Wednesday, December 12, 2018

The Shadow Radio Trivia #2

In the episode "The Phantom Voice" (February 6, 1938) a crooked lawyer and his henchman figure out a way to catch the "invisible" Shadow!  The Shadow has gone to the office of lawyer Anthony Vogel to try and solve a crime that Vogel is involved in.  Vogel is talking with his henchman, Travers, when The Shadow makes his presence known - although he has clouded Vogel's and Travers' minds so they cannot see him.

Vogel gets an idea!  Although The Shadow can't be seen physically, he is still physically in the room and they can get their hands on him.  Vogel and Travers stretch their arms out and walk slowly across the office and sure enough - Travers gets his hands on The Shadow and begins to wrestle with him!  (I won't spoil the episode to tell you what happens next, so give it a listen to find out!)

I thought this was a pretty ingenious idea on the part of the shyster lawyer Anthony Vogel.  It took advantage of the one flaw The Shadow has - he is still physically present although he can't be seen.


Saturday, December 8, 2018

The Shadow's Christmas Episodes


I found that there were quite a few Christmas episodes of The Shadow radio show.  I've only been able to listen to two of them (Cold Death and Joey's Christmas Story).  Here's a list of The Shadow's Christmas radio programs.



  • Cold Death (Season 1, episode 13 aired 12/19/37)
  • Give Us This Day (Season 2, episode 18 aired 12/25/38)
  • The Stockings Were Hung (Season 3, episode 14 aired 12/24/39)
  • Joey's Christmas Story (Season 4, episode 13 aired 12/22/40)
  • Merry Christmas by the Thousand (Season 8, episode 14 aired 12/24/1944)
  • Three Crimes on Christmas Eve (Season 9, episode 16 aired 12/23/45)
  • A Gift of Murder (Season 11, episode 15 aired 12/21/47)
  • Murder Marked Merry Christmas (Season 12, episode 16 aired 12/26/48)
  • The Christmas Ghost (Season 13, episode 15 aired 12/25/49)
  • Out by Christmas (Season 14, episode 15 aired 12/24/50)
  • The Case of the Santa Claus Killer (Season 16, episode 15 aired 12/21/52)


From what I can see, some of these episode recordings have been lost so they are no longer available to listen to.  I really enjoyed listening to Cold Death and Joey's Christmas Story - each one was different but awesome Christmas stories.  Cold Death was along the lines of Scrooge and A Christmas Carol while Joey's Christmas Story was a bit more light-hearted.

Hopefully you can find time to listen to one of these Shadow Christmas episodes this holiday season.


Saturday, November 17, 2018

The Voice Actors That Were The Shadow

The Shadow radio was on the air from September 26, 1937 until the final episode on December 26, 1954.  During that time, five men played the part of Lamont Cranston/The Shadow.  This brief article will give the names and dates for each of these men.  I plan on writing more about each of these actors in the future!

Orson Welles 
Orson Welles portrayed The Shadow in season 1 (1937 - 1938), for a total of 52 episodes.  




William Johnstone
William Johnstone took over the role for seasons 2 through 6 (1938 - 1943).  (Shadow Comics #23 included some information on Johnstone which you can read here.)



Bret Morrison
For season 7 (1943 - 1944) it was Bret Morrison in the role of Lamont Cranston/The Shadow.




John Archer
John Archer was The Shadow for one season.  He was in season 8 from 1944 to 1945.



Stephen Courtleigh
Stephen Courtleigh portrayed The Shadow for the first eight episodes* of season 9 (1945 - 1946).  His last episode as The Shadow would have been "I Must Never Sleep Again" which aired on October 28, 1945.

Bret Morrison
Bret Morrison took over from Stephen Courtleigh beginning with the ninth episode of season 9 ("Spotlight on the Duchess" which aired on November 4, 1945).  He stayed in the role until the end of The Shadow radio show in season 18 (1954).


*Information from Grams, Jr, Martin, 2011, The Shadow The History and Mystery of the Radio Program, 1930 - 1954, pp 258-259, OTR Publishing

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Halloween Episodes - The Shadow Radio!


Happy Halloween!  Here is a list of spooktacular Shadow radio episodes to listen to on Halloween!


