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.

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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.

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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.

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.

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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!

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I Bid You Welcome: Dracula (1931)

 I am Dracula…I bid you welcome

So Dracula is one of the best horror films ever made. I know you all were wondering when he would be popping up. This version with Bela Lugosi is my favorite; as I feel the other version either have subpar acting, a distortion of the story, or just fall flat in their presentation.

Bela Lugosi was never intended for the part of Dracula. Originally Lon Chaney was going to play him, but he died the year before. As much as I love Lon Chaney, I can’t see Dracula as anyone but Bela Lugosi.

I have to say that this film probably has the most remakes of all time. There’s House of Dracula, Dracula (1958), The Return of Dracula, Dracula: Prince of Darkness, Dracula Has Risen From the Grave, Billy the Kid vs. Dracula, Taste the Blood of Dracula, Scars of Dracula, Blood of Dracula’s Castle, Count Dracula, Dracula vs. Frankenstein, Count Dracula’s Great Love, Dracula AD 1972, The Satanic Rites of Dracula, Dracula (1979), Love at First Bite, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Dracula: Dead and Loving It, Dracula 2000, Dracula II: Ascension, Dracula III: Legacy, Dracula’s Curse, Dracula 3000, The Batman vs. Dracula, Dracula (2006), Dracula 3D, Hotel Transylvania, Scooby-Doo & the Ghoul School, and Scooby-Doo and the Reluctant Werewolf . Not to mention all sequels or films that Drac has a part in; this guy sure gets around.

Of course even with all of these, Lugosi’s version still stands the test of time. It is the one we quote, the one that we mimic Lugosi’s voice from, and the one that we copy the cape movements from; pretending that we too are a vampire.

Dracula

It’s funny that in this film Dracula doesn’t display fangs or show vampire bite marks on the neck.

So the film starts out with Renfield, a lawyer, going to Dracula’s castle. All the villagers warn him that there are vampires there, but Renfield doesn’t listen.

“Innkeeper: Castle Dracula?
Renfield: Yes. That’s where I’m going.
Innkeeper: To the castle?
Renfield: Yes.
Innkeeper: No. You musn’t go there. We people of the mountains believe in the castle there are vampires. Dracula and his wives – they take the form of wolves and bats. They leave their coffins at night and they feed on the blood of the living.”

When Renfield enters the castle he is greeted by Dracula and those famous lines! My favorite.

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“Count Dracula: I am Dracula.
Renfield: Oh, it’s really good to see you. I don’t know what happened to the driver and my luggage and… Well, and with all this, I thought I was in the wrong place.
Count Dracula: I bid you welcome. [Dracula goes up the stairs. Renfield starts to follow him. Suddenly, Dracula hears wolves howling] Listen to them. Children of the night. What music they make.
[Dracula goes up the steps and waits for Renfield, who, without difficulty, cuts open a hole in a huge spider’s web using his walking stick]
Count Dracula: The spider spinning his web for the unwary fly. The blood is the life, Mr. Renfield.
Renfield: Why, er… yes.”

Renfield doesn’t make it out alive as Dracula ends up attacking him and turning him into a vampire. Renfield becomes crazed as the slave of Dracula. The two travel to England, and when the ship docks only Renfield is left on the boat. Everyone else is dead with the blood sucked out of them. Renfield is a looney, so he is taking to Dr. Seward’s sanitorium.

Martin: Aren’t you ashamed now? Aren’t you? Spiders now, is it? Flies ain’t good enough!
Renfield: Flies? Flies? Poor puny things! Who wants to eat flies?
Martin: You do, you loony!
Renfield: Not when I can get nice fat spiders!
Martin: All right, have it your own way

Later Dracula runs into Dr. Seward, his daughter Mina, Mina’s fiancé John Harker, and family friend Lucy Weston. Lucy becomes enamored of Dracula. Later that night Dracula visits her in her sleep and drinks out all her blood.

Blood!

The next day Lucy is dead as no transfusion is able to save her.

Noooooooooo!!!!!!!

Noooooooooo!!!!!!!

Renfield is acting crazier, and crazier and Professor Van Helsing starts speaking to him to try and help him work through his problems. He believes there is a vampire involved in this.

Renfield: He came and stood below my window in the moonlight. And he promised me things, not in words, but by doing them.
Van Helsing: Doing them?
Renfield: By making them happen. A red mist spread over the lawn, coming on like a flame of fire! And then he parted it, and I could see that there were thousands of rats, with their eyes blazing red,l ike his, only smaller. Then he held up his hand, and they all stopped, and I thought he seemed to be saying: “Rats! Rats! Rats! Thousands! Millions of them! All red-blood! All these will I give you! If you will obey me!”
Van Helsing: What did he want you to do?
Renfield: That which has already been done! [giggles sinisterly] “

Renfield doesn’t like it when Van Helsing shows him wolfsbane; something he declares is able to stop vampires.

