now this has never been considered one of Hitchcock’s greats, in fact it bombed at the office, but it was both Alfred Hitchcock’s and Teresa Wright’s favorite film.

I actually have a personal connection to this film myself. I used to go to college near Santa Rosa and one day for film class we were going to watch a psychological film. The one we chose wouldn’t work and I suggested that we had to watch an Alfred Hitchcock film, specifically Shadow of a Doubt. I had this urge and was pushing the film so hard, even though it is not one of my favorite Hitchcock films. It was only when we watched it, that I remembered that it was set and filmed in Santa Rosa. In fact, I have been to all the areas the film was set in.

So the film is supposed to be about a happy town, full of normal American people, but underneath this lies something horrible. This kind of thing was what David Lynch ended up doing and becoming famous for in his film Blue Velvet and TV series Twin Peaks.

TwinPeaks dark henious evil

So the film starts off with the extremely handsome Joseph Cotten, lying on a bed. His name is Charlie Oakley.

Cotten, Joseph (Shadow of a Doubt)_01 phone call

His landlady knocks on the door and tells him that there are two men looking for him. Charlie quickly packs some things up, gathers his money, and takes off. He makes plans to get out of the East coast, going heading to California to visit his sister Emma in Santa Rosa.

In Santa Rosa, we meet Charlie 2 (Teresa Wright), named after her Uncle Charlie. (From now on I’m going to say Charlie for Teresa Wright and Uncle Charlie for Joseph Cotten as otherwise it will be too confusing.) Anyways, Charlie has been complaining that life is boring. Nothing interesting ever happens in life.

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She finds out that her Uncle Charlie is coming and is ecstatic. The two of them have always shared a special bond. Out of everyone in their family, she feels that Charlie is the only one who really gets her.

he gets me

Uncle Charlie greets the family and not only bring life into the house but gifts. Charlie gets the most special gift of all, an emerald ring. Charlie notices an engraving of initials on the inside and asks Uncle Charlie what they stand for. He doesn’t know and blames the jeweler for selling him an old ring instead of a new one.

Sound suspicious

Sound suspicious

He keeps trying to push Charlie to let him get it re-engraved, but she refuses. At dinner, Emma is humming this song. It has been stuck in her head all day and she can’t remember what it is called. She asks around to everyone else, and her husband Joseph says that it is The Merry Widow Waltz. When Uncle Charlie hears this, he is startled and spills his wine.

shadowofadoubt unhappy

After dinner, Joseph’s friend comes over. Now this is an interesting subplot. The two of them are huge mystery fans and are constantly trying to create the perfect murder. This subplot always makes me laugh and it reminds me of a friend and I. We are always talking about the best way to kill someone and get away with it. I always go with the Secret Window way.

“Joseph Newton: We’re not talking about killing people. Herb’s talking about killing me and I’m talking about killing him.”

In fact, they remind me of Randy from Scream except with actual murders, than horror films.

Randy

They determine one of the best ways to kill someone is to disguise the murder as a suicide.

The next day, Uncle Charlie is reading the paper, when he sees a story that upsets him. He rips the page with the story on it, and turns it into a house for the kids, hiding the ripped story in his pocket. Ann and Roger think it’s are cool, but they have to dismantle it as their father hasn’t had a chance to look at the paper.

Charlie saw him hiding the torn pages and starts teasing her Uncle. She grabs them out of his pocket and tries to put them together. But before she can, Uncle Charlie gets angry and pushes her away. She becomes frightened, but Uncle Charlie consoles her,  telling her that it was a bad story about a friend.

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Soon after, two men approach the family and let them know they have been chosen to be the feature family for a census agency on “typical American family-ness”. They will be coming to interview them and photograph their average lives.

BMW Average

Emma is really excited as Uncle Charlie will now be a part of the featured story. She tells Charlie about how she only has one photo of him. It was when he was a little boy, before he got in a horrible accident. After he recovered from the accident he never was the same again. Often getting into trouble.

Uncle Charlie says he will be staying in town for a while, and then begins acting strangely. At the bank he deposits forty thousand dollars in cash and makes all these jokes about the bank and Joseph (Charlie’s dad) embezzling funds. He also extremely avoids the census takers. He thinks they are up to something. Whenever they come to the house, he always leaves and won’t answer any questions.

paranoidAfterYou

When his picture gets taken, he becomes extremely angry and demands for the negative roll.

