The Shadow knows

Mike Nelson of Mystery Science Theater 3000 Reviews:

The Shadow

The weed of crime bears bitter fruit
Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? This big-screen adaptation of the popular 1930's comic strip and radio show stars Alec Baldwin as Lamont Cranston, a heroic crime fighter out to stop his arch enemy, Shiwan Khan a madman who plans to hold the world hostage with a powerful atom weapon. Thankfully, Lamont has a few tricks up his sleeve including invisibility and his famous power to cloud men's minds. Shadow movie poster I think you got him boss Click here to stop the music playing
This stylish feature, which also stars John Lone (of "Iceman") and Penelope Ann Miller (of "The Relic"), was directed by Russell Mulcahy (of Highlander fame).
Additional cast: Jonathan Winters as the Commissioner, Tim Curry of Rocky Horror Picture Show as Khan's N.Y. partner and Peter Boyle of Young Frankenstein as the Shadow's taxi driver Moe (Shrevy in the pulps).

Now here's Mike Nelson:

"The film begins by showing how Ying Ko (Baldwin), an industrious and committed Chinese opium dealer, is kidnapped and then bullied into becoming Lamont Cranston by a do-good holy man. The holy man espouses a kind of vague philosophy ("we are all light and shadow") but never gets down to brass tacks--is he Presbyterian, Missouri-Synod Lutheran? We never learn. Neither do we learn why Alec Baldwin is accepted by other Chinese opium dealers as one of their own, never once inquiring, "Hey, why are we listening to that guy from Massapequa again?"

"Once converted to the holy man's ways, Ying Ko is taught, according to an on-screen slate, "to cloud men's minds--to fog their vision thru force of concentration, leaving visible the only thing he can never hide: his shadow." How does that amount to a philosophy of good? What if I just went around clouding men's minds, stealing their Land Rovers and calfskin briefcases, and then claiming, "Well, I was just fogging their minds?"

"Getting back to The Shadow, the holy man outpaces his new charge, now named Lamont Cranston (after the mediocre blues band that had a hit with Upper Mississippi Shakedown), in New York City, giving him vague instructions to fight crime. He does what he can with this limited "fogging men's minds" power, but mostly he beats up doughy mobsters and laughs that annoying laugh of his. You know, the one that's supposed to be mysterious but just comes off as kind of forced. Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? Ha ha ha ha ha ha... Yeah, okay. The Shadow knows, though The Shadow seems to be having a lot more fun with it than the rest of us."

"He enlists a web of informants by pretending to be magnanimously saving their lives, but then shanghais them into his less-than-profitable organization. He's obviously aware of the limitations of his "fogging men's minds" power and is smart enough to know he needs damn good reconnaissance. He initiates communication with his web by reciting the completely inconspicuous line "The sun is shining," to which the informant must respond, "Yes, but the ice is slippery," a line that works 67% of the time in late December thru mid-January and then begins to show its strain."

The lonely Cranston meets a woman (Penelope Ann Miller) and is immediately intrigued with her because she can read men's thoughts. That's fine for him, but frankly, what woman can't read a man's thoughts? Even if she had no innate ability to read men's minds and guessed "I'd really like some ham," she'd be right most of the time. Try, "Boy, that Roy Firestone is funny," and the percentage shoots even higher."

"The Shadow's trouble begins when Shiwan Khan (John Lone), the last survivor of Genghis Khan (not counting Ricardo Montalban in ST2: The Wrath of Khan of course), comes to New York via a large aluminum sarcophagus in order to explode the atom bomb and take over the world. Please don't ask me who Shiwan Khan is or where he came from. It seems to be a holdover from the comic book version, and those comic book guys get really mad if you question anything. All I know is Shiwan Khan has the power to hypnotize virtually anyone he wants, and is not limited to merely "fogging men's minds." Cranston finds Shiwan in the Monolith Hotel, which Khan has hidden by hypnotizing every single person in New York City, even the guy who burned my white dress shirt and refused to pay for it."

"Shiwan and Cranston do battle, flinging sharp things at each other's skulls by using the method of concentration taught by their mutual friend "the holy man." I have no desire to raise a contentious issue, but aren't holy men, even those of the most obscure and unpopular sects, forbidden from flinging razor-sharp slivers of glass into other men's motor cortexes?"

"That remains my big stumbling block with The Shadow--I don't believe he's good just because the movie asserts that he is. He punches, shoots, and stabs people. I see no community work, no tithing or fasting; the guy's a spiritual mess."

"If Ying Do/Lamont Cranston/The Shadow can get his stuff together and figure out what he stands for, I'm ready to sit in front of the warm glow of the Philco with a bowl of treacle and wait for episode two."

