Saturday, June 23, 2018

Some Observations About the 1994 The Shadow Movie

I was watching The Shadow movie a few days ago and noticed some thing that I hadn't seen before and some things that I thought were interesting.  Here they are.

I noticed that the very first time Lamont Cranston appears on the screen, he is totally engulfed in the shadows.  I'm not sure if this was intentional or not, but I hadn't really paid attention to it until now.  I think it's interesting that he begins in the shadows and then becomes The Shadow!

I also noticed there are two tattoos on the fingers of his left hand.  This is the only time I see them, when Lamont Cranston becomes The Shadow, I don't think they appear.  I've done a little bit of checking to see if the symbols might have been taken from one of The Shadow pulps or what they mean, and so far have come up with nothing!  My guess is they say Ying Ko, but I could be wrong!

We know The Shadow has a network of agents.  In the beginning of the movie we see how The Shadow rescues Dr. Roy Tam and makes him an agent.  But throughout the movie we see other agents that pop up here and there.  Here's one of them, a police officer from the 26th precinct.  Notice he has an agent ring on his finger.  

The Shadow's agent from the 26th precinct delivers his message into the mail slot of an office door marked "B. Jonas."  This is directly from the pulps and was a fantastic touch to the movie!

Here's a shot of the report the police officer sent to Burbank.  I thought this was pretty cool and it makes me think of how Burbank, in the pulps and in this move, collects reports from other agents and passes the information on to The Shadow.  I love the last sentence, "Agent advises inquiry."

These are just a few observations and comments, hopefully I'll have more in the next coming weeks!

Monday, June 18, 2018

The Shadow: Biography According to the Belmont Book Series

I consider the Belmont Books Shadow series to be a different iteration of The Shadow and not as a continuation of the stories from the pulp magazines.  I don't say that to diminish these stories because they are interesting and entertaining.  However, The Shadow in these stories is quite different than the ones from the pulps and the radio.  While there are many similarities, there are also major differences.  (Please note that the information below is based on descriptions of The Shadow from The Shadow Strikes.)

The Shadow in the Belmont Books is a man of mystery.  He wears the black cloak, the black slouch hat, and the girasol ring.  His footwear is described as "...Oriental slippers, designed for the needs of judo and karate..." (The Shadow Strikes page 67).  These Oriental slippers allow The Shadow to make no sound as he walks.  The Shadow also carries a .45 automatic and keeps a ring of skeleton keys hidden in the folds of his cloak.  The Shadow's cloak, hat and ring are "folded into amazingly small size and hidden in their secret places within the clothes" of Lamont Cranston (The Shadow Strikes page 12).

A major difference about this Shadow is that he has to wear the cloak, hat, and ring to become The Shadow.  For it is only when he wears these items that he has the full powers and abilities of The Shadow!

The Shadow is described as having great muscular control, physical strength, agility, balance and hearing.  He has knowledge of many languages (The Shadow Strikes pages 30, 59).  He had studied in the Orient with several masters.  From the great Chen T'a Tze he learned the ability to cloud men's minds so as not to see him and to hypnotize them (but can only do so when wearing the cloak, hat and ring).  Master Chen T'a Tze had also taught him the art of shallow breathing, allowing him to slow down his breathing.  The Shadow has "remarkable recuperative powers" and knowledge of Oriental medicine that allows him to quickly recover from physical injury.

Additionally, in the Orient, The Shadow learned "the secret of bearing pain to the point of actually not feeling any but the most intense and sudden pain.  It had been the most difficult of the mysteries of Chen T'a Tze for The Shadow to master" (The Shadow Strikes page 82).  The Shadow is also able to put himself into a trance-like state of suspended animation that makes him appear as if he had died.   Not much information is provided about Chen T'a Tze other than he was a great Master who had trained Lamont Cranston in many ancient mysteries.

Some of the descriptions of The Shadow hearken back to the pulp magazine.  His face is not seen but his glowing, burning eyes can be.  The Shadow gives his sometimes mocking and sometimes triumphant laugh which chills the blood of the bad guys.  The Shadow is also a master of disguise.    

The Shadow's primary alter-ego is Lamont Cranston.  As Cranston, he is wealthy socialite business man, amateur criminologist, and close friend of NY Police Commissioner Weston.  In the book Cranston is described as having hawklike features, long fingers, and greying blond hair.  He has a private office in a Park Avenue building which also doubles as his secret base of operations.  Cranston also owns a town house with a private garage.  He is a wine connoisseur and has financed Kent Allard's expeditions.  This Lamont Cranston seems to be an amalgamation of the Cranston from the pulps and radio show!

