St. Petersburg Times (26/Apr/1991) - Shadow Darkens the Dial
- article: Shadow Darkens the Dial
- author(s): Janis D. Froelich
- newspaper: St. Petersburg Times (26/Apr/1991)
- keywords: Alfred Hitchcock, Shadow of a Doubt (1943), Shadow of a Doubt (1991), Thornton Wilder
Shadow Darkens the Dial
Message to Hallmark Hall of Fame, the house of cards that brings some fine TV productions to our living rooms: You shouldn't have monkeyed with Shadow of a Doubt. Thornton Wilder wrote the original screenplay for Alfred Hitchcock's 1943 classic, and it doesn't get any better than that.
The remake airs Sunday at 9 p.m., locally on WTVT-Ch. 13. But it's a given that the glossy greeting card commercials will be better received.
This is a nasty story, but it's reworked with too much politeness. Mark Harmon is simply not frightful enough as Charlie, a favorite uncle who comes to visit his sister's family in a small California town. He's actually on the run from police, who know him as the Merry Widow murderer.
This latest version is more like a teen fantasy instead of a thriller because Charlie's niece and namesake (Margaret Welsh) handles the action with spunk.
Charlie's sister Emma is played by Diane Ladd, and it's a treat to see what she does with her not-too-bright, but well-meaning housewife role.
But Shadow of a Doubt fails to grab you right away even with the rhythm of a small town. It's supposed to be a compelling story about ordinary people caught up in extraordinary circumstances. Instead, the Hallmark version is like a post card from Dullsville, postage due.