The younger of the two census workers, (Macdonald Carey), asks Charlie to be his guide of the town, and she agrees only to please her mother. When he gets her alone he tells her that he isn’t a census taker, but that instead he is Detective Jack Graham and that he is with the FBI. They are investigating “The Merry Widow Murderer”, a man who romances widows and murders them taking their money. He tells her that that they have two suspects. One of which is her Uncle Charlie.

Noooooooooo!!!!!!!

Noooooooooo!!!!!!!

The next day Charlie is still reeling from the news and sleeps all day. She doesn’t want to believe her Uncle Charlie is capable of murder. However, she can’t help thinking about his suspicious behavior.

Sound suspicious

Sound suspicious

Charlie gets even more freaked out when Uncle Charlie gives a rant on widows.

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“Uncle Charlie: The cities are full of women, middle-aged widows, husbands, dead, husbands who’ve spent their lives making fortunes, working and working. And then they die and leave their money to their wives, their silly wives. And what do the wives do, these useless women? You see them in the hotels, the best hotels, every day by the thousands, drinking the money, eating the money, losing the money at bridge, playing all day and all night, smelling of money, proud of their jewelry but of nothing else, horrible, faded, fat, greedy women… Are they human or are they fat, wheezing animals, hmm? And what happens to animals when they get too fat and too old?”

Charlie suffers a breakdown as she can’t handle the thought that her Uncle is a murderer. That coupled with her father and Herb’s constant murder talk, ugh she just needs to get away. Uncle Charlie follows her and takes her to a bar to talk.

At the bar, he confronts her suspicions and tells her that he is considered for The Merry Widow Murderer”, but it isn’t him. It is just a coincidence.

Yes I am

Yes I am

Charlie listens, but something doesn’t sit right with her. She still feels suspicious. She sneaks into Uncle Charlie’s room to try and figure out what article he had ripped up.

shadow-of-a-doubt-room door break into

She can’t put the pieces back together, and instead heads to the library. She convinces the librarian to let her search the papers and discovers that “The Merry Widow Murderer” killed a famous entertainer. She notices that the initials of the woman match the ring Uncle Charlie gave her.

OMG

She goes to her uncle to confront him, and he asks her not to say anything. She agrees to wait as she knows it will hurt her mother.

Meanwhile, Jack is pushing Charlie to give him info on her Uncle, but she won’t say a thing. They sent the photo of Uncle Charlie back East but haven’t heard whether or not he is the guy the are actually after. The other suspect they were considering was killed fleeing from the police and many believe he is the murderer.

After this news, Jack goes to Charlie and tells her that he likes her. And that he would like to date her, maybe even marry her one day.

Say What

I know. He has been nice, but he never even seemed to show that he was that interested in her. He totally pulls a Mr. Darcy, completely dropping that bomb out of the blue.

mr darcy

Uncle Charlie is all smiles and it seems like everything is fine, but Charlie can’t shake an uneasy feeling.

This doesn't feel right.

This doesn’t feel right.

Soon Charlie suffers from an accident. As she is coming down the stairs one of the steps falls through causing her to fall. She checks later but can’t tell of any tampering.

Oh what a horrible accident.

Oh what a horrible accident.

Now these are some of the best scenes in the film. In the beginning you aren’t sure if Uncle Charlie is doing anything, whether they are accidents or not. I mean could he really be so cold-blooded as to kill his own niece?

Gilmore girls creep

Uncle Charlie is asked to give a public lecture and the whole family is going to go hear him speak. There isn’t enough room for them to go in one car, so they decide to send most in a taxi, with the Charlies going in the car. Charlie gets trapped in her garage with the car going. She calls for help, but the music Uncle Charlie is playing overpowers her screams.

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Luckily, Herb is coming by as he does everyday and hears her, freeing her.

The next day, Uncle Charlie decides that he is leaving. Everyone but Charlie is sad to see him go. As he gets on the train we see that he won’t be traveling alone, but a rich widow from the town. Every one comes on board to check out the train, with Uncle Charlie gets Charlie to stay longer to talk. The train starts going while she is on it. She tries to run off, but Uncle Charlie tries to push her off the train onto the track of an oncoming one.

shadow of a doubt attack

The two struggle and Charlie manages to overpower him, knocking him off the train.

There is a funeral for Uncle Charlie and Jack comes back. Charlie tells him the truth and why she kept it hidden from him. Together they resolve to keep Uncle Charlie’s crimes a secret.

