Shadow of a Doubt on VICE: written contributions on Hitchcock’s first masterpiece

SOAD-still03SHADOW OF A DOUBT (Alfred Hitchcock, 1943). Tuesday, April 29 at 9:30pm. Archival 35mm. Get Tickets!

If you can believe it, our yearlong program of VICE Presents: The Film Foundation Screening Series concludes this Tuesday with our screening of Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpiece, Shadow of a Doubt. As we have done throughout the series, we have a few fantastic essays for the evening’s program. Check out this excerpt from one of our program text contributors, William Rothman (author of Hitchcock: The Murderous Gaze and Must We Kill the Thing We Love?: Emersonian Perfectionism and the Films of Alfred Hitchcock). 

Hitchcock was profoundly attracted to the moral outlook—rooted in the American Transcendentalism of Emerson and Thoreau—that enabled the Hollywood movies of the New Deal era to achieve their rare combination of popularity and seriousness. The 39 Steps followed the lead of It Happened One Night, the monster hit that marked 1934 as the beginning of the period when the Emersonian worldview was ascendant in Hollywood, by concluding with the union of a man and woman that holds a hope of being a relationship worth having. In turn, the brilliant thrillers Hitchcock made in the few years remaining before his departure for Hollywood followed the lead of The 39 Steps by aligning Hitchcock thrillers with American romantic comedies—but only up to a point. Hitchcock found himself unwilling or unable to abandon himself to the genre’s Emersonian outlook, which was already beginning to suffer repression in Hollywood—as in the nation at large—by the time David O. Selznick lured him to America. For Hitchcock was no less powerfully drawn to an incompatible vision. He never tired of quoting Oscar Wilde’s line, “Each man kills the thing he loves.”

Read the rest of Rothman and others essays on Hitchock’s Shadow of a Doubt on vice.com.