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A teenage girl discovers that her beloved uncle may be a serial killer in Hitchcock's deliciously dark vision of small-town America.
Hitchcock referred to Shadow of a Doubt as perhaps his finest film, and it is certainly one of his most pointed and acidulous visions of his adopted country. Derived from an original screenplay by Our Town author Thornton Wilder and filmed and set in Santa Rosa, California, Shadow of a Doubt focuses on precocious teenager Charlotte "Charlie" Newton (Teresa Wright), who longs for the excitement sorely missing from her sleepy hometown. Charlie is thrilled when she hears that her Uncle Charlie (Joseph Cotton), for whom she was named, will be returning from his travels to stay with the family — and when she discovers that her uncle could be the serial killer known as the "Merry Widow Murderer," she is forced to confront how deeply her loyalty (or attraction?) to her beloved uncle goes. A deliciously dark inversion of the placid, Rockwellian vision of small-town America, Shadow of a Doubt is "Hitchcock's first indisputable masterpiece [and] one of his most harrowing films, a peek behind the facade of security that reveals loneliness, despair, and death. . . . it's Our Town turned inside out" (Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader).