One of Hitchcock’s better movies, Shadow of a Doubt is set in sunny California (a rather cheerful setting for Alfred Hitchcock). It was made in 1943, smack dab in the middle of WWII. Teenaged Charlie is starting to be bored by her family and her life. Nothing interesting ever happens to her. Luckily, her favorite uncle Charlie comes to visit.
One evening Uncle Charlie ruins father’s newspaper, and Young Charlie begins to suspect something is wrong when he won’t give it back. (We the audience know that Charlie does have something to hide, but we don’t know the severity or the validity of it.) The story and the suspicion unfolds in such a tense, satisfying way, that I can’t bring myself to reveal anything else about the story. Suffice it to say that Shadow of a Doubt is a great nail-biter, right up through the end.
On a side note, I found the backdrop of California in 1943 to be a serendipitous look at life (or how the movies viewed life) in that place and time. The houses look “big” and brand new. People are seemingly prosperous. The streets are crowded and the traffic cop knows everybody’s name. Except for the shadow of a doubt about Charlie’s secret, it is a golden age. That’s something you might not expect in a Hitchcock movie.