Shadow of a Doubt


1h 48m 1943
Shadow of a Doubt

Brief Synopsis

A young girl fears her favorite uncle may be a killer.

Film Details

Genre
Drama
Mystery
Thriller
Release Date
Jan 15, 1943
Premiere Information
New York opening: 12 Jan 1943
Production Company
Jack H. Skirball Productions, Inc.; Universal Pictures Company, Inc.
Distribution Company
Universal Pictures Company, Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 48m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
9,766ft

Synopsis

Serial murderer Charles Oakley is forced to flee Philadelphia when the police come to suspect him in the strangulations of three rich widows. Charles escapes to his unsuspecting older sister Emma Newton's home in the small town of Santa Rosa, California. At the train station, Charles is met by his brother-in-law Joseph, his young nephew Roger and his two nieces, Charlie and Ann. Charlie is especially elated by the arrival of her uncle, as she was named after him and the two have a seemingly telepathic relationship. At dinner that night, Charles, who is viewed by the Newtons as a sophisticated adventurer, gives Charlie an emerald ring, and she begins to hum the "Merry Widow" waltz, the same tune of which Charles had just been thinking. The next day, Emma tells Charles that a questionnaire man for a national poll named Jack Graham, along with photographer Fred Saunders, is conducting a survey of the Newton family, but Charles refuses to be interviewed or photographed. After spending the day with the Newtons, Jack takes Charlie on a date, and she learns that he is actually a police detective investigating her uncle. Jack tells her that Charles is one of two suspects, and Charlie agrees not to divulge his secret to her family. After Jack takes her home, Charlie rushes to the library, where she discovers that Charles had earlier destroyed her father's newspaper because it contained an article about the nationwide search for the "Merry Widow Murderer." She also learns that the third victim's name matches the engraved initials on the ring her uncle gave her. At dinner the next night, Charlie's suspicions are confirmed when Charles openly expresses his hatred of widows. She rushes out of the room when Joseph and his old friend, Herbie Hawkins, a mystery buff, discuss various forms of murder, and Charles chases after her. He forces Charlie to go into a bar and tells her that she knows nothing of the real world. Returning home, Charles promises to leave town in a few days if she will help him. Later, Fred tells Charlie that he secretly photographed Charles and they are now waiting for him to be identified by witnesses on the East Coast. Charlie then agrees to force her uncle to leave town, in order to avoid a scandal, and tells the detectives how he will be leaving. Meanwhile, Charles hears that the second murder suspect has been killed attempting to avoid the police and assumes he is safe, but soon realizes that Charlie knows the truth. After telling Charlie that her uncle has been cleared of the crimes, Jack proclaims his love and promises to return to her. Later, Charlie is almost killed when she trips on a broken step on the back stairs. She then demands that her uncle leave and threatens to kill him if he does not go. Soon thereafter, Charlie is almost killed again when she becomes trapped in the garage with a running car engine. That night, after speaking before Emma's women's club, Charles announces that he is leaving for San Francisco, on the same train as the widowed Mrs. Potter. Charles makes one last attempt to kill Charlie by throwing her off the moving train, but she pushes him into the path of an oncoming train instead. Charles is then given a grand funeral, as Charlie and Jack agree to keep his murderous nature their secret.

Photo Collections

Shadow of a Doubt - Lobby Cards
Here are a few Lobby Cards from Shadow of a Doubt (1943), directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Lobby Cards were 11" x 14" posters that came in sets of 8. As the name implies, they were most often displayed in movie theater lobbies, to advertise current or coming attractions.

