The suspenseful tenor of dramatics associated with director Alfred Hitchcock is utilized here to good advantage in unfolding a story [by Gordon McDonell] of a small town and the arrival of what might prove to be a murderer. Hitchcock poses a study in contrasts when the world-wise adventurer (Joseph Cotten) eludes police in Philadelphia to journey to his sister’s home and family in the small California town of Santa Rosa. His deb-age niece (Teresa Wright), is not only named young Charlie after her uncle, but knows there’s a mental contact somewhere along the line. Amid the typical small-town family life, she intuitively feels that Cotten has a guilty conscience, and finally ties the ends together to cast suspicion on him as a murderer and fugitive.
Hitchcock deftly etches his small-town characters and homey surroundings. Wright provides a sincere and persuasive portrayal as the girl, while Cotten is excellent as the motivating factor in the proceedings. Strong support is provided by Henry Travers, Patricia Collinge, Edna May Wonacott and Charles Bates. Hume Cronyn gets attention as the small-town amateur sleuth.
1943: Nomination: Best Original Story