Dear Joseph Cotten and Teresa Wright,

Well, if you two don’t make the creepiest uncle-niece pair ever conceived in your portrayal of Uncle Charlie and Charlie (Charlotte) in Shadow of a Doubt. Obviously, since this is one of Hitchcock’s undisputed masterpieces, there’s much more to your on-screen relationship than is initially apparent. As far as I can tell, the two Charlies, whose interactions are central to the plot of the film, interact on three different levels. On each of these levels, Charlie’s feelings towards her uncle are representative of the audience’s perspective.

  • [Spoiler alert] Like her mother, Charlie idolizes her uncle and desperately wants to be like him. Her ideals are shattered when she discovers that his cheery, loving nature is a sham. Even after Charlie confirms her suspicions, she hopes against hope (like the audience) that the Merry Widow Murderer really was that guy on the east coast. Charlie wants to save her uncle up till the very end.
  • Charlie thinks of her uncle as an extension of herself. She says it herself when she tells him that they are, in a way, twins, because she was named after him. Uncle Charlie is likable, and since he’s a member of the “all-American family,” as represented by the Newtons, he could be anyone’s uncle or brother or twin.
  • The Charlies are attracted in a romantic way, as in an emotionally abusive marriage, which was symbolically sealed with an emerald ring. What at first seemed to be an extravagant present turns out to be a curse when the ring confirms Charlie’s suspicions regarding her uncle. The two Charlies function in a symbiotic relationship born of love that ultimately continues with each warily watching the other with doubt.

Your chemistry together perfectly conveyed the depth and development of your relationship on these and other levels. Teresa, your character grows up before the viewers’ eyes, with an undeniable understanding of their hearts. Joe, you imbue Uncle Charlie with an irresistible allure, made all the more seductive by your shadowy undertones. Your relationship is essential to capturing Hitch’s genius in this film.

Good night, Mun

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