  • The Black Abbott
  • The Werewolf of Hamilton Mansion
  • Mansion of Madness
  • The Three Ghosts
  • Death on the Rails
  • The Creeper
  • The Nursery Rhyme Murders
  • The House That Death Built
  • The Society of The Living Dead
A special thank you to @octoberpodvhs and @rovingoliver on Twitter for your recommendations!


Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Recommended Radio Episodes #1

Here are 4 recommended episodes of The Shadow!  Each of these has a common theme - The Shadow's ability to cloud the minds of men.  I'm going to put them into pairs of two with a few brief notes.



I've paired these two episodes together because they both give us listeners insight into Lamont Cranston's powers to cloud men's minds.  They also let us know how and where he learned these powers!  Death House Rescue was the very first Shadow episode, so you'll want to pay attention to the very beginning of the show when Lamont and Margo are talking.  Then, in The Temple Bells of Neban, someone from Cranston's past shows up and they challenge to take away The Shadow's powers in a mind-power showdown!


  • The Shadow Challenged  (January 19, 1941)
  • Death Stalks The Shadow (October 9, 1938)

I've paired these two episodes together because in both of them, The Shadow's powers of invisibility almost bring his doom!  In The Shadow Challenged, someone is killing professors that are translating an ancient manuscript.  The murderer claims he is The Shadow!  This story also gives some insight into how Lamont Cranston gained his powers.  In Death Stalks The Shadow, a master mind criminal determines how to build a Shadow-proof trap that he uses to catch and kill The Shadow.  Will he succeed?  You'll have to listen to the episode and find out!

I've tried not to put too much information about the episodes here so that you can give them a listen and see how the stories all connect!  I hope you enjoy these recommendations.  I'll try to make this a regular (or semi-regular) feature here on the blog!





Thursday, October 4, 2018

Margo Lane Trivia #2

While Margo Lane was part of the cast of The Shadow radio show from the very first episode (September 26, 1937), it would be four years until she appeared in the pages of The Shadow magazine.  Margo first appeared in the story, "The Thunder King" which was the June 15, 1941 issue.  


Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Help! Recommendations For The Shadow Halloween Episodes


I'm looking for some help from my fellow Shadow fans for an upcoming article!  I want to put together a list of The Shadow radio episodes that would be great to listen to for Halloween.  I'm compiling a list of my own, and have had some recommendations come in on Twitter.  For example, I have "The Black Abbott" and "Mansion of Madness."   I will also list "Halloween in Vermont" although it is a lost episode.

Do you have any suggestions?  If so, please add them in the comments below!  Thank you!!!


Monday, September 3, 2018

Lamont Cranston Trivia #2

In The Shadow radio episode "Death Shows the Way" (aired on December 3, 1939), we learn that Allan is the name of Lamont Cranston's butler!  The beginning of this episode is comical as Lamont and Allan argue over what Allan is packing for Lamont's weekend trip.  Lamont tells Allan that he's only going away for the weekend, not for a trip around the world!  Allan says he won't send Lamont anywhere "without the proper appointments."  It turns out Allan is trying to impress the butler of the family Lamont will be visiting!


Sunday, August 26, 2018

Shadow Comics Presents The Shadow Radio!

Shadow Comics #23 (on sale December 24, 1942*) had an interesting addition to the comic book!  Not only did it have Shadow stories, it also had a four page look at The Shadow radio program.  It offered readers "the exclusive story behind...the cast of radio's The Shadow!"


First, we are given a one-page biography of William Johnstone who played Lamont Cranston/The Shadow beginning with the second season (replacing Orson Welles).


Then we have a brief bio of Marjorie Anderson who portrayed the lovely Margo Lane in seasons 3 and 7.


Finally, we are given insight into The Shadow's impact on society and how it truly teaches listeners that crime does not pay!


Here is a picture of William Johnstone and Marjorie Anderson from the New York Public Library digital collection.



I don't have a lot of information on Shadow Comics, but what research I've done indicates that The Shadow in the comics closely mirrors the character from the radio show.  This four page article seems to keep that connection going!

*According to Mike's Amazing World of Comics


Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Lamont Cranston Trivia #1

In the radio episode "The Shadow Returns" (aired November 19, 1939) we discover that Lamont Cranston has some medical training.  In the episode, he has to perform surgery - even after he's been wounded!  It isn't disclosed where he was trained, but it is an interesting piece of trivia!




