Great Characters Wiki

"Women keep busy in towns like this. In the cities it's different. The cities are full of women, middle-aged widows, husbands dead, husbands who've spent their lives making fortunes, working and working. Then they die and leave their money to their wives. Their silly wives. And what do the wives do, these useless women? You see them in the hotels, the best hotels, every day by the thousands, drinking the money, eating the money, losing the money at bridge, playing all day and all night, smelling of money. Proud of their jewelry but of nothing else. Horrible, faded, fat, greedy women." ― Charlie's famous "Widows Speech"

Charles "Charlie" Oakley known as "Uncle Charlie" to his nieces and nephew, is the main antagonist of Alfred Hitchcock's 1943 film Shadow of a Doubt. He is a charming serial killer of elderly, wealthy widows who provokes the suspicion of his niece and namesake, Charlene "Charlie" Newton.

He was portrayed by Joseph Cotten in one of his most iconic roles ever.

Why He Rocks

  1. Joseph Cotten absolutely kills it as faux affable murderer, and manages to deliver the right mix of being cheerful and affable, along with being dangerous and insane. The voice is pretty much used to convey the complexity of the villain's personality.
  2. He manages to be one of Hitchcock's most disturbing villains ever, as he just happens to be an ordinary man who's the hero's uncle and a younger brother. He can pose as an ordinary family man, and throw everyone completely off guard. It's a harsh reminder that a truly evil person can come from pretty much anywhere.
  3. Part of what makes Charlie so elusive is just how unpredictable he is. His evil nature lies in his smoothness. He is urbane, charming, "polished" but, beneath the smooth surface, there lurks a brutal and a cynical killer. The others are meant to be seduced by the charming villain so as to be shocked by his evil deeds and yet, by allowing this seduction to take place, the spectator is compelled to accept and recognize the evil that lies within any human being. Uncle Charlie is a serious seducer. With fashionable clothing and elegance to go around, he is anything but a drag.
  4. It's been stated that he used to be a quiet boy who loved to read and had a childhood incident with his new bicycle the gave him a near-lethal skull fracture. Then after the fracture, he would regularly "get into mischief" as an attempt to give excuse for his sudden change in behavior. It's purposefully left ambiguous whether the skull fracture altered his personality, or he willingly choose to go down the dark path.
  5. To the world, Charles Oakley is a faceless figure and must remain so. He strongly dislikes being photographed and the only picture one sees of him is the one taken for Christmas, just before his accident, a testimony to his long-lost innocence. Hitchcock constantly contrasts the mans wish for physical transparency with his overwhelming presence on screen, which give him plenty of time for development.
  6. His villainous build-up to the reveal his very well done, with several easy-to-miss foreshadowing signs during the act.
  7. He's proven to be an excellent manipulator and deceiver, he demonstrated during a couple of scenes where the family begin a find something out related to his nature, and he's always able to lead them astray without drawing suspicion. For example, when he finds an article in the newspaper talking about his crimes, he invites Ann to watch a make-believe game that involves tearing the piece -- then secretly storing it away from the others.
  8. Adding to the charisma part mentioned in reason #3, he's known for giving a couple of monologues that are also theatrical revelations of his evil nature.
            Alfred Hitchcock Characters


Maxim de Winter | Mrs. de Winter | Mrs. Danvers | Rebecca de Winter (spoilers)

Shadow of a Doubt

Young Charlie | Charlie Oakley


T. R. Devlin | Alicia Huberman | Alexander Sebastian


Phillip Morgan & Brandon Shaw

Strangers on a Train

Bruno Antony

Dial M for Murder

Tony Wendice

Rear Window

L.B. Jeffries | Lisa Fremont | Stella | Lars Thorwald


John Ferguson | Madeleine Elster (spoilers) | Midge Wood

North by Northwest

Roger Thornhill | Eve Kendall (spoilers) | Clara Thornhill | Phillip Vandamm


Marion Crane | Norman Bates (spoilers)

The Birds

Melanie Daniels | Mitch Brenner | The Birds


Marnie Edgar | Mark Rutland