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Sunday, March 26, 2006


Shadow Of A Doubt Oddities

Who says the world is a foul sty? Uncle Charlie’s been ripping the fronts off houses, and what did he find? Not swine, but a refreshing Pepsi Cola, which he shares here with an admiring Young Charlie. Since they’re mirror images anyway, and share all the guilt over those Merry Widow murders (not forgetting that unspoken, beneath-the-surface incestuous attraction the Hitchcock books talk about), it’s a cinch they’d both have a taste for that bracing cola flavor, particularly after an exhausting day pushing each other around a mock-up train and falling into process screens. What’s a serial killer to do when he can’t charm his niece with rings taken off the corpses of his latest victims? He just says Pepsi, Please! and all’s forgiven.

Honestly, you have to feel a little sorry for the publicity department at Universal this time. Just how do we sell this Shadow Of A Doubt anyway? I know --- shadows! We’ll put em’ everywhere! So what if people become disoriented in a theatre lobby tricked out with floor level lighting and patron’s shadows projected twenty feet high on the opposite wall. No less problematic was the idea of putting actors in store windows and having them stage various acts of mayhem for passerbys. Would the performers be obliged to repeat the same gag ad nauseum throughout the evening and into the night? Do bear in mind that all this took place
years before Hitchcock
took an active role in the selling of his movies. He’d have never permitted stunts as lame as these. By the 1950’s, he’d apply the same creativity with publicity campaigns that he brought to bear on the films themselves. Ever see the Psycho trailer? Hitchcock personally supervised the roll-out for everything with his name on it. He could have retired from directing at any time and successfully taken over the publicity department of any studio in town, and probably done a better job than any one hundred flacks in residence there. Fortunately for Universal, the innate qualities of Shadow Of A Doubt allowed it to succeed despite the efforts of their sales division.



My good friend Lou Sabini met Teresa Wright quite by chance one day about four years ago. He’d been teaching a film class in Stamford, Connecticut when one of his students mentioned that she was next-door neighbors with Teresa. The lady told Lou that Miss Wright (then in her eighties) favored a bright blue baseball cap, which she always wore when she went out. He made a mental note of that and went on with the class, which coincidentally, included a showing of Shadow Of A Doubt. A few months later, Lou was at his job with Sleep, Etc., a furniture store in Norwalk, CT., when an elderly woman entered the store to look at some beds. When he approached her to lend an assist, Lou recognized Teresa Wright immediately. Sure enough, she was wearing the baseball cap, but she also had that crooked eyebrow he remembered from all her movies. This was the real tip-off (see the photo of Teresa with the candle… and the eyebrow). After a moment or two of conversation, she introduced herself as "Teresa", and Lou responded with "Yes, I know, Teresa Wright." According to him, she was taken aback, but pleased to learn he was a film collector and teacher. They ended up talking awhile, and Lou says she was great. Just think, one minute you’re selling furniture on a slow day, and the next you’re hanging out with one of your all-time favorite actresses --- the star of The Best Years Of Our Lives, Pursued, The Little Foxes, Shadow Of A Doubt … well, that’s some kinda thrill, we think. Thanks Lou, for a great memory!

1 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh boy, this advertising is hilarious! And so's your commentary - thanks for sharing!

Christine

3:36 AM  

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