Wednesday, July 6, 2011


I really enjoyed posting two straight weeks of blogs on Hollywood films from the 1930's, and so for the 1940's I'm going to up the ante and try for three weeks worth. Looking at titles I have left from the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die book, this shouldn't be a problem. As before, I’ll list my expectations for each film going in and state whether these expectations are reached or not. And I’ll once again give each film my Elisha Cook Jr. supporting player award because there was such a bounty of great supporting performers from this period and I just like doing it.

Shadow of a Doubt (1943)
Expectations: The king of directors competition in the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die contest is pretty much a slam-dunk in favor of Sir Alfred Hitchcock. There are 18 Hitchcock movies listed. 18! The second place director, Howard Hawks has only 11. (I think I did the math right).
I’m looking forward to watching Shadow of a Doubt as I haven’t seen it and no next to nothing about it.

After viewing: The plot really unravels slowly, but I didn’t mind that. The story gets where its going at its own speed and the slow arc heightens the drama. A good cast (led by Joseph Cotton and Teresa Wright), a good story and a pretty decent director too.

And as I often do when I spot them I must point out a great librarian moment. Teresa Wright has got to get hold of a newspaper article from the local public library that may or may not incriminate her Uncle. But the library has just closed! And what does the kindly librarian do? She lets the distraught young lady in and gets down the newspaper in question and gives Teresa three minutes to find the article she is looking for so the plot can continue. A thoughtful professional, I must say.
Let this be a reminder: If you need to use the public library, please make note of library hours and judge your time accordingly. Librarians have lives too!

And the Elisha Cook Jr. supporting player award goes to…Screenwriter Thornton Wilder. Certainly a big name Hitchcock got to pen the majority of this screenplay, which is well done. But who knows how much is Wilder and how much are the script doctors (including Mrs. Hitchcock). Other memorable supporting players in this film include Henry (Clarence, Angel second class) Travers, Hume (he was actually young once) Cronyn, Patricia (the sweet mother who is slow to catch on) Collinge and daughter Edna May (the smart daughter, whose character has read Ivanhoe, which makes her a better man than I am, Gunga Din) Wonacutt and Wallace (Wasn’t he the one who was going to buy Schlitze the Pinhead a hat with a feather coming out of it in Freaks?) Ford.

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