Shadow of a Doubt (1943)

Shadow of a Doubt poster

It doesn’t have huge stars or an immediate sense of a masterpiece. However the influence of the Gothic and what would come to be called film noir is all over this skewed tale of Americana made in 1942, directly after the United States entered World War 2.  Hitchcock was finally in the process of settling down and buying property, and he was making a film on location in a small Californian town, the epitome of Andy Hardy-ness.  Until Uncle Charlie (Joseph Cotten) comes to town and his namesake niece (Teresa Wright) begins to suspect that there’s a serial killer of wealthy widows in their midst … The constant sense of threat, the overwhelming fear that something bad will happen, is built into every scintilla of the film’s design.  Our sympathy for Uncle Charlie is cunningly transferred to his niece as his psychopathy is revealed.  Long thought to be the maestro’s favourite film (he demurred when asked to confirm) this was Hitchcock’s earliest sign of an interest in the double, a preoccupation that would herald Strangers on a Train, Vertigo, and the noirest noir of them all – Psycho. I have written a book about this film and you can get it here:

The Girl Who Knew Too Much: Shadow of a Doubt (1943) by [Lennon, Elaine]

Clueless (1995)

Clueless poster.jpgClueless cast

It started as a proposal for a TV pilot, then became a hit movie, then became a TV series. The 1995 film written and directed by Amy Heckerling is a work of such unadulterated charm as to be a rare animal in the Hollywood genus. A Beverly Hills high school reworking of Jane Austen’s Emma, that well-meaning if slightly gormless (but innately intelligent) do-gooder heroine, reinvented as Cher Horowitz, this sweet comedy became an unexpected crowd-pleaser and its dialect entered the modern language.  Alicia Silverstone was a lucky find as Cher:  she is a sheer delight in the role which is silly and sincere and serious in equal measure. It was 20 years ago that it first hit our screens.  It has never left our hearts. As if.