Sunday, October 29, 2017

The Shadow's "Smoking Automatics!"

A description of The Shadow from one of the pulp magazines says, "He battles crime with thrills and chills, and smoking automatics."  In this article we'll take a look at the main weapon The Shadow uses in the pulps and in the 1994 move - his "smoking automatics!" 

Based on all the pictures I've seen of The Shadow's automatics, I have to conclude that they are a M1911 pistol.  The M1911 pistol was used by the U. S. military from 1911 until 1986.  It was a .45 caliber automatic pistol created by John Browning, produced by Colt, and approved for use with the military on March 20, 1911.  The military was in need of a high caliber, self-feeding, semi-automatic pistol and the Colt model passed the rigorous military tests and requirements with flying colors.  These automatics first saw action in World War I when over 68,000 of them were sent to our troops.  It makes sense that The Shadow (Kent Allard) would use this weapon, as he was a WWI veteran and probably used one quite frequently in his war-time activities!

July 1, 1934 Issue of The Shadow

Let me share my personal experience with the M1911 and automatics from my days in the military.  I had to qualify with the M1911 when I went through Basic Armor Training at Fort Knox, KY in the early '80s.  I remember the M1911 had a lot of kick to it but it was a great weapon to fire.  I also spent several years as an Air Force Security Forces member and carried a revolver (.38 caliber) until the Air Force transitioned us to the automatic M9 Beretta.  I have to say that I felt a lot more comfortable carrying an automatic than carrying a revolver!  Reloading a revolver takes more time and the double-action trigger could lead to inaccuracies when shooting.  With an automatic, reloading time is quicker and the single/double action trigger enabled more accurate shooting.  

If I was The Shadow facing a mob of mobsters and their blazing gats, I would much prefer automatic pistols.  They would give me an advantage in accuracy and reload speed, things The Shadow would want in his war on crime!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

The Temple Bells of Neban

On October 24, 1937 The Shadow radio program aired the story, "The Temple Bells of Neban."  It was the fifth episode in the first season of the radio show.  It is one of my favorite Shadow radio episodes!

The story begins with Lamont Cranston and Margo Lane on their way to the Club Khalif to enjoy an evening out.  On their way, they discuss the opium problem that has been impacting the city and that The Shadow needs to get involved. 

At the Club, they are entertained by an Indian dancer named Saadi Bel Adda (I've not been able to find the correct spelling for this character any where.)  She entertains the crowd with the Dance of the Cobra where she seems to mesmerize a live cobra on stage.  Saadi Bel Adda approaches Lamont and Margo's table, offering Margo a bracelet.  Lamont and Saadi talk briefly yet cryptically - have they met before?

After the show, The Shadow pays a visit to Saadi Bel Adda.  Saadi warns The Shadow that she can command The Temple Bells of Neban, a powerful spell that will reveal The Shadow and disable him from clouding the minds of men!

Lamont speaks with Margo about his encounter with Saadia Bel Adda, and Margo is worried.  Lamont recounts where he first learned the power to cloud men's minds.  He tells Margo, "Years ago in India, a yogi priest, keeper of the Temple of the Cobras at Delhi taught me the ancient mysteries.  He taught me the mesmeric trick that the underworld calls invisibility.  There was a small girl, his niece, that use to sit and listen...she was very clever..."  Yes - Saadi Bel Adda was the niece of the yogi priest that taught Lamont Cranston!

The radio show reaches it's climax when The Shadow confronts Saadi Bel Adda.  Saadi releases her cobra and begins to command The Temple Bells of Neban to destroy The Shadow's invisibilty.  But unbeknownst to Saaid, The Shadow had switched her de-fanged cobra for one with fangs.  The cobra bites Saadi Bel Adda before she can command the Temple Bells of Neban.

This is only a brief summary of the show and I encourage you to give it a listen!  I really enjoy this episode as it not only puts The Shadow up against a foe with equal powers, it also gives us insight into how Lamont Cranston learned the mesmeric trick to cloud men's minds!

Saturday, October 21, 2017

The Shadow's Secret Code Magazine Cover!

