All that, for what?

 In A thought, film, Reviews, Writing

After a brief discussion with KRH about Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt, and an essay I wrote about Rear Window, I think I figured out why I didn’t really love the film.

Here’s an excerpt from my essay (WARNING: highly unpopular opinion & SPOILERS ahead).

I did not, however, think it was one of Hitchcock’s best works. Although I really enjoy watching the films that he created to challenge himself (like this one), and I find it interesting to see how he handled the parameters he set forth, I didn’t think there was enough of a reward at the end. The suspense that he creates throughout the film seems to be for nothing. We were wondering, along with Jeff, if the man across the courtyard was a murderer for nearly the entire movie, and then he was. What’s the fun in that? Although it would be a completely different movie (boring) if Thorwald ended up being the innocent man in the equation, it would at least provide some sort of twist.

I realize that saying this mimics a lot of what I had to say about Suspicion’s ending (and how I didn’t mind that the husband didn’t end up being a killer), but at least my reasoning is consistent. The ending I thought was sufficient in Suspicion, many view as a rip-off, while the ending many enjoy for Rear Window, is one I’m rather unexcited about.

For me, Shadow of a Doubt is very similar to Rear Window in this aspect. Just like Suspicion, we are nervous about the intentions of a potentially murderous character. Of course each of these three films has a different purpose, but Suspicion is the only one that ends with an answer you weren’t thinking of. The other two films create a lot of build-up about something that ends up being true. It feels like something is missing, and like I was cheated out of a climax. So, although Suspicion’s ending is highly contested and not how the film was meant to end, I prefer it over Rear Window’s. My favorite Hitchcock films are ones that show me something I didn’t see coming. The whole point of suspense is to make me feel like I don’t know what’s going to happen, so I feel that knowing who the killer is for most of the movie is a strange strategy for the master of suspense. In the end, however, I cannot deny that Alfred Hitchcock is in many ways a master of his craft, and Rear Window is one of those masterpieces.

Like Rear Window, Shadow of a Doubt has a lot of brilliant aspects to it that make it a well conceived film with much attention to detail and development. I still don’t think it’s his best work, though.

Recommended Posts
Contact Us

We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.

Not readable? Change text. captcha txt