DeMartini1Garrett DeMartiniMcKeeTue 3:00Doppelganger: Shadow of a ProtagonistOne of Hitchcock’s most beloved and well known themes in his films is his fascinationwith doublesand doppelgangers. They always seem to have an important and crucial meaning inthe films he directs. The reason why Hitchcock uses these in his movies so much is becausedoppelgangers represent “strong inner conflict” (Spoto) within the character.The use of doublesreveals a lot about whom and what the characters represent. These doubles give us a sense ofbalance and understanding in the story. We tend to see both sides of the conflict and this gives usa better view of what is going on. Hitchcock wants to show us that there are always two sides toevery story, and yet each side is different and complicated, so in a way they both mirror eachother.In Hitchcock’s TV show, Alfred Hitchcock Presentswe experience an episode directed byhim that reveals the destructive power of the use of doppelgangers. This episode is called TheCase of Mr.Pelham. This episode has been considered one of the best in the entire TV series andheavily relies on the theme of doubles, use of doppelgangers, and identity crisis’s. In this episodean accountant named Albert Pelham (Tom Ewell) is convinced that someone is trying to steal hisidentity by pretending to be him. This deals with the loss of control of a character and how itbegins to mediate another’s life. (McDougal) If he doesn’t find out what is going on, he willsoon find his life spiraling out of control.
DeMartini2Throughout the episode, every time he is gone somewhere, the doppelganger takes hisplace. When he leaves his office to get lunch, the doppelganger replaces him as if he never left.When he comes back, his double does the opposite and leaves. Mr.Pelham catches on to this,however he is too scared to tell anybody because he thinks that they will assume he is crazy.Overtime the doppelganger becomes so intrusive, he begins living at his house. This leadsMr.Pelham to be on the brink of a nervous breakdown. His double always seems to be one stepahead of him. Finally, Mr.Pelham confronts his doppelganger in his own house. In the end thedoppelganger convinces everyone that he in fact is the real Mr.Pelham. The actual Mr.Pelhamgets sent away and the imposter lives out his life as the man whom he stole his identity from.This episode shows the purest form doppelgangers and how it can be used to take oversomeone’s life. Hitchcock brilliantly shows how Mr.Pelham slowly becomes someone he is not.Throughout the episode we see how Pelham, without realizing it, basally giving the imposter hisown life. When the imposter starts using Pelham’s clothes, he goes out and buys a newoutrageous lookingtie that he himself would never wear to throw the imposter off. And when theimposter causes an uproar at the gentlemen’s club, Pelham simply stops going there.We slowly start to see him being forced out of his own life. However it seems that whenthis happens he avoids the confrontation, and simply moves out of the way. This leads to hiseventual downfall. When it finally comes to when the two confront each other Mr. Pelham isnothing like how he used to be. The imposter even asks his servant “Would you ever see me in atie like that?” His servant obviously agrees with the fake Mr. Pelham and the real one loseseverything.