You have to see this film. The story is great, the acting amazing, and the cinematography is just beautiful.

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To start Horrorfest III from the beginning, go to Even a Man Pure of Heart

For the previous post, go to It’s Happening Again, Isn’t It?

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For more on Alfred Hitchcock, go to Horrorfest III: The Revenge

For more classic cinema, go to Feast Your Eyes On My Accursed Ugliness

For more serial killers, go to What’s Your Favorite Scary Movie?

For more psychological thrillers, go to A Deliciously Creepy Tale

For more of my favorite quotes, go to Happily Ever Aftermath

For more on Twin Peaks, go to Food, Food, Food!

Even a Man Pure of Heart: The Wolf Man (1941)

the wolf man

“Even a man who is pure in heart and says his prayers by night, may become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms and the autumn moon is bright.” 

This is such an amazing film as the story is excellent, the acting superb (Lon Chaney Jr. + Claude Rains). It is also a member of Universal’s Classic Monster Movie Collection, its buddies being The Phantom of the OperaFrankenstein,  The Bride of FrankensteinThe MummyDracula, The Creature from the Black Lagoon, etc. And this post means that I have finally, finally finished the list I set out to complete two years ago.

But what really makes this a spectacular film is that many of the modern myths of werewolves were originated in this film: such as a person becoming a werewolf through a bite; the only way to kill a werewolf is with a silver bullet; and changing into one during a full moon. These are all original concepts created by writer Curt Siodmak. Isn’t that amazing! Like The Mummy and The Creature from the Black Lagoon this film isn’t based on a book or any specific resource, which allowed the writers a lot of leeway in their work and creations.

So this isn’t the first werewolf film, as that was The Werewolf of London, which actually did rather poorly in theaters. This was the second werewolf horror film to be made and become the most famous. All the later depictions such as: The Howling, An American Werewolf in London, I Was a Teenage Werewolf, Van Helsing, The Wolfman (2010), etc.looked to it in creating their stories.

So the film was originally written for Boris Karloff, but he turned it down. And although I love that man [read my The Mummy (1932), Frankensteinor The Bride of Frankenstein post] I can’t imagine this film being as amazing with him as the title role. Lon Chaney Jr. was just superb. Lon Chaney Jr, was the son of the famous Lon Chaney (who I talk about in my Phantom of the Opera post) and interestingly the set that was used to film this movie was the same used for The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923) which starred Lon Chaney Jr.’s  father, Lon Chaney.

Unlike other films, The Wolf Man is the only Universal monster to be played by the same actor in all his 1940s film appearances; Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943), House of Frankenstein (1944), House of Dracula (1945), and  Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948).

Now I love this movie and story but it is soooo sad as well. Here is a wonderful man pure of heart, who has the unfortunate luck of being bitten by a werewolf and can’t do anything to stop it. Unlike modern movies where the person can control it, change at will, etc; in the original when the man transformed into a wolf he literally transformed into becoming a beast and losing all his humanistic thought, reasoning, etc.

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So the film starts out with Lon Chaney Jr. as Lawrence Talbot returning home.

Look at this sweetheart

Look at this sweetheart

His older brother has died, and as he is the second son he will now inherit everything–money, title, family home, etc. More importantly, after the realization that his brother is no longer, Lawrence AKA Larry, is eager to rebuild his relationship with his father. They had previously parted on not the best terms (he wanted to be an engineer his father wanted him to be something else. He decided to run away to California, against his father’s wishes).

Larry reacquaints himself with the village, taking a deep interest in a particular shopkeeper, Gwen Conliffe, who is unfortunately engaged. However, she is equally interested and as Larry buys a silver-wolf handled cane the two make a date to meet up later that night and visit the gypsies that are camping nearby.

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  That night Larry meets up with Gwen and her friend Jenny. The three make off to the gypsies passing some wolfsbane along the way. Both girls repeat the old gypsy folklore about wolfsbane:

Even a man who is pure in heart

and says his prayers by night

may become a wolf when the wolfsbane blooms

and the autumn moon is bright

Now what is really interesting about this old piece of folklore is that it isn’t that old. This quote has been thought to be an Eastern European folk saying, but Siodmak admits that he was the one who made it up. Even though that might be true, it went  down in film history becoming a part of almost every future Werewolf film and recited in every future Universal film appearance of the Wolf Man. [It is quoted by Van Helsing, but one of the lines was changed to “The moon is shining bright” instead of “The autumn moon is bright“]

Meanwhile, in the gypsy camp one of them has a terrible secret. Bela, played by Bela Lugosi, is actually a werewolf and hiding it from everyone.