Videos

Movie Clip

Trailer

Hosted Intro

Film Details

Genre
Drama
Mystery
Thriller
Release Date
Jan 15, 1943
Premiere Information
New York opening: 12 Jan 1943
Production Company
Jack H. Skirball Productions, Inc.; Universal Pictures Company, Inc.
Distribution Company
Universal Pictures Company, Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 48m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
9,766ft

Award Nominations

Best Writing, Screenplay

1944

Articles

Shadow of a Doubt - Shadow of a Doubt


Alfred Hitchcock especially liked Shadow of a Doubt (1943), he once said, "because it was one of those rare occasions where you could combine character with suspense. Usually in a suspense story there isn't time to develop character." In this picture, it's the very nature of the relationship between two richly-drawn characters - Teresa Wright's "Charlie" and Joseph Cotten's "Uncle Charlie" - which creates suspense for the audience. The two share an almost telepathic connection, with Wright especially devoted to her beloved uncle, who has come to visit her family in Santa Rosa, California. What she doesn't know is that Uncle Charlie has come to town in order to throw the police off his trail, for he is really the "Merry Widow Murderer" and has been killing rich widows back east. Gradually, Charlie begins to suspect him.

Given its seamlessness, it's surprising that the screenplay was the product of at least six writers (four credited), including Hitchcock himself. The project began when the head of David Selznick's story department, Margaret McDonell, told Hitchcock that her husband Gordon had an interesting idea for a novel that she thought would make a good movie. His idea, called Uncle Charlie, was based on the true story of Earle Leonard Nelson, a mass murderer of the 1920s known as the Merry Widow Murderer. Hitchcock met with the couple over lunch at the Brown Derby restaurant, loved the pitch, and asked Gordon to type a 9-page outline. (McDonell would go on to earn an Oscar® nomination for Best Original Story.)

Outline in hand, Hitchcock put in a request for Thornton Wilder to write the script. He had admired Wilder's recent play Our Town and wanted to incorporate a similar sense of small-town American life into the movie. Furthermore, the director was eager to work with top writers. Hitchcock remembered, "In England I'd always had the collaboration of the finest writers, but in America - writers looked down their noses at the genre I work in. That's why it was so gratifying to find out that one of America's most eminent playwrights was willing to work with me and, indeed, that he took the whole thing quite seriously." As a matter of fact, Wilder at first wasn't terribly interested in the project. He knew he was about to receive military orders and took the job as a way to make some extra last-minute cash to help his ailing sister. But when he met Hitchcock in Los Angeles and felt the director's respect for his work, Wilder's enthusiasm rose greatly. Hitchcock recalled that they "worked together in the morning, and [Wilder] would work on his own in the afternoon, writing by hand in a school notebook. He never worked consecutively, but jumped about from one scene to another according to his fancy."

Wilder also gave input about other aspects of the production and even assisted Hitchcock in the location scouting, personally approving the town of Santa Rosa and the house in which the characters lived. After five weeks in California, Wilder was ordered to report for training at Army Air Intelligence in Florida. The script was largely but not totally complete, and Hitchcock accompanied Wilder back east on the Super Chief so they could finish their discussions.

Back in L.A., Sally Benson (who had just written the novel Meet Me in St. Louis) came on board to inject some comedic moments, and Hitchcock's wife Alma Reville also contributed to the script. Her influence on her husband's films cannot be overemphasized. She had her own career as a film editor when the two met and married in 1929, and she collaborated closely on all his movies - especially the scripts, usually uncredited. Shadow was one of the few titles for which she did receive a credit. One of the greatest compliments Hitchcock could ever give an actor or crewmember was, "Alma liked it." They were still married when Hitchcock died in 1980.

Actress Patricia Collinge, who plays Cotten's sister, also wrote at least one scene, the one between Teresa Wright and Macdonald Carey in a garage in which the couple talk about love and marriage.

But the final writer was Hitchcock himself. He devoted an unusual amount of time to the screenplay, even writing extensive dialogue - something he rarely did. The speech that Patricia Collinge delivers about what her brother Joseph Cotten was like as a boy, for instance, was drawn from Hitchcock's own life experience. And Collinge's character was named "Emma" after Hitchcock's own mother - "the last benevolent rendering of a mother figure in Hitchcock's films," wrote Hitchcock biographer Donald Spoto. Indeed, after this picture, Hitchcock's films would be filled with possessive, tyrannical, deranged, or evil mothers. One reason for this is that during the writing of Shadow of a Doubt, Hitchcock's mother became seriously ill in England, and he was unable to visit her because of the difficulties of wartime traveling. She would die during production. According to Spoto, "Hitchcock poured his soul into the first spiritually autobiographical film of his career. Shadow of a Doubt would become a handbook of all the literary and cultural influences on his own life, and it would be as near as he would ever get to wearing his private heart on his public and professional sleeve."

