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Entries in Shadow of a Doubt (7)

Saturday
Oct272018

Happy Teresa Wright Centennial

The Oscar-winning actress of Mrs Miniver fame, was born 100 years ago on this very day in Harlem, where I'm typing this from. (Well, not literally where I'm typing this from - this apartment probably didn't exist in 1918 but who knows.) 

a lesser known distinction: she was Marlon Brando's very first romantic interest in a film (his debut The Men, 1950)She didn't consider herself a glamour girl, which could account for the sparcity of glamorous photoshoots compared to other 'it girls'. Wright's screen heyday was short-lived as many careers are when the success is so instantaneous and large. Still, it's hard to knock the girl next door beauty  for not being able to live up to her first two years in Hollywood. Her first three movies (Little Foxes, Pride of the Yankees, Mrs Miniver) all brought her Oscar nominations. An Oscar winner by the age of 24 with batting a thousand record there was essentially nowhere to go but down. Still, before the inevitable fade of her career she managed two more all time classics, doing her best acting for Alfred Hitchcock in Shadow of a Doubt (1943) and appearing the perfect ensemble of one of the very best Best Picture winners The Best Years of Our Lives (1946). Her big screen career died quickly due to diminishing popularity and fights with her studio but she worked frequently on TV beginning in the 1950s.

Do you have a favorite Teresa Wright film?

Friday
Jul202018

Vintage '43

Let's soak in some 1943 since the Smackdown is but one week ago. Here's a look into what was hot hot hot that year in many fields and categories for context...

This is the Army (1943)

Great Big Box Office Hits 

  1. For Whom the Bell Tolls
  2. This is the Army
  3. The Song of Bernadette
  4. Thousands Cheer
  5. Star Spangled Rhythm
  6. Casablanca
  7. Air Force
  8. Destination Tokyo
  9. A Guy Named Joe
  10. Coney Island

Oscar's Best Picture List  

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
May242017

Beauty vs Beast: All About Ellen

Jason from MNPP here with this week's All Sigourney edition of "Beauty vs Beast" -- everything should always be All Sigourney, don't you think? Most especially Alien movies. I can't tell you how much I missed the grounding presence of Ellen Ripley this past weekend, whiplashing around Ridley Scott's scattered Covenant. If only we were getting Neill Blomkamp's proposed sequel, I kept thinking. An Alien without a Ripley is a body without a heart or a brain - an exo-skeleton full of acid.

So that's where I stand on Covenant. And even if they're more positive than I am most (if not all?) reviews continue to point to the first two films as the franchise's high-water mark. But instead of facing Ripley off with Giger's literal Beast I thought it would be more interesting to do a variation on the eternal "Alien or Aliens" question, and face off Scott's Ripley against James Cameron's Ripley, as the low-key smartypants of the first movie is in many ways quite a different beast altogether from the ass-kicking maternal Cassandra of the second. Which Ripley's your jam, and why?

PREVIOUSLY We tackled Alfred Hitchcock's personal fave Shadow of a Doubt (1943) last week for Joseph Cotten's birthday and it was Cotten's Uncle Charlie who triumphed over his niece Charlie (Teresa Wright), although it was close (as it ought to be with such doubling going on). Said Dancin' Dan:

"This is impossible, pitting one of my favorite Hitchcock heroines against one of my favorite Hitchcock villains. But I'm going to give an EVER SO SLIGHT edge to Young Charlie, for the sole reason that, as much amazing work as Cotten does in the role, Hitch helps him with Uncle Charlie's creepiness much more than he helps Wright (never better) in building Young Charlie's character."

Monday
May152017

Beauty vs Beast: The Maniac From Uncle

Jason from MNPP here using this week's "Beauty vs Beast" to wish one of my favorite actors of Classic Hollywood a happy birthday today - the great Joseph Cotten was born on this day in the year 1905. Cotten got his start on Broadway, where he caught the eye of some fella called Orson Welles - I suppose you can do worse for yourself than have your very first movie in theaters end up being Citizen Kane.

Just two years later Cotten took the job I always identify him with, as "Uncle Charlie" opposite Teresa Wright as his niece (also named Charlie, cuz doubling) in Alfred Hitchcock's Shadow of a Doubt. Hitch considered this his greatest film and I'd rank it up there (although "greatest" is a bit much when everything he made between 1954 and 1963 is sitting there) and mainly due to Cotten's subtly deranged work. Wright is also wonderful though - her best work, I think, by far. So where oh where does the Merry Widow's Waltz stop...

