The Shadow is a fictional character predominantly created by Walter B. Gibson in 1931 in a semimonthly series of pulp magazines. The character is one of the most famous of the pulp heroes of the 1930s and 1940s — made most famous through a popular radio series in which The Shadow was originally played by Orson Welles. The Shadow has also been featured in comic books, comic strips, television, and at least seven motion pictures. Still, The Shadow is most highly regarded for its radio years, in which pulp crime fiction received perhaps its most compelling broadcast interpretation.
Even after decades, the unmistakable introduction from The Shadow, intoned by announcer Frank Readick, has earned a place in the American idiom: "Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows!"
The Shadow was long believed to have debuted on radio as a program in its own right in 1937, on the Mutual Broadcasting System. But the character actually premiered over CBS airwaves on 1930. When Frank Readick assumed the role of the Shadow, it became a national sensation He gave it "a hauntingly sibilant quality that thrilled radio listeners."
Once The Shadow joined Mutual as a half-hour series, it did not leave Sunday evenings radio until 1954, outlasting the magazine that gave birth to it: The Shadow Magazine ended with the summer 1949 issue.
The movie The Shadow Strikes was released in 1937, starring Rod Larocque in the title role. Larocque returned the following year in International Crime, although in this version "The Shadow" was merely a radio gimmick. Both were released by Grand National Pictures.
In 1994, The Shadow was recast once again in a big-budget feature film, The Shadow, starring Alec Baldwin as Lamont Cranston/The Shadow.
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1. The Shadow Strikes (1937) – Rod La Rocque:
Lamont Cranston (Rod La Rocque) assumes his secret identity as "The Shadow", to break up an attempted robbery at an attorney's office. When the police search the scene, Cranston must assume the identity of the attorney. Before he can leave, a phone call summons the attorney to the home of Delthern, a wealthy client, who wants a new will drawn up. As Cranston meets with him, Delthern is suddenly shot, and Cranston is quickly caught up in a new mystery.
2. The Shadow in International Crime (1938) – Rod LaRocque:
Lamont Cranston (The Shadow), amateur criminologist and detective, with a daily radio program, sponsored by the Daily Classic newspaper, has developed a friendly feud that sometimes passes the friendly stage with Police Commissioner Weston (Thomas Jackson.)
3. The Shadow Returns (1945) - Kane Richmond
Lamont Cranston, aka The Shadow (Richard Derr), investigates the murder of a New Orleans bandleader
5a. The Shadow - 15 Chapter Movie Serial (1940) - Victor Jory
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The Shadow (1940) was the ninth serial released by Columbia Pictures. It was based upon the classic radio series and pulp magazine character with the same name. The Black Tiger, a mystery villain with the power to become invisible, attempts to take over the city. The Shadow stops him.
The credits specified the serial was "Based upon stories published in "The Shadow Magazine", while the ads proclaimed it to be "right out of the air waves and magazine stories." What appeared was a mixture of both with Lamont Cranston the true identity of The Shadow, although Lamont Cranston was only an occasional disguise of the pulp magazine Shadow. The hypnotic invisibility of the radio character was completely ignored, as was the almost invisible "Living Shadow" of the pulps.
The Shadow is a 15-episode serial in which scientist Lamont Cranston (Victor Jory) dons the garb of The Shadow to track down the elusive -- and indeed, invisible -- villain known only as The Black Tiger. As the serial begins, The Black Tiger is waging a campaign of terror that includes destroying trains, planes, and factories. This is only the beginning, however, as world domination -- to be achieved through the use of a mysterious death ray -- is his ultimate goal. The Shadow infiltrates the ranks of the villain's gang, disguised as a crook and calling himself Lin Chang. This helps The Shadow gain important information, although practically every time he seems about to make real progress, the gangsters manage to derail his plans. Things are not made easier by the police, who do not know that The Shadow is on their side and suspect that he is actually The Black Tiger. Eventually, The Shadow discovers the identity of The Black Tiger and brings an end to his evil reign.
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