Resulting from all these writers' hands was a remarkably subversive movie, something of a flip side to Our Town. The town in the film is sunny and pleasant on the surface, but underneath runs a river of uncertainty and anxiety. Considering it was made in the middle of WWII, to find such a dark and disturbing portrait of smalltown America in a major studio production was quite amazing.

Hitchcock assembled a perfect cast, borrowing Joseph Cotten from David O. Selznick and Teresa Wright from Samuel Goldwyn. Wright had just won an Oscar® for Mrs. Miniver (1942, and had been nominated twice before). Her Broadway career, ironically, had begun as an understudy to Dorothy McGuire in Our Town, and it's possible that Wilder suggested her to Hitchcock. Cotten's likable, easygoing persona makes him a sympathetic protagonist, at least at first, and it provided a nice contrast in the riveting scenes where his inner evil surfaces from deep within. Cotten recalled of Hitchcock, "He said I should dress as if I were a rich man going to a resort for a vacation. No director was ever easier to work with." Wright echoed Cotten, stating, "During the shooting he made us feel very relaxed. His direction never came across as instruction...He saw the film completely in his mind before we began - as if he had a little projection room in his head."

Shadow of a Doubt also features the screen debut of Hume Cronyn, who would go on to appear in Lifeboat (1944) and then collaborate with Hitchcock on the treatments of Rope (1948) and Under Capricorn (1949). Wright's little sister Ann was played by the daughter of a local Santa Rosa grocer, whom Hitchcock discovered on a location shoot.

As always, Hitchcock paid great attention to every detail of the production, even arranging for the train that carries Cotten to Santa Rosa to belch black smoke when it pulls into town, "one of those ideas," he remarked, "for which you go to a lot of trouble although it's seldom noticed." Also on that train, look for the master himself in his cameo, playing poker.

Producer: Jack H. Skirball
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Screenplay: Sally Benson, Joan Harrison, Gordon McDonell, Alma Reville, Thornton Wilder
Cinematography: Joseph A. Valentine
Film Editing: Milton Carruth
Art Direction: John B. Goodman
Music: Dimitri Tiomkin
Cast: Joseph Cotten (Charlie Oakley), Teresa Wright (Young Charlie Newton), Macdonald Carey (Jack Graham), Henry Travers (Joseph Newton), Patricia Collinge (Emma Newton), Wallace Ford (Fred Saunders).
BW-108m. Closed Captioning.

by Jeremy Arnold
Shadow Of A Doubt  - Shadow Of A Doubt

Shadow of a Doubt - Shadow of a Doubt

Alfred Hitchcock especially liked Shadow of a Doubt (1943), he once said, "because it was one of those rare occasions where you could combine character with suspense. Usually in a suspense story there isn't time to develop character." In this picture, it's the very nature of the relationship between two richly-drawn characters - Teresa Wright's "Charlie" and Joseph Cotten's "Uncle Charlie" - which creates suspense for the audience. The two share an almost telepathic connection, with Wright especially devoted to her beloved uncle, who has come to visit her family in Santa Rosa, California. What she doesn't know is that Uncle Charlie has come to town in order to throw the police off his trail, for he is really the "Merry Widow Murderer" and has been killing rich widows back east. Gradually, Charlie begins to suspect him. Given its seamlessness, it's surprising that the screenplay was the product of at least six writers (four credited), including Hitchcock himself. The project began when the head of David Selznick's story department, Margaret McDonell, told Hitchcock that her husband Gordon had an interesting idea for a novel that she thought would make a good movie. His idea, called Uncle Charlie, was based on the true story of Earle Leonard Nelson, a mass murderer of the 1920s known as the Merry Widow Murderer. Hitchcock met with the couple over lunch at the Brown Derby restaurant, loved the pitch, and asked Gordon to type a 9-page outline. (McDonell would go on to earn an Oscar® nomination for Best Original Story.) Outline in hand, Hitchcock put in a request for Thornton Wilder to write the script. He had admired Wilder's recent play Our Town and wanted to incorporate a similar sense of small-town American life into the movie. Furthermore, the director was eager to work with top writers. Hitchcock remembered, "In England I'd always had the collaboration of the finest writers, but in America - writers looked down their noses at the genre I work in. That's why it was so gratifying to find out that one of America's most eminent playwrights was willing to work with me and, indeed, that he took the whole thing quite seriously." As a matter of fact, Wilder at first wasn't terribly interested in the project. He knew he was about to receive military orders and took the job as a way to make some extra last-minute cash to help his ailing sister. But when he met Hitchcock in Los Angeles and felt the director's respect for his work, Wilder's enthusiasm rose greatly. Hitchcock recalled that they "worked together in the morning, and [Wilder] would work on his own in the afternoon, writing by hand in a school notebook. He never worked consecutively, but jumped about from one scene to another according to his fancy." Wilder also gave input about other aspects of the production and even assisted Hitchcock in the location scouting, personally approving the town of Santa Rosa and the house in which the characters lived. After five weeks in California, Wilder was ordered to report for training at Army Air Intelligence in Florida. The script was largely but not totally complete, and Hitchcock accompanied Wilder back east on the Super Chief so they could finish their discussions. Back in L.A., Sally Benson (who had just written the novel Meet Me in St. Louis) came on board to inject some comedic moments, and Hitchcock's wife Alma Reville also contributed to the script. Her influence on her husband's films cannot be overemphasized. She had her own career as a film editor when the two met and married in 1929, and she collaborated closely on all his movies - especially the scripts, usually uncredited. Shadow was one of the few titles for which she did receive a credit. One of the greatest compliments Hitchcock could ever give an actor or crewmember was, "Alma liked it." They were still married when Hitchcock died in 1980. Actress Patricia Collinge, who plays Cotten's sister, also wrote at least one scene, the one between Teresa Wright and Macdonald Carey in a garage in which the couple talk about love and marriage. But the final writer was Hitchcock himself. He devoted an unusual amount of time to the screenplay, even writing extensive dialogue - something he rarely did. The speech that Patricia Collinge delivers about what her brother Joseph Cotten was like as a boy, for instance, was drawn from Hitchcock's own life experience. And Collinge's character was named "Emma" after Hitchcock's own mother - "the last benevolent rendering of a mother figure in Hitchcock's films," wrote Hitchcock biographer Donald Spoto. Indeed, after this picture, Hitchcock's films would be filled with possessive, tyrannical, deranged, or evil mothers. One reason for this is that during the writing of Shadow of a Doubt, Hitchcock's mother became seriously ill in England, and he was unable to visit her because of the difficulties of wartime traveling. She would die during production. According to Spoto, "Hitchcock poured his soul into the first spiritually autobiographical film of his career. Shadow of a Doubt would become a handbook of all the literary and cultural influences on his own life, and it would be as near as he would ever get to wearing his private heart on his public and professional sleeve." Resulting from all these writers' hands was a remarkably subversive movie, something of a flip side to Our Town. The town in the film is sunny and pleasant on the surface, but underneath runs a river of uncertainty and anxiety. Considering it was made in the middle of WWII, to find such a dark and disturbing portrait of smalltown America in a major studio production was quite amazing. Hitchcock assembled a perfect cast, borrowing Joseph Cotten from David O. Selznick and Teresa Wright from Samuel Goldwyn. Wright had just won an Oscar® for Mrs. Miniver (1942, and had been nominated twice before). Her Broadway career, ironically, had begun as an understudy to Dorothy McGuire in Our Town, and it's possible that Wilder suggested her to Hitchcock. Cotten's likable, easygoing persona makes him a sympathetic protagonist, at least at first, and it provided a nice contrast in the riveting scenes where his inner evil surfaces from deep within. Cotten recalled of Hitchcock, "He said I should dress as if I were a rich man going to a resort for a vacation. No director was ever easier to work with." Wright echoed Cotten, stating, "During the shooting he made us feel very relaxed. His direction never came across as instruction...He saw the film completely in his mind before we began - as if he had a little projection room in his head." Shadow of a Doubt also features the screen debut of Hume Cronyn, who would go on to appear in Lifeboat (1944) and then collaborate with Hitchcock on the treatments of Rope (1948) and Under Capricorn (1949). Wright's little sister Ann was played by the daughter of a local Santa Rosa grocer, whom Hitchcock discovered on a location shoot. As always, Hitchcock paid great attention to every detail of the production, even arranging for the train that carries Cotten to Santa Rosa to belch black smoke when it pulls into town, "one of those ideas," he remarked, "for which you go to a lot of trouble although it's seldom noticed." Also on that train, look for the master himself in his cameo, playing poker. Producer: Jack H. Skirball Director: Alfred Hitchcock Screenplay: Sally Benson, Joan Harrison, Gordon McDonell, Alma Reville, Thornton Wilder Cinematography: Joseph A. Valentine Film Editing: Milton Carruth Art Direction: John B. Goodman Music: Dimitri Tiomkin Cast: Joseph Cotten (Charlie Oakley), Teresa Wright (Young Charlie Newton), Macdonald Carey (Jack Graham), Henry Travers (Joseph Newton), Patricia Collinge (Emma Newton), Wallace Ford (Fred Saunders). BW-108m. Closed Captioning. by Jeremy Arnold

Teresa Wright (1918-2005)


Teresa Wright, a talented, Oscar&-winning leading lady of the '40s, and in later life, a versatile character player, died on March 6 at a New Haven, Connecticut hospital of a heart attack. She was 86.

She was born Muriel Teresa Wright in New York City on October 27, 1918. She showed a keen interest in acting in grade school, and by the time she was 19, she made her Broadway debut in Thorton Wilder's Our Town (1938); the following year she scored a hit as Mary, the weeping ingénue in Life with Father (1939). The word was out that New York had a superb young acting talent on hand, and Samuel Goldwyn soon brought her to Hollywood for William Wyler's adaptation of Lillian Hellman's The Little Foxes (1941). She scored an Oscar® nomination for her film debut as Regina Giddens' (Bette Davis), honorable daughter, Alexandria.

She maintained her amazing momentum by scoring two Oscar® nominations the following year for her next two films: as Carol Miniver in Wyler's Mrs. Miniver (Best Supporting Actress Category), and as Lou Gehrig's (Gary Cooper) faithful wife Ellie in Pride of the Yankees (Best Actress Category), and won the Oscar for Miniver. Yet for most fans of Wright's work, her finest hour remains her perfectly modulated performance as young Charlie in Alfred Hitchcock's masterpiece, Shadow of a Doubt (1943). Wright's performance as the self-effacing, impressionable young niece who gradually realizes that her beloved uncle (Joseph Cotton) may have murdered several widows is effective since Wright's air of observation, subtly turns from idol gazing, to a watchful air of caution as the facts slowly being to unravel. 60 years on, fans of Hitchcock still acclaim Wright's performance as an integral part of the film's classic status.

She proved her talents in comedy with the delightful Casanova Brown (1944), but then saw her schedule slow down due to domesticity. After she married screenwriter Niven Busch in 1942, she gave birth to son, Niven Jr., in 1944, and took two years off to look after her family. She soon returned to film with another Wyler project, the Oscar®-winning, post war drama, The Best Years of Our Lives (1946), playing Fredric March's level-headed daughter, Peggy, she again took some time off after giving birth to her daughter, Mary in 1947. On her second attempt to return to the big screen, Wright found her popularity on the wane. Her wholesome image was in sharp contrast of the tougher, more modern women in post-war Hollywood, and her stubborn refusal to pose for any swimsuit or cheesecake photos to alter her image led to her release from Sam Goldwyn's contract.

As a freelance actress, Wright still found some good roles, notably as a young widow in the thriller scripted by her husband, in The Capture; and as a faithful fiancée trying to help Marlin Brandon deal with his amputation in Stanley Kramer's The Men (both 1950). Yet within a few years, she was playing middle-aged mothers in film like The Actress (1953), and The Track of the Cat (1954), even though she was still in her early '30s. By the mid-50s she found work in live television, where she could apply her stage training, in a number of acclaimed shows: Playhouse 90, General Electric Theater, Four Star Playhouse, and The United States Steel Hour.

She took a break from acting when she married her second husband, the playwright Robert Anderson in 1959, (she had divorced her first husband, Busch, in 1952) and was out of the public eye for several decades, save for an isolated theater appearance. When she did return, it was intermittent, but she was always worth watching. In James Ivory's Roseland (1977), a portrait of the New York dancehall; she was poignant as a talkative widow obsessed with her late husband; and as an enigmatic old actress in Somewhere in Time, she nearly stole the picture from leads, Christopher Reeve and Jayne Seymour. She was still active in the '90s, appearing a few hit shows: Murder, She Wrote, Picket Fences; and a final film role in John Grisham's The Rainmaker (1997). She is survived by her son, Niven; daughter, Mary; and two grandchildren.

by Michael T. Toole

Teresa Wright (1918-2005)

Teresa Wright, a talented, Oscar&-winning leading lady of the '40s, and in later life, a versatile character player, died on March 6 at a New Haven, Connecticut hospital of a heart attack. She was 86. She was born Muriel Teresa Wright in New York City on October 27, 1918. She showed a keen interest in acting in grade school, and by the time she was 19, she made her Broadway debut in Thorton Wilder's Our Town (1938); the following year she scored a hit as Mary, the weeping ingénue in Life with Father (1939). The word was out that New York had a superb young acting talent on hand, and Samuel Goldwyn soon brought her to Hollywood for William Wyler's adaptation of Lillian Hellman's The Little Foxes (1941). She scored an Oscar® nomination for her film debut as Regina Giddens' (Bette Davis), honorable daughter, Alexandria. She maintained her amazing momentum by scoring two Oscar® nominations the following year for her next two films: as Carol Miniver in Wyler's Mrs. Miniver (Best Supporting Actress Category), and as Lou Gehrig's (Gary Cooper) faithful wife Ellie in Pride of the Yankees (Best Actress Category), and won the Oscar for Miniver. Yet for most fans of Wright's work, her finest hour remains her perfectly modulated performance as young Charlie in Alfred Hitchcock's masterpiece, Shadow of a Doubt (1943). Wright's performance as the self-effacing, impressionable young niece who gradually realizes that her beloved uncle (Joseph Cotton) may have murdered several widows is effective since Wright's air of observation, subtly turns from idol gazing, to a watchful air of caution as the facts slowly being to unravel. 60 years on, fans of Hitchcock still acclaim Wright's performance as an integral part of the film's classic status. She proved her talents in comedy with the delightful Casanova Brown (1944), but then saw her schedule slow down due to domesticity. After she married screenwriter Niven Busch in 1942, she gave birth to son, Niven Jr., in 1944, and took two years off to look after her family. She soon returned to film with another Wyler project, the Oscar®-winning, post war drama, The Best Years of Our Lives (1946), playing Fredric March's level-headed daughter, Peggy, she again took some time off after giving birth to her daughter, Mary in 1947. On her second attempt to return to the big screen, Wright found her popularity on the wane. Her wholesome image was in sharp contrast of the tougher, more modern women in post-war Hollywood, and her stubborn refusal to pose for any swimsuit or cheesecake photos to alter her image led to her release from Sam Goldwyn's contract. As a freelance actress, Wright still found some good roles, notably as a young widow in the thriller scripted by her husband, in The Capture; and as a faithful fiancée trying to help Marlin Brandon deal with his amputation in Stanley Kramer's The Men (both 1950). Yet within a few years, she was playing middle-aged mothers in film like The Actress (1953), and The Track of the Cat (1954), even though she was still in her early '30s. By the mid-50s she found work in live television, where she could apply her stage training, in a number of acclaimed shows: Playhouse 90, General Electric Theater, Four Star Playhouse, and The United States Steel Hour. She took a break from acting when she married her second husband, the playwright Robert Anderson in 1959, (she had divorced her first husband, Busch, in 1952) and was out of the public eye for several decades, save for an isolated theater appearance. When she did return, it was intermittent, but she was always worth watching. In James Ivory's Roseland (1977), a portrait of the New York dancehall; she was poignant as a talkative widow obsessed with her late husband; and as an enigmatic old actress in Somewhere in Time, she nearly stole the picture from leads, Christopher Reeve and Jayne Seymour. She was still active in the '90s, appearing a few hit shows: Murder, She Wrote, Picket Fences; and a final film role in John Grisham's The Rainmaker (1997). She is survived by her son, Niven; daughter, Mary; and two grandchildren. by Michael T. Toole

Quotes

Go away, I'm warning you. Go away or I'll kill you myself. See... that's the way I feel about you.
- Young Charlie
What's the use of looking backward? What's the use of looking ahead? Today's the thing -- that's my philosophy. Today.
- Uncle Charlie
You think you know something, don't you? You think you're the clever little girl who knows something. There's so much you don't know, so much. What do you know, really? You're just an ordinary little girl, living in an ordinary little town. You wake up every morning of your life and you know perfectly well that there's nothing in the world to trouble you. You go through your ordinary little day, and at night you sleep your untroubled ordinary little sleep, filled with peaceful stupid dreams. And I brought you nightmares. Or did I? Or was it a silly, inexpert little lie? You live in a dream. You're a sleepwalker, blind. How do you know what the world is like? Do you know the world is a foul sty? Do you know, if you rip off the fronts of houses, you'd find swine? The world's a hell. What does it matter what happens in it? Wake up, Charlie. Use your wits. Learn something.
- Uncle Charlie
Charlie, think. How much do you know about your uncle?
- Jack Graham
Why, he's my mother's brother.
- Young Charlie Newton
We're not talking about killing people. Herb's talking about killing me and I'm talking about killing him.
- Joseph Newton

Trivia

on the train to Santa Rosa playing cards. He has the entire suit of spades in his hand, including the symbolic ace.

Director 'Hitchcock, Alfred' often said that this was his favorite film.

It was remade as "Step Down to Terror" in 1958 and as a TV movie in 1991.

"BM" is engraved on a ring.

Patricia Collinge, who plays Emma Newton in the film, wrote the garage scene between Charlie ('Wright, Teresa' ) and Jack (MacDonald Carey).

Edna May Wonacott, who plays young Ann Newton, and Estelle Jewell, who plays Charlie's friend, Catherine, were both locals of Santa Rosa, where the film was shot on location. Many of the film's extras were also locals of the town, which was too far away from Hollywood to be affected by Actors Guild guidelines demanding the use of professional actors.

