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Shadow of a Doubt (1943) - quotes

Quotations relating to Shadow of a Doubt (1943)...


This was my father's favourite movie, because he loved the thought of bringing menace into a small town. I remember my father and Thornton Wilder and my mother working together on the movie. The original idea was brought to him by Gordon McDonell, who was married to Margaret McDonell, who worked at Selznick. After Thornton Wilder left to join the army, my father brought in Sally Benson, who had just written a play in New York called "Junior Miss", which was a big hit. Then he and Sally Benson and my mother worked on the screenplay. It's one of my favourites because I loved all the people in it. I thought it was very well cast, right down to the last person.

Hitchcock was very interested in good food and wine. He had been up in that area, there in the Napa Valley, checking out the wine lists of the country. So I think Santa Rosa was an area that he knew. Today it's a large city, really. It's big now. But in those days it was a sleepy little village with a courthouse, a library. The library doesn't exist any more. I think the courthouse is now a modern building.

But this was an old-fashioned town. It was the kind of a town that didn't say where it was. It was American. It could have been in the middle West. It could even have been in the East. In those days it spelled America more than any town, and I think that appealed to Hitch, who hadn't been in America very long. He was now interested in exploring it and trying to get the essence of American life, small-town, innocent life. The innocent America. Santa Rosa seemed to be a big contrast to the New Jersey rooming house.

Robert F. Boyle (2000)


I'd come out to California to do "The Little Foxes". and I went back to New York to do a play. Then I came back to do "Mrs Miniver" because Billy Wilder had asked me, and by then, Mr Goldwyn had signed me. I did that and then "Pride of the Yankees", almost in a row. I mean, each one lasted almost four months. Then I was married and very caught up in, you know, having my first home and all of that. Then this script came, and, of course, everybody wants to do a Hitchcock film.

I did not read the script. They said, "He wants to tell you the script." So I went and I sat down opposite him at a desk and he proceeded to tell the story. And he told the story like no one else has ever told a story. He used anything on his desk as a prop, whether it was a glass or a pencil or a book, to make a sound, do sound effects. He'd do steps. He'd do anything he could as a storyteller to lure you into his story. And he told that story so beautifully that I was just absolutely mesmerised. And when I finally saw the film, I said, "I've seen this film. I saw it in his office." And I really meant it.

Teresa Wright (2000)

I went out to California and I was shown into a big waiting room at Universal. I was sitting there waiting, and then the producer of that film, Jack Skirball, came walking through this crowded room, spotted me, came over and said, "Is your name Cronyn?" I said, "Yes," and he said, "Oh, dear. I'm so sorry. I think we've brought you here under false illusions. You are much too young. However, you're here, so you'd better meet Mr Hitchcock."

And eventually I was shown into the presence, and there sat Hitch, all 300 pounds of him. He was at his very heaviest then. He had his hands tucked under his armpits like that with his thumbs straight up, I remember that. He started right in by saying, "Have you been in Sonoma County?" And I said, "No, sir." He said, "Well, it's in Northern California. It's the heart of the wine-growing district. At the end of the shooting each day, we will walk out into the vineyards, we will seize the bunches of grapes, and we will squeeze the juice down our throats."

Then he went on to say, "We'll mess around with make-up, put grey in your hair. Maybe you should wear glasses." Then he said, "What are you going to do? Are you going to stay in California, or are you going back to New York?" "What?" There was no talk about my being too young, no talk about yes or no, no maybes or "We'll let you know". It seemed that I had this part. Sure enough, I did.

Hume Cronyn (2000)

Joseph Cotten, who played Uncle Charlie in the movie, was a very close friend of my parents. I had an enormous crush on him. I just adored him. I was 17. I still adored him. He and his wife were very close friends of my mother and father, so they found it very easy working together.

Patricia Collinge's name in the movie was "Emma", which was my father's mother's name. She passed away, actually, in the middle of the movie. I would say her portrayal is the opposite of my father's mother. He never brought personal things into movies. This is what everybody doesn't realise. Everything came from his imagination. It was not, "Oh, I'll make her like so-and-so." He didn't do that. It was his imagination.