Later that evening Dracula attacks Mina; he doesn’t fully drain all her blood, but chooses to do it a little at a time.

Van Helsing also notices that Count Dracula doesn’t have a reflection and concludes he must be a vampire.

Van Helsing puts a wreath of wolfsbane around her neck and tells her nurse not to remove it. He also gives Harker a cross and tells him to hold onto it; that it will protect him from harm of the vampires and not to give it away.

Immediately Harker tries to give it to Mina and it doesn’t work.

DID YOU JUST NOT HEAR THE MAN? HE SAID IT WILL WORK ONLY FOR YOU! YOU KEEP IT!

princess Bride Victim to classic blunder Vizzini

I mean this is such a classic mistake made by these men in these horror films. In The Mummy, he just has to give the girl the charm that is supposed to protect only him, and then gets knocked out and is unable to keep her from being kidnapped. In The Wolf Man, he gives the girl the charm to protect him, and it doesn’t work for her. Instead he manifests into being a werewolf and almost kills her. MORAL OF THESE STORIES, KEEP THE DANG CHARM!!! DON’T GIVE IT AWAY!!!

Van Helsing confronts Dracula and tells him to leave Mina alone. Dracula tells him that it is too late, he has given Mina some of his blood and he belongs to her. Van Helsing tells Dracula that he will hunt down his coffin and drive a stake through his heart no matter what.

“Count Dracula: Van Helsing.
[Van Helsing turns to face Count Dracula]
Count Dracula: Now that you have learned what you have learned, it would be well for you to return to your own country.
Van Helsing: I prefer to remain and protect those whom you would destroy.
Count Dracula: You are too late. My blood now flows through her veins. She will live through the centuries to come, as I have lived.
Van Helsing: Should you escape us, Dracula. We know how to save Miss Mina’s soul if not her life.
Count Dracula: If she dies by day. But I shall see that she dies by night.
Van Helsing: And I will have Carfax Abbey torn down, stone by stone, excavated a mile around. I will find your earth-box and drive that stake through your heart.
Count Dracula: Come here.
[Dracula raises his hand to hypnotise Van Helsing]
Count Dracula: Come here.
[Van Helsing takes three hypnotised steps towards Dracula but soon steps back, resisting Dracula’s hypnotic power over him]
Count Dracula: Your will is strong, Van Helsing.
[Van Helsing reaches out for his crucifix as Dracula looms toward him]
Count Dracula: More wolfsbane?
Van Helsing: More effective than wolfsbane, Count.
Count Dracula: Indeed. [Dracula lunges towards Van Helsing. Van Helsing holds up the crucifix. Dracula snarls and turns away. Van Helsing, in triumph, puts away the crucifix]”

Harker still hasn’t realized what is happening to Mina. He takes her out in the night, where she attacks him. He is saved by Van Helsing who puts Mina in her room with wolfsbane. He tells the nurse to make sure that she does not remove it.

He and Harker leave to look for the coffin. They know it must be in the area as Dracula would never travel too far from it.

While they are gone, Dracula hypnotizes the nurse and has her remove the wolfsbane.

Dracula takes off with Mina, bringing her to his lair.

 Harker and Van Helsing see him and follow him; Harker wanting to save Mina while Van Helsing wants to destroy Dracula. Renfield manages to escape from his cell and follows them as well. Dracula kills Renfield; thinking that he lead everyone to his lair. Eventually Dracula is forced to return to his coffin as the sun is rising. When he does Van Helsing drives a stake through his heart and Harker goes to get Mina.

This film is truly amazing and I think you should check it out. It has influenced countless generations and really became the face and substance of who Dracula is.

This was one of Bela Lugosi’s favorite films and when he died he was buried wearing the black silk cape he wore for this film.

So that’s today’s  fearsome tale. More on the way.

Here’s poster I made for my cover page on facebook in honor or Halloween. Hope ya love it.

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

To go to the previous post, go to It’s Alive, It’s ALIVE!

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For more on Dracula, go to A Monster Race

For more on vampires, go to Grimwood Ghouls’ Gyn Teacher

For more on Bela Lugosi, go to Universal’s Classic Monster Movies

For more films based on books, go to The Only Thing That Matters is the Ending

For more on Lon Chaney, go to Feast Your Eyes On My Accursed Ugliness

For more films that spanned countless sequels and remakes, go to Camp Blood