the potency of her own sexuality



Film Shadow of a Doubt was Alfred Hitchcock’s own favourites because it captured exactly what he was repeatedly trying to do in cinema, bring strangeness to the familiar. A long lost uncle, Joseph Cotton, returns to his family who, with the exception of the eldest daughter (played with an almost pathological level of golly-gee by Teresa Wright), are oblivious to the fact that he's essentially a serial killer, marrying widows for their money before bumping them off to claim the inheritance.

Hitch is back to his genre games here and I think he was more aware of it than in Foreign Correspondent particularly in the use of photography (created by Joseph A. Valentine who previously worked on Saboteur). Cotton is a figure straight from noir territory bringing his dark presence to the quintessential 1940s small town America of Frank Capra. When the family meet him at the station, the platform is bathed in sunlight until the train pulls in bringing with it a shadow that hints at the darkness to some.

As the initially innocent Wright, understands the situation she's be thrust into and the potency of her own sexuality, its almost as though this noirish cinematography of Cotton is spreading like a virus which everyone but Wright is immune to. Often it seems to change in the same scene from the sweetness of her younger siblings to her own troubled shoulders, a constant reminder that she alone has the ability to protect her family, Hitch demonstrating how little would be required to unpick the fabric of this mini society.

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