Sunday, August 19, 2018

The Shadow's Powers and Abilities

The Shadow on the radio show displays quite a few powers and abilities.  I wanted to catalog them in one article, and this is the start!  As I hear of new ones, I will add them.  I've included the radio episode in which the power/ability is displayed!

Powers

  • He can cloud men's minds so that they cannot see him (making him invisible)!  This power is a part of every Shadow episode, but we learn some background information in Death House Rescue and The Temple Bells of Neban.
  • He can see the thoughts of others as if he were watching a TV show.  (Death House Rescue)
  • He can make others see things that are not really there.  (The Three Ghosts)
  • He can place himself in suspended animation so as to appear dead.  (Can The Dead Talk)


Abilities

  • Lamont Cranston can fly an airplane.  (Black Rock)
  • He has medical training and can perform operations. (The Shadow Returns)
  • He has extensive knowledge of African animals. (The Leopard Strikes)






Thursday, August 9, 2018

The Shadow Radio Show Trivia #1

The opening music for The Shadow radio show is from Opus 31 of Le Rouet d'Omphale (Omphale's Spinning Wheel) by composer Camille Saint-SaĆ«ns.  Only a portion of the song is used.

You can hear the opening in this short clip:




You can listen to Le Rouet d'Omphale in its entirety here:





Sunday, July 29, 2018

The Little Man Who Wasn't There

Here's a brief synopsis and notes of The Shadow radio episode, "The Little Man That Wasn't There" that originally aired on April 8, 1945.  

An invisible little man has made three daring robberies and leaves behind a note at each one.  He robs a lady of a priceless diamond, a gentleman of thousands in bonds, and an actress of costly jewelry.  Lamont Cranston and Margo Lane get involved and Commissioner Weston believes the invisible thief is non other than The Shadow! 

I think it was a great touch for Margo to recite the poem that inspired the crime!  The name of the poem is "Antigonish" and was written by William Hughes Means in 1899 but was later made into a popular song in 1939 by Glen Miller.  Here's the part that Margo recites in the show:
"Last night I saw upon the stair,
A little man who wasn't there,
He wasn't there again today
Oh, how I wish he'd go away..."



All three victims had insured their items through the same insurance agent, so Lamont and Margo pay him a visit.  While talking with him, he is shot and killed!  Lamont does some investigating and pays a visit to each of the victims as The Shadow.  He invites them to come to the theater just before midnight and the little invisible man will return their stolen goods!  It turns out The Shadow has already deduced the three "victims" are in league to commit insurance fraud as the items were not stolen!  Each one pretended to wrestle with an invisible little man and claimed he stole their items so they could not only keep the items but claim the insurance for them being stolen.  All three are arrested by Commissioner Weston and The Shadow proves his innocence!

This was the first Shadow episode I've listened to that starred John Archer as Lamont Cranston/The Shadow.  I must say that I don't particularly care for his portrayal.  To me, his voice doesn't seem to match the character and The Shadow's laugh just seems too forced.  It was a good story, but I just don't like Archer's voice for The Shadow.  Maybe as I listen to more of his shows I'll get a better feel for him as The Shadow!  John Archer portrayed The Shadow in the 8th season of the radio show (1944-1945).

Cast/Crew:
Lamont Cranston/The Shadow:  John Archer
Margo Lane:  Judith Allen
Commissioner Weston:  Ted de Corsia

Sponsor:  Lin-X





Friday, July 27, 2018

Margo Lane Trivia #1

In The Shadow radio episode "Curse of the Cat" (aired January 20, 1946) we learn that Margo Lane has a dog.  It's a Cocker Spaniel named Brownie!


Monday, July 23, 2018

Strange Puzzles Audio Collection



Currently I'm listening to The Shadow radio episodes on Audible from the collection entitled "Strange Puzzles."  It's a pretty good collection of Shadow mysteries.  Here's a summary from the Audible website.

"Music, madness, death, and darkness face amateur criminologist Lamont Cranston and The Shadow. In the midst of the most classic of mystery motifs - from foreboding castles to frame ups - he unravels each remarkable riddle. From elusive treasure to conclusive evidence: How? Why? And, who dunnit?

