Shadow Of A Doubt Locations
The Shadow of a Doubt production process started when Margaret McDonnell, the head of David Selznick’s story department, approached Hitchcock with the story. Her husband conceptualized the idea based on the ’20s serial killer who went by the nickname ‘the Gorilla Man.”
Instead of publishing it as a novel, McDonnell thought it would translate better on the screen. Set in Santa Rosa, filming also took place around the Bay Area. Hitchcock preferred working his magic on sound stages but for the psychological thriller, he decided to film the scenes on-location.
It also mostly had to do with the $5,000 set construction cap issued by the War Production Board, given that rationing of materials was necessary in the wake of World War II. Working with old sets, mostly for the train scenes, and repurposed lumber, the production team spent just under $3,000 on the locations.
Working on Hitchcock’s instructions, location scouts found a nice but rundown residence in the city to serve as the Newton family home. Besides Santa Rosa, New Jersey offered locations for some of the Shadow of a Doubt scenes.
Hitchcock makes a cameo in the psychological thriller about 16 minutes into the runtime. He appears as a passenger playing bridge with the Harrys, aboard the train Uncle Charlie takes to Santa Rosa. Symbolically, he held all the cards in that scene, with an entire suite of spades at hand.
Opening scenes in Shadow of a Doubt
East Ward, 104 Oliver St, Newark, NJ
The movie opens with waltzing figures over the titles. We see middle-aged women wearing Edwardian outfits dancing with their partners to the tune of Franz Lehár’s “Merry Widow” waltz.
As the opening credits end, an image of the Jersey City marshes superimposes that of the dancers. The skyline reveals the city at its grandeur with stretches of power lines and chimneys. It conjures up part of Uncle Charlie’s statement, “you wake up every morning of your life and you know perfectly well that there’s nothing in the world to trouble you.
The Ironbound neighborhood, also known as Down Neck, in East Ward, Newark provided the backdrop for some Shadow of a Doubt scenes. Other New Jersey landmarks like the Pulaski Skyway also feature in the opening scenes.
The neighborhood offers various waterfront recreation activities including riverboat tours and kayaking. Other points of interest include the Riverfront Park, Red Bull Arena, and Riverbank Park.
Besides the Hitchcock picture, the neighborhood cemented its place in pop culture when Suzanne Vega described the locale in the lyrics of the third track, off of her ’87 album “Solitude Standing.” The Jersey band Overkill also named their 15th album “Ironbound.” Some scenes of “The Equalizer” aired in 2021 were also filmed around the Down Neck area.
Hop onto buses 1, 76, 108, or 34 to get to The Ironbound. The Path, NJCL, and NC trains also pass by the neighborhood.
Charlie overhears her father and Uncle Charlie talking about pulling off the perfect murder scene in Shadow of a Doubt
904 McDonald Avenue, Santa Rosa, CA
Uncle Charlie and Joseph discuss how to pull off the perfect murder. Once again, Uncle Charlie expresses his contempt for widowed women. “The cities are full of women, middle-aged widows. Husbands, dead husbands who’ve spent their lives making fortunes, working and working.”
After overhearing the conversation between Uncle Charlie and her father, Charlie is more than sure that he is behind the murders. She runs off, and Uncle Charlie follows after her.
Upon setting his eyes on photographs of the residence at 904 McDonald Avenue, Santa Rosa, Hitchcock loved the abode. The well-built house featured a charming interior and lovely exterior. It needed some cosmetic repairs, mostly to repaint the exterior, trim the overgrown lawn, and give the garage area a facelift.
Hitchcock explained that the worn-out look gave the impression that the Newtons were an average American family. The production unit temporarily rented the house for film shoots, much to the owners’ delight.
However, the owners overhauled the house, much to Hitchcock’s surprise. The special effects team had to artificially age the house and give it a worn-out look before filming kicked off. Once filming wrapped up, the filmmakers restored the Shadow of a Doubt location to its freshly renovated status.
Uncle Charlie aboard a train to Santa Rosa scene in Shadow of a Doubt
Railroad Square Historic District, Santa Rosa, CA
Following the opening scenes, we see an abandoned station. Later, we see Uncle Charlie aboard a train in a curtained berth. He is sitting next to a foursome plating bridge.
The woman with the card-playing group raises concern about their fellow passenger who is sick. She tells her husband to alert the porter that he is a doctor and ask if there is anything he can do. Her husband responds, “Now, listen, I’m on vacation…”
One of the repeated patterns in the film is the use of dual scenarios. The first involves the railway station scene, first when Uncle Charlie boards a train to Santa Rosa. He then takes off to San Francisco in the final scenes and attempts to kill Charlie.
