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The Shadow Movies of the 1930s and 40s

By Billy Ingram

"Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows!"

The Shadow predates Batman, in fact he was one of the Dark Knight's influences. In The Shadow stories in pulp magazines and on a wildly popular radio series, the hero had the power to 'cloud men's minds so they cannot see him.'

The Shadow, in one form or another, was also the star of a series of movies from the 1930s and '40s. The first, 'The Shadow Strikes,' was a Grand National Pictures production starring Rod La Rocque in the title role of Lamont Granston (as his name was spelled, it was Cranston on the radio) who assumes the secret identity of The Shadow, heard as a voice on the radio but not seen.

 

La Rocque returned the following year in 'International Crime,' this time as reporter Lamont Cranston but The Shadow is still not seen as a costumed character.

 

In 1940 there was a 12-part serial from Columbia Pictures titled 'The Shadow' starring Victor Jory as a masked man with a hat and cape, dressed all in black, battling The Black Tiger, a villain who possesses the power to make himself invisible. This version was very close to the radio program and the pulps, right down to the cackling laugh.

This was the ninth serial released by Columbia Pictures out of 57 total that includes 'Batman and Robin,' 'Blackhawk,' 'The Lost Planet,' and 'Superman and the Atom Men.'

 

In 1946 Monogram Pictures released 'The Shadow Returns' a feature starring Kane Richmond as Lamont Cranston and Barbara Reed as his sidekick Margot Lane. In a nice effect, The Shadow appeared to criminals as a reflexion on the wall. Weirdly, Lane was portrayed as heroic in the print and radio versions, here she's a complete idiot.

The first in a series of three films released by Monogram in 1946 starring Richmond in the role that included 'Behind the Mask' and 'The Missing Lady.' Leonard Maltin wrote that 'The Missing Lady' was "the best of the series, played like a straight film noir and offering a few surprise twists."

 

'The Missing Lady': 

The last Shadow movie (before that dreadful Alec Baldwin film in 1994) was 1958's 'Invisible Avenger' with Richard Derr in the title role. In this feature, The Shadow investigates the murder of a New Orleans bandleader.

 

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See also:
The Shadow 1954 Pilot

 

ow movies

WIKI: In 1931 Universal Pictures created a series of six film shorts based on the popular Detective Story Hour radio program, narrated by The Shadow. The first short, A Burglar to the Rescue, was filmed in New York City and features the voice of The Shadow on radio, Frank Readick Jr. Beginning with the second short, The House of Mystery, the series was produced in Hollywood without the voice of Readick as The Shadow; it was followed by The Circus Show-Up and three additional shorts the following year with other voice actors portraying The Shadow.

6.2 The Shadow Strikes (1937)
6.3 International Crime (1938)
6.4 The Shadow (1940)
6.5 The Shadow Returns, etc. (1946)
Behind the Mask (1946)
The Missing Lady (1946)
6.6 Invisible Avenger (1958)

 

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