Shadow of a Doubt appears in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. While a lot of the image looked good, some negatives came along for the ride.
My biggest concerns stemmed from print flaws, as I noticed specks, spots, lines, nicks, hairs and blotches. Most of these manifested themselves in the movie’s first act, so the image managed to clean up as it progressed.
However, bouts of defects still appeared; for instance, the scene in the bank manager’s office delivered blotches. At no point did the flaws become dominant, but they were heavier than I would’ve liked – and that I expected after the clean Saboteur.
Sharpness was good most of the time. A smidgen of softness appeared on a couple of brief occasions, but those instances were minor. Most of the time the flick came across as well-defined and distinctive. No problems with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and only a little edge enhancement appeared.
Blacks looked nicely dark and tight, and shadows were good. None of the film’s low-light shots suffered from excessive opacity, so those scenes appeared smooth and clear. The print flaws knocked down my grade to a “B-“, which was a shame, as the rest of the presentation looked nice.
I thought the monaural soundtrack of Doubt was decent. Speech showed a little edginess and usually seemed thin. Nonetheless, the lines offered good intelligibility across the board.
Music seemed average, as the score and songs were somewhat shrill. They generally seemed acceptable given their age, though, and the harshness in the upper register wasn’t too intrusive.
Effects seemed tinny and without heft, but that was expected. A little hiss and background noise accompanied the mix. This was an unspectacular but acceptable piece of audio for a movie from 1943.
How does the Blu-ray compare to the prior 2005 DVD? Audio appeared to be very similar, as I thought the Blu-ray came with the same strengths and weaknesses. Visuals marked an improvement, though. Even with the print flaws, the Blu-ray was a bit cleaner, and it showed stronger definition and clarity.
The Blu-ray duplicates most of the extras from the DVD, and the major component comes from a documentary called Beyond Doubt: The Making of Hitchcock’s Favorite Film. This 34-minute and 48-second shot provides notes from director’s daughter Pat Hitchcock O’Connell, filmmaker Peter Bogdanovich, associate art director Robert Boyle, and actors Teresa Wright and Hume Cronyn.
We hear about the script’s genesis and development, cast and performances, Hitchcock’s style as director and visual choices, sets and shooting in Santa Rosa, some psychological and storytelling elements, and thoughts about the final product.
Documentaries for older movies can find it tough to discuss these productions since so many participants have dird. That hampers “Beyond” to a minor degree, especially since it includes no film historians other than Bogdanovich.
Nonetheless, the show still manages to cover its subject well. It comes with some interesting tales – especially about Cronyn’s casting – and both entertains and informs.
In addition to the movie’s trailer, we get some stillframe bits. Under Production Drawings, we see 32 sketches by art director Robert Boyle. These show various sets and elements of the film; they range into storyboard territory at times but more often seem like conceptual pieces.
Production Photographs includes 51 stills. These provide a nice mix of advertisements, publicity shots, and behind the scenes pictures.
Apparently Alfred Hitchcock found Shadow of a Doubt to be his favorite of all the flicks he directed. I don’t think quite so highly of it, but I like it nonetheless. A quiet, brooding piece, it becomes a real winner. The Blu-ray provides generally positive visuals, adequate audio and a smattering of interesting bonus materials. I’d like to see the movie get a cleaner transfer, but it still offered a mostly good reproduction of a fine film.
To rate this film, visit the original review of SHADOW OF A DOUBT