The second instance of two happens to be the eponym “Charlie,” which is shared between Charlotte and her uncle. The third involves the two men being sought after for the widow's murders by two detectives. Then there are the two visits the cops made to the Newton residence, and finally, the deaths of the two murder suspects.
Operated by the Northwestern Pacific Railroad, the Shadow of a Doubt location still stands to date. Having survived the 1906 earthquake, Railroad Square now serves as a visitor center.
Charlie receives a telegram scene in Shadow of a Doubt
Carnegie Library, 725 3rd St, Santa Rosa, CA
One of the earlier scenes sees Charlie go to the Telegraph office to send her uncle a message. As she is busy drafting her telegraph, Mrs. Henderson (Minerva Urecal) informs her that a telegraph arrived for them. Charlie asks her, “Do you believe in telepathy?”
Mrs. Henderson hilariously responds that she ought to because it’s her business. Charlie clarifies explaining that she meant mental telepathy.
The Carnegie Library in Santa Rosa was yet another Shadow of a Doubt filming location. In particular, it is where they filmed the scene where Charlie runs off the library at night to get a newspaper.
Seismic concerns led to the demolition of the original library building in 1964. The construction of a new library at the same site concluded in 1967, and it is what we now know as the Central Sonoma County Library. Opened in 1904, the original library building served Santa Rosa citizens for about six decades. Even after partially collapsing, the building survived the 1906 earthquake.
Uncle Charlie takes Charlie to a bar scene in Shadow of a Doubt
Til-Two Bar (now Whiskey Tip), 1910 Sebastopol Rd, Santa Rosa, CA
After overhearing the conversation between her uncle and father, Charlie runs off and Uncle Charlie chases after her. He catches up and takes her to a bar. They bump into Louise, Charlie’s schoolmate who works at the watering hole.
Louise asks Charlie what she will have, “I’ll have a milkshake.” Louise is amused at Charlie’s order and tells her that they don’t serve anything like that. Her uncle orders her a ginger ale.
Questioning his niece about how much she knows, Uncle Charlie eventually admits that he is one of the much-sort-after suspects. Charlie agrees to help him for the sake of her mother who idolizes him. While later talking to Fred Saunders (Wallace Ford), Graham’s older colleague, he tells Charlie they sent out Uncle Charlie’s photo for identification by eyewitnesses.
The Til-Two Bar at the southwest corner of Third Street and Santa Rosa served as a Shadow of a Doubt film set. In the ‘60s when Courthouse Square received a facelift, the bar was torn down. There is a Til-Two Club in San Diego where you can catch live bands, enjoy offbeat cocktails, and sing your heart out during stand-up karaoke sessions.
Uncle Charlie’s funeral scene in Shadow of a Doubt
Methodist Episcopal Church South (now a parking garage), 735 5th St, Santa Rosa, CA
A turn of events happens when the police chase down an alternative suspect who is then killed by the propeller of an airplane. The case is closed, given that it’s assumed that the deceased suspect was behind the murders. Uncle Charlie is happy to be exonerated but before leaving for San Francisco, he attempts to do away with Charlie.
After all, she is the only loose end that ties him to the murders. However, it’s Uncle Charlie who dies after a struggle ensues between him and his niece aboard a train to the Golden Gate City. Still, the townspeople honor Uncle Charlie at his funeral.
Graham returns and at the church, he hilariously asks Charlie’s younger sister Ann (Edna May Wonacott) for some assistance. “Look, Ann. Ask your sister if she’ll come here in a minute. Don’t noise it around.” Charlie confesses what she knew about Uncle Charlie but they resolve to leave things be.
Hitchcock explained to Peter Bogdanovich, during an interview, that the scene brought out the idea of destroying “the thing you love.” Uncle Charlie was Charlie’s favorite relative but in the end, she killed him in self-defense.
The Methodist Episcopal Church South in Santa Rosa provided the backdrop for the Shadow of a Doubt scene.
When traipsing around the Shadow of a Doubt filming locations in Santa Rosa, make sure to drop by the Tower Theater which also features in the film. Other Santa Rosa locations seen in the movie include Hotel La Rose and Courthouse Square.
The vehicle that detective Graham is seen driving in the film is a 1941 Plymouth Special DeLuxe Convertible. Hitchcock often said that the psychological thriller was the best of his films, and Roger Ebert included it in his “Great Movies” list. Cotton reprised his role for The Screen Guild Theater’s radio adaptation broadcast in 1943.
Wright also reprised her role for the Lux Radio Theater’s 1944 radio adaptation. Given that the two main characters share an eponym, the name Charlie is heard in the film about 170 times.