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The Shadow
(1940 Serial)

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About This Film


Victor Jory as Lamont Cranston/The Shadow/Lin Ching
Veda Ann Borg as Margo Lane [spelled in the film as "Margot Lane"]
Roger Moore as Harry Vincent, Cranston's cabbie and assistant
Philip Ahn as Wu Yung
Frank LaRue as Commissioner Ralph Weston
Edward Peil, Sr. as Lieutenant Inspector Joe Cardona

Richard Cramer as Voice of the Black Tiger [uncredited]
Jack Ingrim as Flint, Black Tiger's chief thug

The Shadow (1940)
:  Of all the "Hollywood Golden Age" attempts at Shadow movies, this is the most faithful to the character from radio and pulps.  It's not that accurate, but a few of the basic elements are adhered.  At least Lamont Cranston dresses up as The Shadow like we know him to look, and it's a secret identity; not publicly known.  He has the Shadow's "laugh", and he fights a mysterious villain.  If nothing else, this is certainly the most exciting of the 1930s-40s Shadow movies, with never-ending action and some general sort of conspiracy always happening.

    This is actually the third time a live-action version of "The Shadow" superhero character was attempted.  Prior to this, there were two feature films starring Rod LaRocque as a very different version of The Shadow.  In those films, the Shadow was not a superhero, but an amateur detective.  Although good, those two movies are hard to consider "real" Shadow movies.  In the second of those films, Lamont Cranston is publicly known as The Shadow, for some unexplained reason.

    In 1946, nearly six years after this serial hit the theaters, the Shadow was brought back in three feature films starring Kane Richmond as the hero.  The problem with those films is that, for the most part, the Shadow wasn't the Shadow.  We see Lamont Cranston, and he works as the Shadow only sparingly.  He is NOT the professional criminologist we see in the 1940 serial, but an amateur criminologist who follows the police around.  And now Margo Lane is NOT the Shadow's secretary, but his bumbling, bimbo girlfriend.

    The 1940 serial is the only one of the early Shadow movies that's a "real" Shadow movie.  He is, indeed, a superhero and NOT a movie detective.  The look of the character, the action, the gadgetry, the villainy...it has all the marks of a good Shadow movie EXCEPT for super powers!  The Shadow has no super powers in this movie.  He's just a guy in a costume.  There is no ability to cloud men's minds or turn invisible.  Nor is there any martial arts mastery. 
It IS hinted that he has some degree of invulnerability.  For instance, he is shot at twice early in the serial, at close range, but was not hurt.  Also, he seems to recover quickly from all the debris that falls on him from chapter to chapter.  Generally, though, he isn't that "super".

    Victor Jory stars as the legendary crimefighter, with Veda Ann Borg as the lovely Margo Lane. 
Victor Jory, himself, does a fine job as The Shadow.  He captured the laugh perfectly.  He acts like we would imagine the Shadow would, in and out of costume.  His character of Lin Ching is very Asian, and funny.  He almost makes us believe he really is Chinese.    I've always enjoyed Veda Ann Borg in her shows.  She's a real knockout.  I don't think her Margo Lane gets to do a whole lot in this serial, but she plays a solid character.

The basic character concept of the Shadow is the same as in the pulps and radio shows, but with some strong differences.  Lamont Cranston is not the "wealthy young man about town", but a scientist and criminologist.  We know that he must have some money behind him, but he isn't a playboy.  He uses his wealth and talent to help society.  Margo Lane is his assistant/secretary/girlfriend.  She isn't a bimbo, like other screen versions of Margo Lane.  This Margo actually has a bit of smarts in the way of science and crime-solving.  The city's police force, headed by Commissioner Weston, with his second man Lieutenant Cardona, relies on Cranston for his help in solving a baffling series of crimes.

    Besides the Shadow, Lamont Cranston has one other alternate identity, Lin Ching.  In the form of a seedy, aging Chinaman, he gains valuable information from the underworld.  Cranston's other allies include real Chinaman Wu, and cabbie Vincent (instead of Moe, the one we're used to).  This is a tip of the hat to the Shadow's network of allies that we know about from radio and pulps.

    The Black Tiger makes an interesting supervillain.  He is the criminal mastermind.  His identity is secret from even his own henchmen, and he makes himself invisible by showering himself with a special spray.  While invisible, he speaks through the statue of a black tiger's head.  The tiger's eyes glow, and smoke comes from its mouth.

    This serial is a highly watchable adventure.  The cars are outstanding, and there is always something happening.  Trap doors, explosions, gun fights, car chases; these are just some of the things you can expect with some frequency.  Fans of the Shadow, and especially fans of classic cinema, will find this serial entertaining.


Chapter 1, The Doomed City-

Chapter 2, The Shadow Attacks-

Chapter 3, The Shadow's Peril-

Chapter 4, In the Tiger's Lair-

Chapter 5, Danger Above- The Black Tiger tries to ruin Safeway Airlines by making their planes crash.

Chapter 6, The Shadow's Trap- Black Tiger makes everyone believe he is Frank Milford, only Frank Milford is dead!

Chapter 7, Where Horror Waits- Black Tiger wants to take over Prescott's railroad.

Chapter 8, The Shadow Rides the Rails- The Shadow fights it out at Parker Junction to save a train from being destroyed.

Chapter 9, Devil in White-

Chapter 10, The Underground Trap-

Chapter 11, Chinatown at Night-

Chapter 12, Murder by Remote Control-

Chapter 13, Wheels of Death-

Chapter 14, The Sealed Room-

Chapter 15, The Shadow's Net Closes-

Fun Facts: