[PREV - AUDIOVISUAL_TRADITION] [TOP]
February 9, 2005
Shadows among shadows...
"The Shadow", was both
a radio show and a pulp
I'd often wondered It's always
"which came first?", a tempting game
but that turns out to finger the
to be a question original version
without an answer. as the one
the only one With the Shadow
worth caring it's hard to see
about. where to point.
In the beginning was
"Street and Smith
Then, in 1931 there
was a radio show The goal was to promote
intended to promote printed media sales with
the magazine: the broadcasts as a loss
"Street and Smith
This was an anthology show:
one-off short stories
characters, and as a
gimmick, they added a "The Whistler" was
spooky narrator called an imitation of
"The Shadow". the original Shadow.
Perhaps a more
The Shadow introduced familiar comparison
and (later) narrated would be Rod
the stories, but did Serling of "The
not appear in the "The Shadow Twilight Zone".
stories themselves. Knows"
He was a name weren't unusual in
and a voice, (Though: to my fiction back then...
but with no knowledge, no
character recordings of POV
beyond that. these survive.)
But it may be that
the Shadow was the
Listeners remembered "The Shadow", invention of a
but not "Street and Smith Detective"; particular style:
it was quickly realized that they ominous, mysterious,
should just put out a "Shadow spooky.
Magazine", since that's what they
were asking for.
They then commissioned some An alternate
stories *about* the Shadow. version of
In the first, Lamont it was just
Cranston is introduced, a maneuver
but in the third to sew up
"The Shadow Laughs" the trademark.
(October, 1931) it is
revealed that beyond the SHROUDED_IN_SHADOW
Lamont Cranston identity,
there's another secret
The Shadow essentially
stole Cranston's identity,
then pressured him to There's an attempt at
allow The Shadow to softening this particularly
continue using it. nasty business -- after The
Shadow makes his threats,
there's a suggestion that
On September 16, 1937 Cranston decides he's a good
they broadcast the first guy after all (?!). Cranston
radio show *about* the laughs it all off, wishes him
Shadow, where he is good luck, and bows out.
Lamont Cranston. I suspect (but haven't
yet verified) that the
And this is where Margot Cranston character was
Lane comes in... she later played up as a
was not a character in willing collaborator.
the novels until much
later (I believe 1941
with "Temple of Crime").
The readers of the
novels, who like to
think of themselves
as hip insiders,
often declare that
the Shadow was Which exact locale?
actually Kent Guatemala. That's the But the radio
Allard, a pilot who version in the 1937 show places the
crashed in some novel. source of the
exotic locale. Shadow's mystic
But that detail is "The Orient".
a much later So, when the radio
addition attributed shows about the ORIENTED
to the August 1937 Shadow started,
story "The Shadow the magazine did So the 90s film
Unmasked". not sync up with version has him
them, intstead the spend years
I haven't print version "going native"
read this diverged further. in an Asian locale.
but by all Walter Gibson, Though in the film,
accounts it defending his the name is
sounds like territory? Cranston, of course,
a mess of a there is no Allard.
retcon... Or was he
(Retcon: trying to
The Shadow can't retroactive jazz it up
use Cranston's continuity for radio,
name for awhile, change. and they
and reverts to Jargon rejected his
Allard for no from the scenario?
apparent reason: comics
it's an identity world.)
*twice* with two
plane crashes. Though the first time,
he was destroying his
Allard's name WWI ace identity:
does reappear "The Dark Eagle".
after this, e.g.
the 1938 story
"Face of Doom" IDENTITY_KING
And I've heard that there
are later suggestions Stolen, deceptive
that the Allard story identities appear
may be yet another blind. to be an obsession
with Walter Gibson.
The radio series "Silent
continued with the Seven"
simplest version of I'm not that familiar (1932)
the tale, using with the later stories:
Lamont Cranston as I wonder if they later
the one "real" succumbed to the pressure
identity. to be more like the radio Yes! In 1941, I think.
show. Did Marot Lane They don't feel the need
*ever* appear? to do any introduction,
though, she just
appears. Everyone knows
her from the radio shows...
But is she in on The Secret?
Or does she only gradually
become a confidant?
In the earliest shadow pulps that I've
read, the Shadow does not seem to have
any mystical powers. He's a guy who goes
skulking around at night, dressed in
black, with a lot of cash for toys like
an autogyro, and a network of assistants The author Walter Gibson
("The Eyes of the Shadow") who work on (aka Maxwell Grant) has
his problems during the day. said he was thinking of an
illusion by Blackstone,
where a man walks away and
leaves his shadow behind.
The Shadow takes
the night shift. Something like
this is visibile
even in the first
story "The Living
The power to "cloud Shadow", but it's
men's minds" is a pretty crazy
largely (though not notion: The Shadow
quite entirely) the In an early has somehow succeeded
province of the novel, the in moving a stage
radio version, Shadow uses illusion out into
his fire opal the world without
Note that in some ring to force detection.
of the earliest a confession
radio shows the via hypnosis. He crawls in
Shadow is even more open windows,
powerful. He can I would and the only
read the surface guess that sign of this is
thoughts from this that a shadow
someone's mind, and suggested in the room may
project other the hypnotic lengthen
illusions besides invisibility strangely.
his own trick to
invisibility. the radio No wonder the radio
writers. show preferred a
In this light, the
1994 film version of
the Shadow is a nice Played by
job: they tried to Alec Baldwin. With a generous
deal with the assist from
material seriously, Written by computer graphics.
blending together the David Koepp
various elements of
The one all of the versions; Directed by
real and they dealt with Russell Mulcahy
problem some of the
being implications in a new
the way, without
actress contradicting the
playing spirit of the old...
Lane. In this version, the Shadow does
indeed have a "gang" of sorts:
She looks a legion of people whose lives
good in he has saved.
gown. The cab driver "Shrievie" is
on hand, but rather than
At a being the preternaturally
distance. stupid comic relief figure of
the radio shows he's a
Of course, competent member of the gang.
no prize, The Shadow is not merely
either. chummy with the Commisioner
he's a family relation, and
he uses mind control tricks
to extract the information
he needs from him.
The villian of the piece
is a man like the Shadow Ted Rall complains about
himself, trained in the the overuse of the cliche
All of same discipline, but "we are alike you and I".
which is "turned toward The Dark
rather Side". It's a point.
to "Dr. That the Shadow *has* a DARK_SIDES
Strange", dark side is obvious at
really. a glance: for a "hero"
he comes on an awful lot
And much too like a villain, with What were they
conscious of that sinister laugh... thinking back then?
of Star Wars. One answer lies in
his evolution from
a "spooky narrator"
But that's not
the only answer:
and the monster
The Shadow is just
one of the better
examples of an
Under the gaze of the light... ambiguous hero with
watch the shadows transform. more than a little
touch of darkness.
And the fashion
sense of Dracula.
"If they're are ghosts
involved here, perhaps
the Shadow can bring
them to light."
"The Ghost Wore A Silver Slipper"
(Broadcast April 7, 1946)
[NEXT - DARK_SIDES]