Mal_huh Whoa Wow

When the group gets to the gypsy camp and have their fortunes read, Bela sees the pentagram on Jenny’s hand and knows that she’s next for death.

Ahhh!

Ahhh!

 

Bela runs off and the trio start walking home. Soon Jenny is attacked by a wolf and Larry tries to save her. He wrestles with the wolf and kills it by braining it with his cane. (It being silver can kill it) Unfortunately, he couldn’t save Jenny and during the battle, he ended up getting bit…

dun-dun-duuuun

Making him the next werewolf.

AAAAAAAAHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

AAAAAAAAHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The next day the constable comes to visit, causing Larry to second guess himself as they found a dead Bela instead of a wolf!

Say What

They found Bela beat in the head, and Larry’s silver cane matches perfectly as the weapon.

Col. Paul Montford, chief constable: [showing Larry’s stick to him] Is this your walking stick?

Larry Talbot: Why, yes. That’s the stick I killed the wolf with.

[Sir John Talbot and Col. Montford look at Larry with great concern]

Sir John Talbot: Larry, Bela the gypsy was killed last night. Your walking stick was found next to the body.

Larry Talbot: You mean, Bela the fortune teller? But… I only saw a wolf.

Larry is completely confused as he knows that it was a wolf. And how does that explain the murder of Jenny? Which was done by a wolf? The constable tells him he is still investigating as he really doesn’t want to arrest the Lord’s son, especially since there are so many questions. He ultimately deems the incident an accident.

Larry on the other hand is extremely puzzled. Could he have killed Bela? But he saw a wolf he was bit by one. Except the mark can not be found!

confused

Larry needs answers and decides he will go see the Gypsy woman and not only apologize for her son’s death but ask her what is going on! Gwen and her fiancé Frank go with him.

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The gypsy woman, Maleva reveals that he did kill a wolf–a werewolf. Her son Bela was a werewolf and the only thing that could kill him was silver, silver like the silver on his cane.

Maleva: You killed the wolf.

Larry Talbot: Well, there’s no crime in that is there?

Maleva: The wolf was Bela.

Larry Talbot: You think I don’t know the difference between a wolf and a man?

Maleva: Bela turned into a wolf and you killed him. A werewolf can only be killed by a silver bullet, or a silver knife…[looks down at Larry’s walking stick]…or a stick with a silver handle.

Larry Talbot: You’re insane! I tell you, I killed a wolf! A PLAIN, ORDINARY WOLF!!!

Maleva: Whoever is bitten by a werewolf and lives becomes a werewolf himself.

Larry Talbot: Ah, don’t hand me that. You’re just wasting your time.

Maleva: The wolf bit you, didn’t he?

Larry Talbot: Yeah. Yeah he did!

Maleva: [Larry shows Maleva his chest wound concealed under his shirt] Go now – and heaven help you!”

 

Larry of course doesn’t believe her and leaves. That night he transforms into the WEREWOLF!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Now the transformation was laborious. The makeup took six hours and was the design by  Jack Pierce  for Henry Hull in Werewolf of London Hull had rejected it as he didn’t like how long the process would be to apply it. Chaney Jr. claimed he had to sit motionless for hours as the scenes were shot frame by frame. Pierce used grease paint, a rubber snout, wigs, and glued layers of yak hair to Chaney Jr.’s face. Larry’s dissolve transformation on screen only took seconds, while in actuality it took almost ten hours as they had to keep reapplying layers for the changing fur.

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That night the Wolf Man attacks a grave-digger, Richardson.

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The constable and the Doctor finds his ravaged body and wolf tracks.

Meanwhile, Larry finds himself in bed with wolf tracks all around and has finally decided that the gypsy women must be telling him the truth. He talks to his father who just thinks that he is in shock and doesn’t take any of the “werewolf nonsense” seriously. He even calls the doctor who deems it just a mild form of hysteria.

The Constable and doctor prepare the woods to catch the wolf so that it doesn’t kill another person. The nigh as Larry as the Wolf Man  steps in one of the traps and gets caught. Luckily the Gypsy woman frees him, as she had  felt sorry for his predicament.

