There’s no doubt: Shadow of a Doubt (1943) was director Alfred Hitchcock’s favorite of his own films. I was surprised to learn this; I would have assumed it was North by Northwest (1959) because Cary Grant was his favorite actor to work with. But Hitchcock confirmed that Shadow of a Doubt was his favorite in an interview with talk show host Dick Cavett in 1972. But why was this film Hitchcock’s favorite? Hitchcock’s daughter, Pat, said, “this was my father’s favorite movie because he loved the thought of bringing menace into a small town” in the documentary Beyond Doubt: The Making of Hitchcock’s Favorite Film (2000). The film also held sentimental value for Hitchcock, as he injected many personal touches and also enlisted the help of his wife to write the screenplay.
Author: Bridget Foster Reed
Lynn, my grandmother, rescued a gray and white kitten from the docks of the Lewes Bay, subsequently naming her “Lewie.” I remember meeting Lewie; she was gently bundled up like a Danish. She unhinged her fangs and let out a giant hiss. In reality she probably sounded like a tire with a pinhole of a leak but I was ten and rather offended that this little teacup of a creature greeted me with such chagrin. Lewie drained the reservoirs of my cereal milk, in particular my Banana Nut Crunch cereal. My grandparents had all of the quintessential “old people” cereals to choose from. In short, Lewie vexed me.
Yes, yes I’ll confess. I’m a dog person. Bear, who resided at the same condo as that dynamite cat, was an instantly lovable blub. Bear tried to steal my pistachios as I sat on a tartan chair straight out of an Orvis catalogue. I thought it was precious, never malicious. I asked for a dog every year until my parents got me a…used rabbit. I would walk Snowflake the rabbit around the neighborhood.
My sophomore year I’m sitting a few rows back to the far left in my Development of Western Civilization class, the hallmark requirement of an undergraduate degree at Providence College. Professor O’Malley, entrusted with the topic of World War I, asks the sleepy room of students, “Just muster a guess, when do you think the film Paths of Glory was released? Just a wild guess…” My hand shot up like Hermione Granger. As I finally came into O’Malley’s peripheral he called on me. “1957”, I said. O’Malley stepped back and put his hand on the podium in disbelief.
I believe there was a monument missing on my recent trip to the glorious ancient city of Rome: a great orator statue of the Orson Welles. Yes, a bronze cast of the bearded bard with a benevolent grin and his right arm would be purposefully lifted in the air. Many ancient Roman rulers, such as Marcus Aurelius, requested the sculptor to depict their right arm raised on their propaganda statues as the symbol of a great orator who has the approval of the people. Orson Welles won over audiences early on in his storied career as the booming voice on the radio programs March of Time (1935) and The Mercury Theatre on Air (1938). His mastery of storytelling achieved celebrity status, which was uncommon at the time for radio personalities.
On November 14, 1941, an enemy German torpedo destroyed the Royal Navy aircraft carrier, HMS Ark Royal (91). In America, British director and producer Alfred Hitchcock, and the British-starring cast of Cary Grant, Joan Fontaine, Nigel Bruce, Cedric Hardwicke and Dame May Whitty attended the premiere of their film SUSPICION. For a film filled to the brim with all things British (cast, director, producer, author, setting) those involved would prefer to present a triumphant Britain in the midst of World War II. American audiences, eleven days before Thanksgiving, were not skipping to the cinema with their families to see something saddening.
Picture Vito Corleone wearing a lumpy sweater with crumbs from his stale breakfast lobster claw pastry littered throughout the poorly stitched threads. He stands up from his chair and a cloud of powdered sugar fills the air. He wipes the excess orange juice from his lip (foreshadowing?) and hits you with a threatening message. You would laugh your way out of his office.
What would you do for a Klondike bar? My answer, not much I don’t think they’re that great. It’s safe to say you’ve pondered that goofy question at least once. It represents the silliest of human quandaries but still a significant one. What would Jesus do? Now we’re in the territory of morality and attempting to emulate an unknown high power, if that is what you believe in.
As silly as it is, the earliest memory I can recall of having complete control over my environment is making a diorama. A masterful wash of pride came over me as I stared down at my kingdom constructed of a shoebox, cheap tempera paint, and model magic clay. I guess you could call it an early existential crisis.
“Nostalgia” originates from the Greek “nostos” (return home) and “algos” (pain). This February, my grandfather passed away. As he began to slip away, he swiftly grasped at the air with his hands. I asked him what he was reaching for, and he said he was ready to go home. Naturally, we all assumed he was making a grand proclamation that he was about to ascend into heaven. He clarified that he was reaching for his keys and as he struggled to get up he restated, “I want to go home to 101”. 101 Edgehill Road is the address my grandfather resided in for over 50 years and is the home that he entrusted to my care. His determination to return to 101 was quite remarkable and utterly surreal.
I’m going to hit you with some stats. The Disney juggernaut FROZEN (2013) skated jubilantly to the bank with a $67 million dollar gross on opening weekend. Bill Plympton’s independent animated feature CHEATIN’ (2014) made $5,293 on its opening weekend. Obviously, these numbers aren’t a surprise given the odds stacked against CHEATIN’. FROZEN had a budget of $150 million backed by one of the most influential studios in the world, while CHEATIN’ made a plea to the masses on Kickstarter to raise the $75,000 necessary to do something artistically revolutionary. Another vital distinction is that Bill Plympton animated this film himself. The film consists of over 40,000 drawings hand-painted by only eight artists. FROZEN had 166 animators feverishly developing a winter wonderland that would make Bing Crosby croon. FROZEN also falls into the predictable practice of trying to cram as many A-list celebrities onto their promotional poster as possible. Plympton, on the other hand, opted out of having a cast in his film. As David Puddy would say, “Yeah that’s right”. No cast. No voices.