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

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“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.

never-say-never-in-front-of-fantasy_1279

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.

tugs arm Shadow-Teresa-Wright-Schock-004-295px

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.

800__shadow_of_a_doubt_blu-ray_04_intense stare angry upset mad creep

“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.

Tuesdaythe17th scream ah

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.

1943_Shadowofadoubt

 

 

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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!

Secrets are Great, Unless You Get Caught: Perfect Stranger (2007)

Secrets are great. Unless you get caught.

So a week ago I had some free time and was flipping through channels, planning on just zoning out in front of the TV until my next class. I landed on FX and started watching this movie with Halle Berry and Bruce Willis. It seemed really good, but I couldn’t finish it as I had to run off to my next class. I decided to rent it  and finish watching it as the plot really intrigued me. Unfortunately; it wasn’t very good. I thought it had too many sexual scenes that were just awkward and painful to get through, I ended up having to fast forward through them all. I also thought they dropped the F-bomb too many times. I’m not one who curses at all, but I think everyone who does will agree with me that there are times when the F-Bomb is said too many times that it loses its meaning and makes the person just look stupid.

I also didn’t like Halle Berry’s character Ro. I thought that she was a mean, selfish jerk. Her friend Miles is head over heels crazy for her, and Ro knows this and instead of letting him off gently; she is totally rude to him, just using him for all the information he can get. Now I know I have been a total witch to guys (check out the Elton Saga: 1,2,& 3 plus lame lines  and flirting post), but at least I never toyed with a guys affections to get him to retrieve information for me.

The only really good part about this film is the end. It was amazing! I wish there was a way one could just watch it and understand the rest of the film.

Here are the links if you want to check it out yourself.

FYI Spolier Alert

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

So the movie starts out with Halle Berry’s character Ro, a journalist,  tricking a senator into revealing all of his dirty secrets.

Ro is pretty high on her recent sucess and goes out to celebrate with her best friend/computer whiz/guy madly in love with her that she doesn’t care for, Miles. After she becomes extrremely drunk, she ends up being told by her boss that they are burying the story. Extremely angry that her freedom of press is being stomped on, she quits.

She starts on home feeling angry and crappy. She’about to board the subway and head home, when her old school friend she hasn’t spoken to in years; and is really mad at, because she slept with her boyfriend, Grace approaches her.

Hey girl, what up?

Turns out Grace met this guy, ADEX, online and had cybersex with him, later meeting up with him in real life. It turns out that “ADEX” was really the rich and famous Harrison Hill. She and him had a big fling and now she is threatening to blackmail him. She also wants Ro to write this up for the paper and completely embarass Hill. Ro blows her off and continues on home.

A week later, Ro gets a call from Grace’s mom telling her Grace is thought to be dead. Ro goes and identifies the drowned body, confirming that it is Grace. From here Ro decides she is going to take on Hill, and get him for what he did. She enlists Miles who has all the knowledge and contacts to pull off a caper like this.

She starts working at Hill’s Ad agency and quickly makes friends with the biggest gossip there; thus learning all the dirty secrets on everyone. Apparently Hill has had many affairs, all of which his wife is tired of. In fact, if he does it one more time, she’s leaving him. Now you might think, so what? He can get along without her. Wrong-o! Turns out Hill has nothing, nada, zip! His wife has the money, the company, EVERYTHING! He wouldn’t dare let her know that he was having another affair or else he would be kicked to the curb. He pretends to be the dutiful husband, going along with her to fertility tanks, because his wife is infertile. Sounds like a motive to me.

Then Ro witnesses what Hill does to people he thinks are betraying him. He beats up on one of his employees that he thinks is spilling secrets to their competitor.

Don’t make me angry

So more and more he is looking like the villain. But is it ever that easy?

Now there are a lot of web chatting, and online sex, and gross things…between her, TruBlue (random guy she meets online), and ADEX.

Oh and Ro has these weird flashbacks throughout the film that involve her father. They don’t outright say it, but strongly hint that he was molesting/raping her as a child. At times they become a mishmash of flashback/present day dream/nightmarelike things. They get very confusing at times.

Then the movie gets intense again. Ro has pretty much confirmed that ADEX is Hill. And she starts talking to him online AT WORK! I mean COME ON! HOW STUPID CAN YOU BE?

I mean the stupidity level is on par with taking a shower when there are monsters running about. Just saying.

So of course she has stuff on her screen that she doesn’t want Hill to see, and he just HAS to come over to talk to her. The scene is actually pretty intense ands set up very well.

So Ro is able to get out of that tight spot, and turns down her boss’ offer to go out with him, wanting instead to keep things “professional”.

That night she meets up with Miles, once again being  complete dermo (a word I created for loser/jerk who uses someone. I actually found out the definition for the “true” word isn’t that far off. Cool, huh?) to him. Miles brings a friend who works with the coroner. Apparently Grace was not just drowned but drugged with Belladonna and had some put in her eyes. Hill’s wife’s family has donated a ton of money to medical research, a majority of that which used Belladonna. Hmm…suspicious. Also, after she was poisoned, Grace was drowned. She was also pregnant. Things are looking worse and worse for Hill.