I found something that was pretty interesting!  On the cover of The Shadow magazine #65 (published on November 1, 1934) The Shadow discloses a secret code!

The secret code is on the left side of the cover in the white Chinese letters on the red banner.  How do we know it's a secret code?  Maxwell Grant, The Shadow's raconteur, was allowed to share it with the readers.  Here is the secret code as The Shadow revealed it to Mr. Grant:

It's little things like these that make me really enjoy reading The Shadow's adventures!  I wonder how many other codes and hidden gems I've overlooked as I've read the stories!

Friday, October 20, 2017

The Shadow Magazine #195

One of my goals as a fan of The Shadow was to have at least one copy of an original Shadow pulp magazine.  A few months ago I fulfilled that goal when I was able to purchase a copy of The Shadow magazine #195 which published on April 1, 1940.  It featured the story, "The Spy Ring" written by Walter B. Gibson.  (And in keeping with all of The Shadow stories, according to the table of contents it was written "as told to Maxwell Grant.")

I wanted a copy for my collection so I could see for myself what Shadow fan's would see in the pages of an original magazine.  What would the ads look like?  What other articles would there be?  It was pretty exciting to thumb through the magazine, and I would like to share it with you on my blog.  Here are some photos and notes from The Shadow #195!

The cover is classic Shadow - slouch hat, cloak and .45 in hand!  It had a copy price of 10 cents and the date of April 1, 1940.  

The table of contents announces a complete Shadow novel of The Spy told to Maxwell Grant!  It also lists other 'thrilling stories and features.'

Here is the awesome splash page of the main story, and an example of the interior artwork.  These are awesome!  

"Highlights on The Shadow" gives readers a taste for the story in the magazine and some information on events coming in the next issue!

I found the information in "The Shadow Club" very interesting!  It provides readers with the list of license plates from the various states and US territories and gives the colors of the numerals and the backgrounds for each.  It tells us that this was a popular feature that readers requested and was published annually!  Another portion of this section also provided information on counterfeit money.  It also had a coupon you could cut out and mail in to become a member of The Shadow club!  (I wish there was still one today!)

The last section features secret codes for readers to solve.  As you know, The Shadow used secret ink, codes, and cryptograms when communicating with his agents.  This is a nice touch and fans must have loved it!

Here's the back cover full page ad.  Within the magazine were lots of other ads, some of which were for products still on the market today like Pepsi Cola, Butterfingers candy bars and Listerine mouth wash!

I hope you've enjoyed a brief look inside the pages of The Shadow magazine!  

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Harry Vincent: The Shadow's Agent

Illustration of Harry Vincent from The Shadow pulp magazine.

Harry Vincent is the first agent of The Shadow mentioned in the first Shadow story, "The Living Shadow" (published April 1, 1931).  However, we learn that he is not the first agent enlisted by The Shadow.  This article will give a brief biography of Harry Vincent based on what I've learned about him in The Shadow stories I've read so far.

Harry Vincent is a young man from Michigan who apparently went to New York City to make it big.  He hasn't seen his family in years, and has fallen on hard times.  Almost all he owns is in hock, and has only $1.13 to his name.  Then, he receives a letter from his girlfriend back home telling him she got married to another man.  That was it - that was the last straw for Harry Vincent.  

Despondent to the point of despair, Harry now attempts suicide by jumping of a mist shrouded bridge.  But Harry's life is saved at the last minute by the strong hands of a mysterious figure cloaked in black.  This personage grabs Harry just as Harry's hands turn lose from the bridge railing and pull him to safety.  Harry was saved by The Shadow!

The Shadow ushers Harry into a car and both asks Harry questions and reveals he has knowledge of Harry's life already.  After some talk, The Shadow tells Harry, "Your life is no longer your own.  It belongs to me now."  Harry asks what The Shadow will do with his life, and The Shadow responds, "I shall improve it.  I shall make it useful.  But I shall risk it, too.  Perhaps I shall lose it, for I have lost lives, just as I have saved them.  This is my promise: life, with enjoyment, with danger, with excitement, and - with money.  Life, above all, with honor.  But if I give it, I demand obedience.  Absolute obedience.  You may accept my terms, or you may refuse.  I shall wait for you to choose."

Harry give brief thought to The Shadow's request, and accepts the terms.  The Shadow responds, "Remember the, obedience.  That must come always.  I do not ask for cleverness, for strength or skill, although I want them, and will expect them to the best of your ability."  Harry is then immediately sent on his first assignment!

As one of The Shadow's agents, Harry must learn and use The Shadow's system and methods of communication.  We learn that Harry knows about communications, wireless telegraphy, and Morse code.  These skills and others make him one of The Shadow's most trusted agents!

It was very powerful to see how The Shadow rescued Harry from suicide and offering him a life filled with excitement, danger and honor.  Harry has become my personal favorite agent of The Shadow.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

The Shadow's Agents

In his war on crime, The Shadow has enlisted the services of several men and women.  They are known as The Shadow's agents!  These agents are the eyes and ears of The Shadow, gathering intel whether it's from criminals and gangsters or from newspaper clippings.  They provide information and also perform key tasks on behalf of The Shadow.  

In upcoming articles I will try and give a brief biography of each one of The Shadow's agents.  For now, let me provide a list of their names.

  • Harry Vincent
  • Claude Fellows
  • Burbank
  • Cliff Marsland
  • Hawkeye
  • Clyde Burke
  • Rutledge Mann
  • Moe Shrevnitz
  • Jericho Druke
  • Margo Lane
  • Dr. Roy Tam

The list varies based on where you look!  In many of The Shadow pulp magazine reprints I have it appears that in many of the stories there was always a list and very brief summary of them.  

Throughout the printed history of The Shadow's pulps, the list grew as new agents were added.  For example, Harry Vincent became an agent in the very first Shadow story ("The Living Shadow") and Claude Fellows had already been an agent for some time when Harry meets him.  The agent Burbank made his first appearance in "The Eyes of The Shadow" which was the second Shadow story published.

Some of the agents made their way into the 1994 Shadow movie.  There you'll find Margo Lane, Moe Shrevnitz, Burbank, and Dr. Roy Tam.

Moe Shrevnitz in the pulp magazines

Peter Boyle plays Moe Shrevnitz in the 1994 The Shadow movie

Margo Lane was the only one of The Shadow's agents that came into the pulps by way of The Shadow radio show!  Margo's character was created for the radio show, and finally made her way into the pulp magazines.

These agents of The Shadow have some great back-stories on their own, and they play key roles in helping The Shadow fight crime and thwart criminals.  I'm looking forward to writing more about them in the near future!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

The Shadow: Biography According to the 1994 Movie

In the pulp magazines, Kent Allard is The Shadow and Lamont Cranston is The Shadow of the radio program.   In this article I will take a look at The Shadow's biography according to the 1994 Shadow movie which starred Alec Baldwin.

Much of what we know of The Shadow we learn in the first few minutes of the movie and in conversations with other characters throughout the film.  We find that a man named Lamont Cranston is living in Tibet and is known as the notorious drug lord Ying Ko and "The Butcher of Llasa."  He is a heartless man with no qualms about killing anyone.  We learn that Lamont Cranston had fought in World War I and after the war had gone missing for 7 years.    Those missing seven years were spent traveling the world and eventually settling in Tibet as an opium dealer.  

Lamont Cranston is kidnapped by a Tibetan holy man, a Tulku, who not only knows Cranston's real name, but knows the depth of the blackness in his heart.  The Tulku offers Lamont redemption for his evil ways, and ultimately Lamont accepts it.  The Tulku tells Cranston, "I also know that for as long as you can remember, you struggled against your own black heart and always lost. You watched your spirit, your very face change as the beast claws its way out from within you. You are in great pain, aren't you?  You know what evil lurks in the hearts of men, for you have seen that evil in your own...I will teach you to use your black shadow to fight evil."

In the move, we are told on the screen, "The price of redemption for Cranston was to take up man's struggle against evil.  The Tulku taught him to cloud men's minds, to fog their vision through the force of concentration, leaving visible the only thing he can never hide..his Shadow.  Thus armed, Cranston returned to his homeland..."  Cranston returns to New York City where we further learn that he is a man of great wealth and social status.