Also out on DVD:
"You've Got Mail" (1998) is allegedly based on an old movie and play (Little Shop Around The Corner), but was, in reality, based on a WAV file attachment in the America Online software. That WAV file doesn't hold up as a full-length movie. It should have been expanded to a JPEG file and shown to test audiences before making the leap to film."

Doc Savage, The Man Of Bronze movie, this is an authorized fan-edit that came out on DVD with all the campy sound effects taken out. You might want to skip the opening 5 minutes of slowly scrolling text that has been added by the fan and look at that part later. A great new open has been added to the movie as an old newsreel explaining Doc Savage and his men. Start with that and then continue with the movie itself. According to the two Doc Savage movie scripts I have, the bit at the very end of the movie was a lead-in to the never-made sequel "Death In Silver" about a gang that used silver chain-mail as bullet-proof vests to rob banks Alec Baldwin can also be seen in Malice (1993) "I am God!"

Is This The End?

"The Shadow" is available on DVD
The Shadow TV-episode (1954)
Many are unaware of this but upon the cancellation of the Shadow Radio Show in 1954, a half hour pilot for a Shadow TV series was filmed. The pilot however never sold and never aired.
In this pilot episode, Lamont Cranston, a psychiatrist on retainer to the police department, is asked to assist in the Case of the Cotton Kimono murder investigation. Lamont and his girlfriend Margot Lane are not satisfied with Detective Harris' analysis and call on the two prime suspects: the victim's voice instructor and her boyfriend. When Harris, convinced that the boyfriend is guilty, frames the young man for the crime, Lamont is forced to assume his secret identity as "The Shadow", and cloaked by his power of invisibility, seeks to force the true killer to reveal himself.

The Shadow's Peril The Shadow battles a villain known as The Black Tiger, who has the power to make himself invisible and is trying to take over the world with his death ray, Serial Chapter 3

40 episodes of the original radio series are available: The Shadow: Greatest Radio Adventures on tape or CD (episode list on page 2

Books by Michael Nelson available from Amazon include Movie Megacheese (now out of print). Mike's episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000 are also available on video and on DVD

The last time I checked they had several used copies of Megacheese for sale. I won't sell you my copy. Don't even ask. I haven't read the Jackie Chan chapter yet, or even the Van Damme chapter and you know how much I like Van Dammege. "The Muscles from Brussels. Kick boxer. Actor. Restauranteur. Dumber than a bag of hammers...Makes Steven Seagal look like Richard Burbage." Well ok, I did read the intro to the Van Damme chapter...

"The Shadow" airs from time to time on the SciFi Channel and USA Network

The Shadow older website
Back to Monstervision or Scifans

Or visit The Spirit of the Golden Age of Comics

Or The Phantom: "The Ghost Who Walks, The Man Who Will Never Die"

For issue #11 of The Shadow/Doc Savage Quest send $5 to Bill Laidlaw, Box 3, Arroyo Grande CA 93421-0003

Outside USA include $2 for postage
Note: If you didn't like Mike's review of "The Shadow," please understand that he has been having nightmares lately where he rips his face off and underneath he's another person - John Travolta
But that's another movie...

Click here to hear The Shadow movie theme again, or right-click to save a copy of it

Penelope Ann Miller also stars in "The Relic," another movie where the script writer found a word or phrase he really liked and beat it to death. Joe Bob's 1997 review of "The Relic" (seen recently on the SciFi Channel)

More about the Shadow movie

The Shadow Magazine (1931-1949)

Alec Baldwin also starred as a detective in the MonsterVision movie Heaven's Prisoners