DeMartini3Hitchcock’s use of imagery in this episode is amazing. He makes a clever use of mirrorsfor when the main character walks into his house. We get a great sense of foreshadowing whenwe see him and himself in the reflection. The special effects are pretty amazing as well when wesee Pelham and his imposter come face to face on the same screen, who are played by the sameactor. Hitchcock also wanted to get across that some men are easier to imposter, because of theirbland lifestyle. It seems that Mr. Pelham was victim of this. However his double actually madehim a better person. This shows Hitchcock’s twisted sense of humor and how he toys with hischaracters.Another one of Hitchcock’s works that predominantly uses the theme of doubles anddouble-crossing is his film Strangers on a Train (1951). The film starts off by when two menwho happen to meet by chance on a train. There is Guy (Farley Granger) who is a tennis star andwho wants to start merging into the political arena. And then there is Bruno (Robert Walker)who is a college dropout and avid drinker. While on the train Bruno suggests to Guy that theyshould each kill the person that is causing trouble for each of them in their lives. For Guy it is hisunfaithful wife who he wants to finally divorce so he can be with the girl he really loves. ForBruno it is his father. The two joke about how it would be the perfect murder since they don’tknow each other. Guy thinks it’s all a joke, until Bruno actually kills his soon to be ex-wife.Hitchcock makes it clear to the audience that Guy is good and Bruno is bad. Brunorepresents the evil in people; he drinks, gambles, isn’t productive, and above all thinks of killingpeople. He is the darkness of the human psyche. Guy, however, represents the completeopposite. He wants to be a politician, is on the right course in life, and is in love. These two mencouldn’t be any more different and shouldn’t have anything to do with each other. Except afterBruno strangles Guy’s soon to be ex, the two are intertwined together in an epic downward
DeMartini4spiral. They need each other. Bruno needs Guy to kill his father and Guy needs to prevent Brunofrom telling people that the two had a “murder pact”.The film is filled with the ongoing theme of doubles. For instance, the beginning of thefilm when it focuses on the two men’s shoes as they make their way to the train station. Itcontinually cuts back and forth between the two and gives us a glace on how different those twomen are. The amazing thing is, we haven’t even seen their faces yet. Another interesting doubleis that they swap each other’s murders. Since now they are theoretically working together, itwould be considered a double murder. Even what the characters do seems to be a form ofdoubles. Guy, plays doubles tennis and even on his lighter he has two tennis racquets. Brunoalways orders scotch and plain water and makes it doubles. Hitchcock obviously has is work cutout for him in this film with his relentless use for doubles.He goes even further with his theme of doubles to make the characters double cross eachother. For instance Guy’s wife changes her mind about getting a divorce, hence double crossinghim. She even reveals that she is pregnant with another man’s child, thus double crossing himagain. Or even the fact that Guy never carried out the plan to kill Bruno’s father, thereforedouble crossing him as well. This is truly Hitchcock’s style, because there are so many layers ofhidden meanings to each of the things the characters do.Another one of Hitchcock’s masterpieces is Shadow of a Doubt (1943). The film revolvesaround Charles Oakley (Joseph Cotton) and his niece Charlotte “Charlie” Newton (TeresaWright). Charles Oakley is a murder who marries rich widows and then ends up killing them fortheir money. He is wanted by the cops in Philadelphia, so he leaves and goes to California tovisit his sister’s family and his niece. His niece who also goes by the name Charlie is very
DeMartini5attached to her uncle when he firsts arrives. However, she soon learns of her uncles crimes andfears for herself and family. Everyone seems to loves him, except for her and she must keepwhat she knows a secret. The tension between them grows and he ends up falling off a train in astruggle. Even after his death she keeps his secret from her family.An obvious nod to the theme of doubles would have to be that they are both namedCharlie. However, they are both completely different. Like many of Hitchcock’s otherfilms, oneis evil and the other good. Uncle Charlie kills women for their money and has a negative view ofthe world. He has a horrible stance of women and called them “silly, useless, fat, and greedy”.Charlotte or Charlie represents the innocence of the world and ignorance is bliss mentality ofbeing young. She blindly adores her Uncle Charlie and as to some could suggest that she is inlove with him.“Through Charlie’s transformation from an independent woman to a supportivewife, he theorizes the family as both threatening and a trap. (Sloan, 26) We see her then changeeven more, that she begins to question her surroundings and become truly independent.There are many double shots in this film that give a sense of two worlds colliding. Forinstance at the beginning of the film when we are introduced to the two Charlie’s, it begins witha shot of the cities they both live in. Then it shows identical shots of Charlie and Uncle Charlieboth lying in their respective beds, lying in the exact same position. This obviously representsthat they are in a sense connected, even though they are not in the same room, let alone city orstate. Hitchcock wants to make it obvious to the audience that these two people are almost mirrorimages of each other in terms of character.Hitchcock also has themes of doubles that are harder for the audience to see and are lessnoticeable. There are two scenes at the train station. The first is when Uncle Charlie arrives and