Kent Allard is the other alter-ego used by The Shadow.  There is a real Kent Allard who is an explorer and adventurer, so The Shadow assumes his identity.  To become Kent Allard, The Shadow uses a sophisticated disguise (The Shadow Strikes pages 102-103)!  He uses a special dye to darken his hair and combs his hair straight back with no part.  If he has time, he will grow a mustache or use a fake mustache if in a hurry.  He injects a small wax-like fluid into the skin of his nose to change it from the hawklike nose of Cranston and into the thicker nose of Allard.  He uses his great muscle control to change his facial expression to that of Allard's and to walk slightly hunched over as Allard does due to the years of carrying heavy packs on his expeditions.  Finally, when disguised as Allard, The Shadow walks with a limp as the real Allard does as a result of a tiger attack while exploring the High Himalayas.  This is a clever reversal from the pulp magazines!  In the pulps, The Shadow is really Kent Allard but uses Lamont Cranston's identity.

The Shadow of the Belmont Books series is an interesting character that retains some of the qualities found in the pulps and the radio show.  However, you can see there's a lot of differences as well.  In my opinion, this Shadow was in direct competition with the likes of James Bond and other spies that were popular in the movies and on TV when this series was published (1960s).   

Saturday, June 9, 2018

The Shadow Magazine #275

Recently I was able to add another original Shadow magazine to my collection.  It is the January 1944 issue (the 275th issue in The Shadow series) which features the story, "The Mystery of the Crystal Skull."

When I first opened the package it came in, I was surprised!  The magazine was so much smaller than other issues I have.  It is physically smaller, as you can see in the picture below where I compare it with the July 1, 1941 issue.  It has 130 pages compared to the July '41 issue that has 114 pages.   By this time The Shadow was no longer a bi-monthly publication as beginning with the March 1943 issue, it had transitioned to monthly publication.  (Based on some research I did, the paper shortage during WW2 had a significant impact on magazines and comics published during the war years.   Paper, gasoline, rubber and even food was rationed during the war years.  Please see this brief article here for some good info!)

The magazine's cover tells us what the inside story is, "The Mystery of the Crystal Skull."  The artwork shows a skull, but I notice that The Shadow is missing!  The price is 15 cents - that's up from the 10 cent price of the 1941 issue.

The table of contents indicates it features a full novel length story of The Shadow and two novelettes (short stories).  It also has several special features, including Codes by Henry Lysing.  I personally wish the Codes section of The Shadow magazine would be included in The Shadow reprints that are available.  Finally, it has a feature called The Shadow Says.  What I don't see is any reference to The Shadow Club or Highlights on The Shadow as have been in other issues.

Here are some pages from inside the magazine.  (Sorry the pictures aren't that great.  The binding on this issue is starting to come apart so I was being careful to not cause any more damage.)

The back cover is a full page ad for Calvert.

Inside are ads for Listerine and Gillette, and a reminder from Uncle Sam on price controls for the war effort.

I found most interesting the feature called The Shadow Says which is on page 6.  It leads me to believe that this issue may have been the first, or one of the first, issues that were a smaller size (what they call a 'handy size.')  It says, "In the transition from the larger book, to this present handy size, many adjustments were necessary."  Another interesting part of The Shadow Says is a defense of the character Margo Lane!  If you remember, Margo Lane was first a character on The Shadow radio show that began in 1937.  She made her first appearance in The Shadow magazine in the June 15, 1941 issue.  Newer fans to The Shadow loved her appearance in the pulp while other long-time Shadow fans hated her inclusion.  Well, it appears there are still complaints about the lovely Margo Lane in 1944!  It says in part, "Now we come to Margo Lane!  Good old Margo is in trouble again with some readers and defended by others."  The writer does a good job of painting a picture of the love/hate relationship fans have with Margo!

This issue of The Shadow magazine was an eye opener for me!  It gives us insight into what was happening in our nation during the war and its impact on The Shadow magazine.  It also shows the on-going controversy of including Margo Lane in The Shadow magazine!

Sunday, June 3, 2018

The Shadow's Personal Physician

This weekend I was reading The Shadow story, "The Thunder King" (first published on June 15, 1941) and came across an interesting Shadow fact!

In the story, The Shadow, disguised as Lamont Cranston, is injured and taken to a hospital.  The Shadow knows he must get out of the hospital to continue his hunt for the vicious criminal of the story.  That's when we learn the following:

"Dr. Rupert Sayre was Cranston's physician, which meant, in a sense, that he was in The Shadow's service.  In fact, if it hadn't been for The Shadow, Dr. Sayre would never have had Cranston as a patient.  Nor would Sayre have had the very fine practice that came from Cranston's friends.

In fact, Sayre wouldn't even be alive.  He owed his life to The Shadow, who had pulled him out of a very bad jam several years before.

As a result, Sayre was always ready to do favors for The Shadow, or for Lamont Cranston, for he knew that they were either one and the same man, or very closely associated."*

I've not done any further research, but I don't believe Dr. Sayre was considered one of The Shadow's agents.  But he did owe his life to The Shadow, just like almost every one of his agents!  Like many of those close to The Shadow, he believed Cranston was The Shadow (Henry Vincent thought this as well!).  I thought this was a very interesting Shadow fact tucked away in this story! 

* The Thunder King and The Star of Delhi: Two Classic Adventures of The Shadow, by Maxwell Grant et al., vol. 68, Sanctum Books, 2012