Actually, the young girl, I coached her. She had never done anything before in her life, so I did coaching for her. I was up there the whole time they were shooting all the exteriors.

Patricia talking about the young actress Edna May Wonacott

The Production Process

And they found this wonderful, old house, that was just a little run-down, which is exactly what they wanted because the family was not wealthy or anything. So they made the deal, and when they went up there they found that the people were so excited that they'd used their house they'd painted the whole house. So they had to dirty it down again. But then they did fix it up for them.

In this case, he enjoyed the location, which he never did, partly because of the cast he had. He got along so well with everybody. So the location work on this was really a very happy time. I remember they had a gin rummy tournament on the picture and they wanted my father to play. He says, "I've never played gin rummy," so they taught him how to play and he won the whole tournament!

This was the first film that I went on location on. It was not done a lot then, and it made a tremendous difference. There's no doubt that coming in real doorways and opening real windows is better than being on a set.

The idea was to do the entire film up there [in Santa Rosa], and we did the entire film up there. Then, unfortunately, some things had to be re-done on a set. So then, after having done it economically, I'm sure, up there, they then had to spend the money to build a like set in Hollywood.

Teresa Wright (2000)

It was a family picture, about a family, and we were with the Hitchcocks, who were a family. Alma was right there all the time and Hitchcock would constantly defer to her about certain scenes, the script. And it was so wonderful to have Patty, who was very bright, playing cards, gin rummy.

Teresa Wright (2000)

I remember the crowds who came to watch the shooting and how very well behaved they were. Uh, I mean, when the assistant director shouted, "Quiet", it was quiet. I remember, one incident, we were shooting out on the street somewhere or other, and this was all absolutely new to me. A girl of about 12 or 14, something like that, came running up to me with an autograph book and said, "Sign this, please." So I signed my very first autograph as a film actor. And she looked at it and [said]... "Now hurry up and get famous!" I never forgot that.

Teresa Wright (2000)

The interesting thing about "Shadow of a Doubt" is the twins theme, like when she says, "We really are twins. We think things the same." One piece of direction I absolutely do remember, I was just lying on a bed some way or other, having a rest. [Hitchcock] said, "No, I want you to lie there with your hands behind your head." He told me exactly how it was, but he explained why. "Because," he said, "we are going to come from a shot of Uncle Charlie lying on the bed. I want this duplicated." Those kinds of things make it harder for young Charlie and the audience to accept him as anything except this charming uncle of hers.

Teresa Wright (2000)

I had a scene at the dining table with Teresa Wright. She said something to me. I was shocked and offended, and I stood up and stepped back from her. And, uh, Hitch said, um, "That's fine, Hume, but when you stand up don't step back." I'm not about to argue with Mr Hitchcock. We shot the scene and he said, "Cut! Hume, you stepped back again." I said, "I'm sorry, sir, but it feels so uncomfortable." He said, "Alright, then let's shoot it again. You stand up, you step back, and we'll have a comfortable actor with no head." And then he... After we'd got this shot, he said something which was worth remembering. He said, "The camera lies, you know, and when it does, you have to learn to accommodate it."

Hume Cronyn (2000)

Other Quotes about Shadow of a Doubt (1943)

Well, Hitchcock, right from the beginning, his earliest work to the end, seemed to be very concerned about making the villain not a cliché, giving the villain a great deal of character and uniqueness as opposed to, you know, the guy that flicks the moustache. In "Shadow of a Doubt", Hitchcock goes out of his way to give him as much depth as possible. The idea of smoke, or the idea of him taking over. He does seem to take over the home, the family.

His speech at the dinner table, when he talks about women and how life is a sty, Hitchcock definitely gives Cotten his position. He lets the character say what he means and give his position paper, so to speak. "This is how I feel." That speech is very shocking. Even today, you look at it and you say, "Wow, that's pretty strong stuff."

