Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBBB.
USA, 1943. Universal Pictures. Story by Gordon McDonell, Screenplay by Thornton Wilder, Sally Benson, Alma Reville. Cinematography by Joseph A. Valentine. Produced by Jack H. Skirball. Music by Dimitri Tiomkin. Production Design by John B. Goodman. Costume Design by Vera West. Film Editing by Milton Carruth. Academy Awards 1943.
Hitchcock later said that this was his favourite of all the films he ever made, and you can see why. The story, about a naive schoolgirl (Teresa Wright, in her best performance ever) who comes to realize that her beloved uncle (Joseph Cotten) is a serial killer who bumps off rich widows for their cash, is a perfect skewering of the Middle American small town mentality that he was up against the entire time he was making films in Hollywood. Patricia Collinge and Henry Travers are also terrific as Wright’s progressive parents, who have raised their children to be educated and sharp; now they are starting to wonder that maybe their daughter is being badly affected by her overactive imagination when she starts to voice her suspicions about their visiting relative. Cotten is himself at his most diabolical, as electrifying as he is smooth when dealing with the charming lassies. Brilliantly directed and featuring one of the best screenplays Hitch ever came in contact with, this is a great place to start your collection of the master’s finest works.