The Shadow's abilities in the movie are similar to what he has in both the pulp magazines and the radio show.  He is a master of hand-to-hand combat, a marksman with weapons, and has great psychic abilities.  His psychic abilities allow him to cloud men's minds so as to be invisible, he can read minds, hypnotize people, and has the power of telekinesis.

Alec Baldwin as The Shadow

I noted a couple of things I saw in the movie that fans may have overlooked.  First, when Lamont Cranston sees the Tulku's monastary, it is in the shape of a cobra.  I think this ties in with the radio episode of "The Temple Bells of Neban" where it's disclosed that The Shadow learned his mystic powers from a yogi who was the keeper of the Temple of the Cobras.  Second, it seems like Cranston transforms into The Shadow and this is similar to how it is described in the Belmont books series of The Shadow.  There are a few other 'Easter eggs' in the movie for Shadow fans and I'll try to write about them at a later date.

According to the 1994 movie, The Shadow is Lamont Cranston, a wealthy young man who is a WWI veteran and redeemed drug lord that uses his great powers and abilities to fight the forces of evil!

Alec Baldwin as Lamont Cranston

Sunday, October 1, 2017

The Shadow: Biography According to the Radio Program

I've written previously about the real identity of The Shadow based on the pulp magazines which you can read here.  In this article I want to look at The Shadow's biography based on the radio program.  The Shadow radio program aired from September of 1937 until December of 1954.  There were some key differences between The Shadow on radio and The Shadow in print.  On the radio, it was only The Shadow and Margo Lane who solved the mysteries and crimes.  In print, The Shadow was aided by his agents who were The Shadow's eyes and ears, providing him with key information and clues.  On radio, only Margo Lane knew the true identity of The Shadow.

Who is The Shadow on the radio program?  Let me answer that in the words from a few episodes of the radio program.  In the very first radio show we are simply told this, "...The Shadow, a man of mystery who strikes terror in the very souls of sharpsters, lawbreakers, and criminals." (Death House Rescue)  That tells us what The Shadow does, but doesn't tell us who he is!  But in the introduction to the radio episode 'The Curse of Siva' we get the answer to who The Shadow really is.  We are told, "The Shadow, a mysterious character who aids the forces of law and order, is in reality Lamont Cranston, wealthy young man-about-town.  As The Shadow, Cranston is gifted with hypnotic power to cloud men's minds so they cannot see him.  Cranston's friend and companion, the lovely Margo Lane, is the only person to whom the voice of the invisible Shadow belongs." 

So now we know that the radio program version of The Shadow is Lamont Cranston.  We also now know that he has hypnotic powers that aid him in his fight against crime.  But where did Lamont Cranston get such powers?  Lamont Cranston tells us himself in several episodes!  Here is what he discloses to Margo Lane.  "Would they approve my methods?  Would they believe in my science?  Why do you think I've devoted countless hours to investigating electric and chemical phenomenon?  Why do you think I went to India, to Egypt, to China? Why do you think I studied in London, Paris,  and Vienna except to learn the old mysteries that modern science has not yet rediscovered, the natural magic modern psychology is beginning to understand? Well, magic that wouldn't seem so natural.  I studied and learned for a purpose."  Lamont Cranston devoted much travel, time and effort into learning ways he can aid the forces of law and order!

Furthermore, in the radio show "The Temple Bells of Neban" we learn exactly where The Shadow learned his hypnotic powers.  Lamont Cranston tells us, "Years ago in India, a yogi priest, keeper of the Temple of the Cobras at Delhi taught me the ancient mysteries.  He taught me the mesmeric trick that the underworld calls invisibility."  It was in Delhi, India that Cranston learned and mastered the hypnotic power to cloud men's minds!  This fact was also alluded to in the episode "The Shadow Challenged!"

According to The Shadow radio program, The Shadow is Lamont Cranston, a wealthy young man who has invested his life in learning the old mysteries and new sciences so that he can right wrongs, bring justice to criminals, and aid law enforcement.  As The Shadow, he strikes fear into the very souls of criminals and has become the underworld's number one target to eliminate!