That's one of the things you can characterise about Hitchcock is this kind of empathy for the devil.

I think the interesting thing about "Shadow of a Doubt" is that it was one of the two movies where actually the villain is the hero, as in "Psycho".

The other thing I love about Hitchcock's films is that no matter how serious or how tragic or desperate or scary the film is, it's always mixed up with humour. It's the humour that gives the edge to the horror. The humour makes you feel safe. After having been slightly scared, you feel very safe and you're laughing, and then, bang, there's something there that hits you.

Teresa Wright (2000)

The interesting part, as far as the role I played, is the fact that she starts off as this innocent, and petulant young girl who's just kind of bored with life. "Gee, everybody does the same thing all the time. "Why can't we ever do anything exciting? What we need is Uncle Charlie. Someone gay and wonderful. He'll shake us all up, and mother will be so happy to see him." It was a wonderful chance for a young actress to start off one way, and to change and grow before your eyes to be dealt this terrible problem, which anybody, at any age, would find difficult to solve.

Teresa Wright (2000)

[Emma] doesn't see what's going on. She has a kind of blindness. But she's rather touchingly handled. Your heart breaks for her. She's almost desperate to remember that past, to remember that childhood that was evidently idyllic. Both she and Uncle Charlie have a tendency to glamorise and romanticise the past, which is what those shots of the Merry Widow dancers call to mind, another era, a more romantic period. She's one of the most touching characters in his work. Because she's so crazy about her brother, it makes you feel worse about bringing Cotten down because you feel, "What's that gonna do to the mother? It's gonna be very rough on her."

Bogdanovich talking about the mother, "Emma", played by Patricia Collinge

When we did that scene on the train, I don't believe he... he had it choreographed in his head exactly. He just had us struggle. I had to pull back and put my feet in a certain way and hold on in a certain way. Joe would have to try to push me off in a certain way. And then, after having gotten the master shot, he would come in and do close-ups on wherever our hands and feet were.

Sometimes people say, "Boy, that was a pretty good shove you gave him." It wasn't really that she pushed him, but he was trying to push her, and in resisting him, at one point in the struggle, it just happens that he falls. It was very effective. It was kind of horrifying.

It's really hard to go on with the story after that. You know? You had to end it. You couldn't end with his death, and you didn't want to end with a funeral. So I think the only thing he could do was the scene outside the funeral, and try to say something about life and what his life added up to.

It's an end of innocence for her, because she now cannot only imagine evil, which, she would never have imagined anything that evil before, but she knows it exists and she knew it existed in the one person her mother loved the most. She has to grow up and realise that people can be deeply loved by someone, and yet have something inside them that is so destructive, that they can poison and literally kill people.

Teresa Wright (2000)

This was my father's favourite movie, and it was because he loved bringing the menace into a small town, into a family that had never known any bad things happen to them. They adored this uncle. They just adored him. Yet they had no idea what he is like. The whole suspense of the movie is, "When are they going to find out?"

I think it's one of the most perfect of the Hitchcock pictures. It doesn't depend on star power. It doesn't depend on glamour. Hitch was right. It's a kind of extraordinary and ambiguous character study that is very troubling, because you get into these characters, including the killer.

I knew then that we were embarked on a film that had real content and maybe more importance than some of his others, which were kind of fairy tales, you know. I believe that's one of the reasons why Hitchcock himself considered it probably his best.

[Hitchcock] told a story very, very well, and he told it almost always in visual images. Hitch pretty much had a film made... up here [in his head] before he ever got on the set. In fact, he used to say work on the set, the actual filming was so boring. It was the creative elements and solving challenges that absolutely fascinated him.

Hume Cronyn (2000)

I'm sure, at the time we made this film, we all thought it was wonderful and thought it was a great film. I don't think any of us had an idea it would have such an impact on generations. Some films do get to have a life of their own, and this one has lived a long, long life.

Teresa Wright (2000)