Larry transforms back into a human and asks the Gypsy woman and for help. She gives him a charm that will protect him from turning into a werewolf and warns him not to give the charm to ANYONE ELSE AS IT WON’T WORK FOR ANYONE ELSE!

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He then runs off to see Gwen to tell her that he is leaving. He knows he has killed the others and doesn’t want to hurt anyone else.

“Larry Talbot: You wouldn’t wanna run away with a murderer wouldja?

Gwen Conliffe: Oh Larry, you’re not. You know you’re not.

Larry Talbot: I killed Bela. I killed Richardson. If I stay here any longer, you can’t tell who’ll be next.”

Gwen tries to get him to take her with him as she loves him, but Larry sees the mark of the pentagram on her hand and tells her he can’t. Instead he gives her the charm. YES THE CHARM  THAT IS ONLY SUPPOSED TO PROTECT HIM! Really Larry? REALLY??????!!!!!!

Tom-Hanks-Saying-Really

YOU ARE MAKING THE  SAME FREAKIN’ MISTAKE THAT EVERY OTHER MONSTER FILM HERO DOES!

princess Bride Victim to classic blunder Vizzini

DID YOU NOT HEAR THE WOMAN EARLIER? SHE SAID IT WILL WORK ONLY FOR YOU! ONLY FOR YOU!! ONLY YOU!!! YOU KEEP IT! What’s the point of going to a gypsy for help if you ARE NOT GOING TO LISTEN????!!!!!!! I mean this is such a classic mistake made by these men in these horror films. In Dracula, he gives the girl the cross charm that is supposed to protect only him, and then gets knocked out and is unable to keep her from being kidnapped. In The Mummy, he gives the girl the charm that is only supposed to protect him, and it doesn’t work for her. Instead Imohtep knocks him out and takes the girl anyway. MORAL OF THESE STORIES, KEEP THE DANG CHARM!!! DON’T GIVE IT AWAY!!! Alright! So if any of you are given a protective charm you freakin’ keep it!!! YOU HEAR ME????!!!!

And now that I got that little rant out of my system, let’s get back to the story.

So Larry goes to see his father and asks him to lock him up; tie him up in a chair, lock the door, etc and to go far, far, away as he doesn’t want him to be hurt. He also gives his father his silver cane as he knows that it will protect him.

Now this is why I hate modern interpretations of werewolves, except for The Wolfman (2010), as they never capture this aspect of the story. Here is a good man who has become evil, but he doesn’t want to be evil. It wasn’t like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in which Dr. Jekyll made a choice, or even The Phantom of the Opera where he suffered such horrible things and had a complete snap and broke down. This was a good man who wanted to fix bad things in his life but the timing was off and he too is caught up in the evil. Modern interpretations also never cover the heartbreaking scene as this with his dad. He knows he can’t control the evil and the last thing he does is try to protect the ones he loves, first Gwen and then his father. The most emotional is the scene with his father, as here is a man he has been fighting with, had a horrible relationship, but you see in this moment how much love he has for his father. He gives him the cane as he wants his father to be safe, no matter what. And you see how much his father loves him by taking the cane, even though he thinks Larry is delusional.

The_Wolf_Man_4Crying

Gwen is worried about Larry and goes looking for him, running into the woods even though the Gypsy warns her not to. I mean seriously, why don’t we listen to the Gypsies? They are gypsies, they know stuff.

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So Gwen runs out and into Larry, who has escaped from his room. But instead of the sweet, adorable, loving Larry we are confronted by the horrible beast.

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But before the werewolf can do anything, Sir John comes and hits him with the cane, killing him.

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The constable and doctor presume that Larry was killed trying to save Gwen, but Sir John knows the truth and now is left alone and has to bury his other son.

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Maleva: The way you walked was thorny though no fault of your own, but as the rain enters the soil, the river enters the sea, so tears run to a predestined end. Now you will have peace for eternity.”

right in the feels broken heart

Yep. I have to say that this is one of my all-time favorite horror films. Although it makes me want to cry every time. 

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So that was our kick-off piece. Stay tuned for many more wonderful pieces to come!

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For more on The Wolf Man (1941), go to Pink Elephants

For more on werewolves, go to A Halloween Hello from the Austen Men

For more monster movies, go to They’re Coming to Get You Barbara

For more on Claude Rains, go to Universal’s Classic Monster Movies

For more on Bela Lugosi, go to I Bid You Welcome

For more films that spanned countless sequels and remakes, go to Everyones Entitled to One Good Scare