DeMartini6the second is when he is supposed to depart. This also is ironic because in the first visit to thetrain station Uncle Charlie gives Charlie a kiss on the cheek, this represents young Charlie’sinnocence. Then the second time when Uncle Charlie falls off the train, this represents the loss ofCharlie’s innocence.There are also two scenes that take place in the garage of the house. Each of the scenesrepresents defining moments in Charlie’s life. The first is when Detective Jack Graham(Macdonald Carey) talks to Charlie about the widow murder. He then tells Charlie that he lovesher. The two then get stuck in the garage when the door won’t open. This is cleverforeshadowing for the next scene. This time the two manage to get out. In the second scene,Charlie goes into the garage to start the car for the family as they leave for the dinner. The car iscleverly rigged and won’t turn off. This causes exhaust to fill the garage and this time the doorwon’t open. Charlie is helpless as fumes start to engulf the garage. Charlie survives, however thisrepresents a near death experience. Hitchcock put these two major events in the same locationbecause it shows the aspects of life (love) and death.People also play a major role in Hitchcock’s use of doubles, besides the obvious UncleCharlie and Charlie. There are two suspects in the murder of the widows and there are also twodetectives that are investigating it. Ironically one of them falls in love with the Charlie, who isthe niece of the man they are trying to catch. Also Charlie’s father Joseph and his friend Herbiealways discuss the perfect murder. It’s clever that Hitchcock put two of them together to talkabout murder, but it’s even cleverer that they talk about it twice throughout the entire film. Thesedoubles represent the grander aspect of Hitchcock’s theme.
DeMartini7Hitchcock’s use of doubles shows us one of his best techniques when it comes to filming.He applies so much structure to what he is filming and then at the last minute throws it all out thewindow. “Doubling his obsession with objectivity and critical distance, the evenhanded approachof the sophisticate, as well as his willingness to let the pattern go, to risk chaos.” (Sloan, 22)Hitchcock is not afraid to let everything spiral out of control because that’s what he wants. Whenwe think of doubles and how Hitchcock portrays them, they are always neat and even. Whetherit’s Guy and Bruno, Mr. Pelham and his doppelganger, or even scenes that replicate each other.We see them as structured and that one does not over power the other. Then at the lastminute Hitchcock breaks this pattern and in a sense ensures chaos between the characters. Forthat split second we don’t know who will triumph over the other. The outcome could beanything since throughout the whole time we’ve been watching, the characters and the wholeworld they live in has been balanced. It could be that good triumphs over evil as in Strangers ona Train and Shadow of a Doubt. Or in some cases the mysterious evil takes over and wins as wesee in The Case of Mr. Pelham. This differs from film to film so it is not always the ending theaudience will expect.However one thing Hitchcock does repeat in all of his films is that how the protagonistmust change in order to confront the doppelganger. The change is not always the protagonist cansee him or herself doing and in a way they become more like the doppelganger themselves.Hitchcock lets us slowly see this transition and make us realize that sometimes you must fightwith fire with fire. In his own way Hitchcock lets us experience both sides of the story, he showsus how radically different two people can be. Yet at the same time he shows us these charactersare so similar it’s like one of them is looking at the other in a mirror. The ironic thing about
DeMartini8looking into a mirror is thateverything on the other side is the complete opposite. This isHitchcockian film making at its best.
DeMartini9BibliographySloan, Jane E. Alfred Hitchcock: A Filmography and Bibliography.University of California Press, 1995.Spoto, Donald. The art of Alfred Hitchcock: Fifty Years of His Motion Pictures.Anchor, 2010.Spoto, Donald. The Dark Side of Genius: The Life of Alfred Hitchcock.Da Capo Press, 1999.Horton, Andrew, and Stuart Y. McDougal. Play It Again, Sam: Retakes on Remakes.Brekeley:University of California, 1998. Print.Walker, Michael. Hitchcocks Motifs. Amsterdam: Amsterdam UP,2005. Print.