Notes

In the opening credits, a special acknowledgment notes: "...the contribution of Thornton Wilder to the preparation of this production." According to New York Herald Tribune, the plot of Shadow of a Doubt was based on an actual event that took place in Hanford, CA in 1938, when a man from New York arrived in town to visit his sister's family, only to be arrested for the murders of numerous rich women on the East Coast. Writer Gordon McDonell read a newspaper story about the event and went to Hanford for twelve days, with the idea of writing a play on the subject. Three years later, McDonell met Hitchcock, and sold him a six-page story idea, which was titled "Uncle Charlie." Hitchcock then brought in noted playwright Thornton Wilder to write the screenplay, because of his work on the classic small-town play Our Town. According to modern sources, after Wilder enlisted in the Psychological Warfare Division of the U.S. Army, Hitchcock boarded a train to Florida (where Wilder was to begin his military training) with the writer in order to help him finish the screenplay. Universal press materials state that Sally Benson, who wrote the novels Meet Me in St. Louis and Junior Miss, was brought on to the project in July 1942 to write additional dialogue, but received a full screenwriting credit, along with Wilder and Alma Reville, Hitchcock's wife. According to modern sources, actress Patricia Collinge, who played "Emma Newton" in the film, wrote a love scene for Teresa Wright and Macdonald Carey at the behest of Wright.
       Production on Shadow of a Doubt began in April 1942, soon after the breakup of the producing team of Frank Lloyd and Jack Skirball, who had produced Universal's 1942 Hitchcock picture Saboteur (see entry above). According to Hollywood Reporter, Skirball signed a one-picture deal with Universal in May 1942, with Hitchcock attached once again as director. Hollywood Reporter news items and Life report that background shots for Shadow of a Doubt were done in Newark, NJ, while the main production began shooting on August 3, 1942 in the small city of Santa Rosa, CA. According to New York Times, Skirball and Hitchcock had some difficulty getting permission to film in Santa Rosa, as the city had been embezzled by an unknown independent film producer, who came to town in 1925 promising to build a studio there, but ended up selling $25,000 worth of useless stock and disappearing in the dead of night. Charles Dunwoody, the secretary of the Santa Rosa Chamber of Commerce, was able, however, to convince the citizens that the Universal production was legitimate, and the city saw an influx of $100,000 to the community during filming. In addition, a local girl, Edna May Wonacott, was signed to play the featured role of "Ann Newton." According to Hollywood Reporter news items, location filming ended on August 26, 1942, with the company returning to Universal for four more weeks of interior shooting. New York Times reports that additional background shots were made in a parking lot near the Manhattan waterfront in New York.
       Hollywood Reporter news items include thirteen-year-old Ruby Henderson in the cast, but her appearance in the released film has not been confirmed. Hollywood Reporter news items also announced Bernard Herrmann as the film's musical director, though that position was held by Charles Previn. In published interviews in modern sources, Hitchcock proclaimed Shadow of a Doubt as a favorite among his own films. The director makes his customary cameo by appearing as a man playing cards on the train, near the beginning of the picture. The film marked the motion picture debut of actor Hume Cronin (1911-2003).
       McDonell received an Academy Award nomination for his original story, but lost to William Saroyan's work on the M-G-M production of his novel The Human Comedy. William Powell and Teresa Wright appeared in a Lux Radio Theatre production of McDonell's story on January 3, 1944, and Joseph Cotten and June Vincent starred in an Academy Award Playhouse adaptation broadcast on September 11, 1946. Two television versions of the McDonell story have also been made: a March 24, 1955 Lux Video Theatre production, starring Frank Lovejoy and Barbara Rush, directed by Richard Goode; and a 1991 production directed by Karen Arthur, starring Mark Harmon and Margaret Webb.Shadow of a Doubt was remade by Universal in 1958, under the title Step Down to Terror, starring Colleen Miller and Charles Drake, under the direction of Harry Keller.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Winter January 1, 1943

Released in United States on Video September 15, 1988

Re-released in United States on Video May 23, 1995

Released in United States March 1979

Formerly distributed by MCA Home Video.

Remade as "Step Down to Terror" (1959) directed by Harry Keller.

Selected in 1991 for inclusion in the Library of Congress' National Film Registry.

Released in USA on laserdisc March 1989.

Released in United States Winter January 1, 1943

Released in United States on Video September 15, 1988

Re-released in United States on Video May 23, 1995

Released in United States March 1979 (Shown at FILMEX: Los Angeles International Film Exposition (The 50-Hour Mighty MovieMarathon: Mystery and Suspense) March 14-30, 1979.)