*At this point in the film I have already decided that it is not Hill. It is way too obvious and I think that there is another character who has a stronger motive, Hill’s wife. What if Grace approached the wife right after talking to Ro. Maybe the wife was one of those women who couldn’t stand to lose her man and would take out any woman who dared try to take him from her. What if all those past affairs have just been compounding on her brain all these years, and she just snaps hearing about this one. But the most likely motive; she couldn’t bear to hear that after trying so long to be pregnant and being infertile, that this little tramp got pregnant by her husband. The one thing she could not do, being done by some harlot? That’s enough to drive any woman to the brink of insanity. It would be easy, all she would have to do is meet up with Grace to see the proof, give her a drink laced with the Belladonna, which of course would be easy for her to get, and kill her. If she didn’t want to do it herself she has plenty of money to hire someone to do it for her.

Anyways, so Ro goes out with Hill after all to try and probe his mind a little. She ends up being slightly charmed by him instead.

The next day he comes to pick her up and we see his wife is creepin’ on them from a taxi. Makes her look totally suspicious.

Ro is trying to get into Hill’s computer to get a look at his emails. Miles give her a spyware program on a flashdrive, but it tkes some time so she has to do it when Hill won’t be around. She waits until after work, when everyone is gone and sticks it in. Only prob is, Hill hasn’t left yet. She’s caught red-handed.

She ends up making up a dumb story involving a private joke the two shared the night they went out.

For some strange reason he buys her answer and takes her out to dinner. They are having fun, making out, etc; and Ro leaves to go to the bathroom. And she leaves her purse and phone behind.

Okay, hold up now, what woman does that? What woman would leave to go to the bathroom and not take her purse and phone. Bad call writers, bad call.

So while she is gone her phone goes off, and Hill decides that he’s gonna read her text message. Seriously, who does that? Does he not understand the word “privacy”?

She comes back, and Hill starts driving her home. He stops in a random place and then starts yelling at her. Telling her he knows her secrets, that she is a spy from their rival competitors. Ro, trying to save herself, admits to it. Hill becomes so angry that he almost hits her.

Let’s rewind and back that up. Almost hits her. At this point in the film I knew it wasn’t him. He just had the sense that he would never hurt a woman. And I found it odd that the only thing he thought Ro was trying to discover about him was spying for another company? It just seemed off to me. I mean if he had killed Grace, Miles message would have made him think that Ro was onto him about that, yet the only thing that comes to mind is a rival company spy? Hmm….

So Ro is fired. Now this is where the story gets weird.

Miles decided to go in and save the day. The next day he pretends to be an IT guy for Hill, ready to do a complete inspection on Hill’s computer. Hill tells him to wait a bit and check out the office. He looks at these photographs done by Mrs. Hill of eyes dilluted with Belladonna.

At this point I’m completely sold on the fact that Mrs. H is the murderer.

Meanwhile, Ro goes to Miles house to make him dinner and discovers that he has some freaky, jacking-off, man-cave, room thing. Really gross and freaky. She also sees that Miles was TruBlue and had been sleeping with Grace.

ew! Gross Yuck

He also channeled Helga from Hey Arnold with a super creepy Ro shrine. Its actually talks and says “Miles is sexy” in Ro’s actual voice. Very sick.

Yeah, pretty freaky!

Miles comes home and Ro starts yelling at him, and accusing him of being the murderer. Miles admits he’s a freak but shows her Hill’s company’s website with the Belladonna pics. He is now absolutely convinced that Hill or his wife killed Grace. Ro still won’t listen and walks out, never wanting to speak to Miles again.

The next day she takes all her info to the police and they set up a sting to catch Hill. Everything pretty much falls apart as the evidence is so high against him. His wife gives some pretty damaging evidence against him. Hill is convicted and sent to jail.

Ro goes back to work and starts writing an article on everything that went on. She has a really great opening:

Ro: It’s a world where you *think* actions have no consequence, where guilt is cloaked by anonymity, where there are no fingerprints. An invisible universe filled with strangers, interconnected online and disconnected in life. It will steal your secrets, corrupt your dreams, and co-opt your identity. Because in this world, where you can be anything you want, any *one* you want, you just might lose sight of who you are.

So here, the movie seems pretty wrapped up, but you just know there has to be one last twist. I’m waiting for the wife to go crazy or be discovered or something.

So then we have this great shot of Mrs. Hill going to the medicine cabinet (where she kept the Belladonna) and opening it. Then we see gloved hands pull out some hair spray, unscew the bottom (like in Jurassic Park) and pull out Belladonna. The person is………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Ro.

Yes Ro. Ro is trying to dump out her secret Belladonna down the drain. Ro then has a flashback and we get the whole story. Her father was going to molest her, when her mom stepped in and beat her dad with the fireplace poker. Instead of calling the cops they buried him in the backyard, and Grace saw the whole thing and has been blackmailing her for years. Watch the video:

Great ending. Only great part of the film.

I especially love how they review the scene between her and Grace. You know get the full meaning of the words that she used when talking to Ro.

The only thing I didn’t like was the moving around of Miles and Ro when he is telling her he had it all figured out. I thought it was just weird. Ugh, and Miles was so gross trying to blackmail her into sleeping with him, yuck!

I love how in the end Hill wasn’t the “perfect stranger”, but they all were. Each character had secrets and things about them they were hiding; in the end being someone completely different than you expected.

So that’s today’s freaky tale. More are on the way.

PerfectStranger

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To go to the beginning of Horrorfest, go to I Don’t Belong in the World

For the previous post, go to Universal’s Classic Monster Movies

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For more on unrequited love, go to Feast Your Eyes On My Accursed Ugliness