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The Shadow Strikes
(1937 Film)

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Rod La Rocque- Lamont Granston/The Shadow
Norman Ainsley- Henry Hendricks
Lynn Anders (Agnes Anderson)- Marcia Delthern
James Blakely- Jasper Delthern (Marcia's brother, the unlucky gambler.)
Kenneth Harlan- Captain Breen
John St. Polis- Caleb Delthern (The first murdered man.)
Cy Kendall- Barney Grossett (The head gangster.)
Wilson Benge- Wellington the Butler (The man who killed Caleb Delthern.)
John Elliott- Chester Randall (The real one.)

The Shadow Strikes (1937)

    This is the first-ever Shadow movie attempt.  It's based on an actual Shadow story by Maxwell Grant (Walter B. Gibson) called "The Ghost of the Manor."  It's a good movie, but not a good Shadow movie.  What do I mean by that?  The Shadow is supposed to be a superhero; A detective more mysterious than Batman and with supernatural powers.  He is NOT that in this film.  This is a mystery movie where the character could have just as easily been called Sherlock Holmes or Charlie Chan.  This is NOT a superhero movie, but a mystery movie.  Be that as it may, this is STILL a good movie and it deserves mention for the fact that it's an interpretation of such an important superhero.

    Lamont Cranston only dresses up as the Shadow twice in this film, and then only for about a minute each time.  This film is only 62 minutes long, but the way they did it this proved to be long enough.

    There are a lot of things in this Shadow film that do not ring true in the Shadow magazines or radio shows of the period.  For one, Lamont Cranston is not a "wealthy young man about town" but an amateur criminologist.  For the entire movie he is posing as a lawyer named Chester Randall who was actually out of town on vacation.  The story starts with Cranston in the office of Randall trying to find information that would help him solve the mystery of who killed his father.  Two thugs of a gangster named Rossett break in looking for something (which we later find out is the will of the elderly murdered man).  Cranston (The Shadow) catches them for the police, but the police also catch him, in Cranston form, soon after.  To save himself, Cranston says he's Chester Randall.  All would have been fine and he could have parted company with the police detective, but Randall was called by Mr. Caleb Delthern, the soon-to-be-murdered man, on urgent will-updating business.  The police detective wanted to accompany "Randall" to the man's house so Cranston HAD to go.  He's not there for long when the man is actually murdered, and Cranston is stuck there AGAIN as Chester Randall.

    Once "Randall" was cleared he could have split and let the police take care of it, but he was charmed by the attractive niece of the dead man and wanted to solve this crime for her.  Of course, this detains Cranston from working on the case of his own murdered father.  He never does learn who killed his father in this movie, because the case he stumbled upon takes up the whole film, so it leaves room open for a possible sequel.  It happened.

    It's a great mystery and it does keep you guessing.  It almost makes you forget that it's not a very faithful adaptation of the Shadow...almost.  There is NO Margo Lane in this movie.  The Shadow has NO mystic powers.  He has NO creepy laugh.  The theme music from the radio show is NOT played.  In this film, he is accompanied by a short, goofy English manservant named Henry, which is an original character.  If the Shadow does wear a ring, it's not mentioned or seen, nor would it serve any importance here.

    Rod La Rocque is an incredible actor and he made a great Shadow.  I wish they would have let him BE the Shadow a bit more.  He's smart and good-looking enough.  A little cocky, but not too cocky.  He doesn't carry an "IN YOUR FACE!" attitude towards others but rather a simplistic "SEE?" attitude.

    Norman Ainsley was fine as Henry.  Couldn't have been better.  Sadly, though, this type of wimpy English manservant character was so overdone in movies that it's not anything we haven't seen a million times before.  I think at least 90% of Hollywood's Golden Age movies had to have some sort of silly English butler/chauffeur character.  This is about as common as secretaries and wide-eyed black comic relief.

    Lynn Anders is fine-looking and very easy-to-take actress.  She's not annoying or over-bubbly, just a real woman.  I like the lukewarm romance direction they were taking with this film.  They made it just enough so it didn't take away from the fact that this was a mystery thriller, but enough so that it was interesting plotwise.  Her admiration of Cranston the mystery man was definitely a threat to his cover.  Since he liked her, too, it led him to do some things that could have gotten him killed or in serious trouble with the law.

    James Blakely is a fun and spunky presence.  He had a lot of personality.