PREVIOUSLY Speaking of waltzes we danced the week away with Fred & Ginger for last week's hoe-down, and y'all decided that backwards in heels was your winner, giving Miss Rogers an eight point toe up over her competition. Said Claran (and I'm surprised there wasn't more of this):

"This is CRUEL!!! I propose a tie, since Top Hat wld not hav been so successful w/o their magical chemistry together. As indv performers, they r not so memorable, but as a team, they are certainly on TOP. "

Wednesday
Aug072013

Hit Me With Your Best Shot: Shadow of a Doubt (1943)

While we're on the subject of Alfred Hitchcock, having just discussed the most memorable performances in his films, we thought we'd look at Hitchcock's own favorite Shadow of a Doubt (1943) for this week's Hit Me With Your Best Shot. I wasn't surprised that the film failed to score in that list we just made, if only because the whole cast is so memorable. How do you choose amongst them? What's more, the subject of the film is, if you ask me, not the gruesome crimes that are continually referenced but the family unit itself. How protective and proud of one's own blood should you be? How do you preserve the family's happy cohesion, whether real or imagined? What to do about the rotten apple in the bushel? 

Since Shadow of a Doubt (1943) is strangely underseen given Hitchcock's own love of it and the endurance of so many of his films, I don't want to spoil any of its surprises (the writing was Oscar nominated and deservedly so). But I will say that the surprises do not include the nature of Uncle Charlie (Joseph Cotten). He's bad news.

But how bad?

That's up to his family to gaily ignore or vaguely worry over and for his favorite niece and namesake (Teresa Wright) to puzzle out. Shadow of a Doubt has several delicious shots that are case studies in Hitchcock's mastery of visual storytelling and his glorious understanding of the power of shot variation (which is, if you ask me, the single element of filmmaking with the greatest depreciation in quality over my lifetime). I'm absolutely crazy about the way he shoots the growing conflict between the niece and her uncle... which you think will play out like cat and mouse but is closer to cat and kitten in its visual language since Young Charlie is no scurrying fool but a resourceful creature. My favorite shot is one that should be welcoming, but plays out with just as much potency as a disturbingly intense closeup of Uncle Charlie earlier in the film during a particularly nasty monologue.

Uncle Charlie is merely standing on the porch this time. Young Charlie would "like to pretend the whole dreadful thing never happened" but she knows that her "typical American family" home is no longer a sweet or safe one. 

Other Best Shot Choices...

Cal Roth on Hitchcock's repetitive "truth reveal" shot
Film Actually likes the fourth wall broken and Cotten's intriguing performativity
The Entertainment Junkie loves the camera's retreat from Teresa in the library
Antagony & Ecstacy puts a ring on it. It's one of his favorite Hitchcocks.
The Film's The Thing there's evil right beside you!
And...
We Recycle Movies cheats by never getting past the opening credits! 

NEXT WEDNESDAY: The Color Purple (1985). Won't you sing 'Miss Celie's Blues' for us by selecting your "best shot" from that Spielberg hit?

Wednesday
Jul312013

Hitchcock & Oprah on 'Hit Me With Your Best Shot'

Three great (?) movies by three renowned directors (Alfred Hitchcock, Steven Spielberg and Vincente Minnelli) are next on Hit Me With Your Best Shot

We didn't mean to take two weeks off (whoops) but here we go again. If you've never participated please consider joining. It's easy and fun and gives you an excuse to watch a classic again or for the first time. On Wednesday nights we look at a famous (or interesting) movie and we each select "the best shot", completely subjective of course, from the film. Tell us why you chose it and we link up. It's communal movie fun!

Wed Aug 7th SHADOW OF A DOUBT (1943)
It doesn't have the highest profile among Hitchcock's classics so let's boost that up a bit since the Master himself was so fond of it among his own movies and Stoker, now on DVD, riffs on it so shamelessly.
[108 minutes, 1 Oscar nomination. Available on Amazon Instant]

Wed Aug 14th THE COLOR PURPLE (1985)
Let's celebrate the return of Oprah Winfrey to the big screen (in Lee Daniel's The Butler) with a look back at this beloved 80s film. I haven't seen it since the 80s and other people adore it so much more than I that I thought now was the time to give it another chance.
[154 minutes, 11 Oscar nominations]

Wed Aug 21st  THE BAD AND THE BEAUTIFUL (1952) winner of 5 Oscars including Cinematography. We're watching it for the return of the Supporting Actress Smackdown on August 28th and plus, Nathaniel (c'est moi) loves Vincent Minnelli movies. Yes, the Smackdown is coming back.
[118 minutes, 6 Oscar nominations.]

After The Bad and the Beautiful we'll wrap up this Best Shot season with one or two more pictures depending on how many of you are participating and where the excitement level is. What should we close with? Let's do a boy appeal movie since I'm often choosing women's pictures. I can't help myself!