2000 Michael J. Nelson. All rights reserved, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles & reviews. Mike Nelson is no relation to Lloyd Bridges and has never run low on air while hunting around under the sea.

~~~~~~~~ I think you got him, Duke ............................................... Full of secrets ~~~~~~~~

December 2006 - Sam Raimi doing Shadow Remake
Sam Raimi is producing a remake of the Shadow, the hit radio show that got turned into a movie starring Alex Baldwin. The Shadow had lots of potential and Sam Raimi is the man when it comes to quirky films. Quote from AICN: "Sam's biggest passion from their catalogue is THE SHADOW. Prior to Alec Baldwin getting a nose in on the gig, Raimi was attempting to get the property at Universal - with the Coen Brothers set to write it up for him to direct. That fell through...I've heard that Raimi has been taking meetings with various directors to discuss a possible DOC SAVAGE film. But closer to home, I've heard that Raimi had found a writer for his THE SHADOW movie, but that no commitments were in hand, as of yet." The Doc Savage film remake fell through when star Arnold Schwarzenegger decided to run for governor of California. By the way, doesn't that great theme-song remind you a little of the Darkman themesong?

Trivia from (the Internet Movie Data Base)

* When Lamont and Margo are kissing at the end of the film, a truck can be seen in the background bearing the last name of director Russell Mulcahy.

* The scene in which The Shadow rescues Dr. Roy Tam on the bridge is taken from the opening of "The Living Shadow," the very first "Shadow" novel, in which The Shadow saves a man from suicide on the Brooklyn Bridge.

* The silver coffin of Temujin is from "The Masters of Death", the fourth Shadow pulp story to deal with Shiwan Khan, while the cigarette billboard that broadcasts Khan's commands comes from "The Golden Master." Camel Cigarettes actually built a billboard that blew smoke rings but only 2 were ever made, one for Times Square N.Y. and the other for Market Street in San Francisco

* When Commissioner Wainwright Barth arrives at the museum, he is told that "Inspector Cardona" is in charge of the investigation of the guard's death. In the pulps, Inspector Joe Cardona (the forerunner of Batman's Commissioner Gordon) was The Shadow's main ally on the New York police force.

* Though mostly known for comedy, Jonathan Winters played the dramatic role of pool hustler Fats Brown in an episode of The Twilight Zone and a National Guard General in the movie Viva Max in which Mexico retakes The Alamo in the present

* Tim Curry played the political officer in Hunt For Red October, but was first known in America for his outrageous character in Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)

* The empty office with "B. Jonas" on the door (supposedly located in a building somewhere on 23rd. Street in Manhattan) was the main dropbox for reports from The Shadow's agents in the pulps. These reports were collected by Burbank, The Shadow's contact man, who passed messages back and forth between The Shadow and his agents.

* The movie Shadow character is a combination of the radio show and the pulp magazine versions. The elements from the radio show are his ability to be become invisible, the appearance of Margo Lane and the establishment of Lamont Cranston as the Shadow's actual civilian identity. The pulp magazine elements include his costume, his network of agents at his disposal and his twin automatic pistols.

* When Shiwan Khan and Lamont Cranston first meet, their dialogue about where Cranston purchased his tie is a spoof on product placement during radio airings of The Shadow

* Moe's cab is shown having four exhaust ports on each side of the engine - presumably to show it has a V8 block, and considerable power - however several times throughout the film as the cab pulls away exhaust fumes can be seen coming from the rear of the vehicle where a normal exhaust pipe would be.

* Filming Locations: Alabama Hills, Lone Pine, California
Ambassador Hotel, 3400 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, Ca.
Mayfield Senior School, 500 Bellefontaine St., Pasadena, Ca.

* Released in Germany as "Shadow und der Fluch des Khan"

* The living knife (this photo is very large and detailed)

* There have been seven previous Shadow movies, none entirely based on the print novels or radio series:
The Shadow Strikes (1937)
International Crime (1938, this one's posted on YouTube)
The Shadow (1940)
Behind The Mask and The Missing Lady (both 1946)
The Shadow (1954 TV-movie)
The Invisible Avenger (1958 TV-movie)
The Shadow (2010 announced release year, Joshua Donen & F.J. DeSanto or Sam Raimi & Michael Uslan are the producers, no further info available), no relation to Dark Shadows 2010 starring Johnny Depp, based on the old TV-series
To cash in on the popularity of The Shadow on radio, there was a similar series called The Avenger. You can hear three of The Avenger stories here. Sorry, they don't have Shadow radio broadcasts due to copyright.

(if background music is still playing, click here to stop it)

What if the Shadow joined forces with the Phantom, the Green Hornet, and the Rocketeer? It might look like this

Rocketeer movie trailers

Sky Captain & the World of Tomorrow

Courtesy Paramount's Sky Captain website at

"Shadow" movie theme recreated in MIDI format by Steve's Movie Midis

See the movie trailer promo for The Shadow on Real Video at

Not to be confused with Doc Savage, the Man of Bronze

Stills from the movie (2 pages, JPG format)

Complete script of a 30-minute radio episode

Tribute to Lester Dent (Doc Savage)

Mad bomber bunny falls in love (cartoon)

Alec Baldwin can also be seen in Malice (1993) "I am God!"
According to Ripley's Believe It Or Not, a 105-story hotel in Pyongyang, North Korea, never opened and has sat empty for 15 years due to the bad economy there.

Thomas Barnett's Doc Savage fan site (archived in 2002 from Geocities)

Bill Laidlaw. All rights reserved. You need fuel. The Shadow knows.