In Shadow of a Doubt, Hitchcock utilizes and stretches the ambiguous line between comedy and suspense by utilizing smaller characters in the film to keep the story line moving, and to help break sequence or rhythm of what the audience had been perceiving at the time. Many of the minor characters were used as “fillers”, such as the waitress in the bar when Uncle Charlie and Charlie are sitting in the bar, and makes the comment “I would die for a ring like this”; or the quiet, gentle neighbor Herb who is fascinated with the process of homicide and murder. It brings to the audience an immediate comic relief, but similar to all of Hitchcock, leaves an unsettling feeling of fear and suspense with the viewer. Shadow of a Doubt is a film that hits very close to home for me, primarily because of the small town feel very similar to Orono that I have grown to know so well. There is a brutal irony that lurks through the film, especially during the time period that the film was made. The picturesque stereotype of small town life in the 40’s is brutally torn apart by Hitchcock wit and creative ingénue, putting the viewer in an uncomfortable mind stretch of reality.
The first instance of ambiguity between comedy/drama begins directly at the beginning credits of the film, with the brilliant shot of a uniform waltzing party, in carousel motion, or a perfect circle. From my perspective, I was unable to recognize what Hitchcock was trying to present, but I found it amusing that he would use waltzing in the beginning of the film, primarily for the reason that waltzing is a social function, used in celebration traditionally. But in keeping in theme with the waltz, it is also a dance that has strategically placed steps and movements that every good dancer knows, and cherishes. It sets up the mood immediately for the audience subconsciously that everything is in strict moral uniformity and cleanliness, what a small town should be: precise, well groomed, and normal, keeping in trend with the such prevalent Hitchcockian irony.