Let your curiosity lead you through two newly discovered Orson Welles episodes, available here for the first time since their original broadcasts in 1938 - "He Died at Twelve" and "The Black Buddha." Consider the clues in more classic episodes starring Bill Johnstone and Bret Morrison as the cloaked crusader. Ask yourself, is that really Ken Roberts singing in "Tenor With a Broken Voice"?

The Shadow producer and scriptwriter Edith Meiser once said, "A mystery is just a puzzle solved by the detective." Of course, the 18 cases in this digitally restored and remastered collection are cracked by…The Shadow!"

Epidsodes Include:


  • Tenor with a Broken Voice 06-05-38
  • He Died At Twelve 07-10-38
  • The Black Buddha 09-04-38
  • Traffic in Death 09-25-38
  • Murder in E Flat 12-04-38
  • Phantom Fingerprints 10-29-39
  • Mansion of Madness 11-05-39
  • Death Shows the Way 12-03-39
  • Murderer's Vanity 03-17-40
  • The Case of the Three Frightened Policemen 11-16-41
  • They Killed With a Silver Hatchet 05-26-46
  • Makeup for Murder 12-01-46
  • The Shadow of Suspicion 12-29-46
  • The Bones of the Dragon 01-11-48
  • Reflection of Death 05-09-48
  • The Giant of Madras 05-16-48
  • Murder at Dead Man's Inn 09-12-48
  • Murder by a Corpse 10-31-48


My favorite episodes so far have been "The Black Buddha", "Traffic in Death" and "Mansion of Madness."  The stories I haven't cared for too much are "Phantom Fingerprints" and "Murder in E Flat."  All in all, so far I'm very pleased with the selection.  The audio has been remastered so the sound is clearer and with less static and background noise.

Please note that this collection can also be purchased from Radio Spirits.  It comes on 9 CDs and includes a Program Guide by William Nadel with photographs and background information about the series.  (This guide is not included if you purchase it from Audible.)



Sunday, July 22, 2018

Margo Lane Daydreams of The Shadow's Wedding

I was listening to The Shadow radio episode "Mansion of Madness" and found a humorous ending to the show!  Lamont Cranston and Margo Lane are attending a wedding at the end of the episode and Margo isn't paying much attention to Lamont as he talks to her.  Lamont says, "...are you listening to me?"  and Margo responds that she was listening but was just thinking about what it would be like if The Shadow ever got married.  Here's how Margo envisions it:

"Don't be alarmed Lamont, it was pure supposition!  I was just thinking of you walking up the aisle...ready to take the sacred vows that endure for the rest of your life...and all of a sudden somebody would shoot the best man, the minister would fall down poisoned, the bridesmaid would be stabbed, and you'd be off on another case and bust up the whole darned thing!"

That was pretty comical and thought it was a great description of how The Shadow's wedding truly would be!


Friday, June 29, 2018

The Tenor With the Broken Voice



Here's a brief synopsis and notes of The Shadow radio episode, "The Tenor With The Broken Voice" that originally aired on June 5, 1938.  (Note:  I've seen other dates listed as the original air date, but the June 5 date is based on what I found at a vintage radio log.)

Margo Lane and Lamont Cranston attend a night at the opera to watch the opera "Pagliacci."  They both comment on their anticipation to hear the star, Hagen Radcoffe, as he sings the aria "Vesti la giubba" which closes out the first act.  As Radcoffe sings the aria, the audience is shocked as Radcoffe's voice cracks and he is led off the stage.  

Replacement singers are brought in for other performances and death and tragedy strike them as they sing the "Vesi la giubba" aria.  Cranston, as The Shadow, investigates and foils the villain before he can set off an explosion in the crowded opera house!

It's interesting to see the conflict between Commissioner Weston and The Shadow as they both work to solve the crime and keep the public safe.  I also enjoyed hearing Detective Joe Cardona and The Shadow's agent, Clyde Burke, in this adventure.

Cast/Crew:
Lamont Cranston/The Shadow:  Orson Wells
Margo Lane:  Margot Stevenson
Announcer:  Ken Roberts (some have noted that Roberts may have played the part of one of the tenors in this episode!)

Sponsor:  B. F. Goodrich


Saturday, June 23, 2018

"Let No Man Tempt You Into Crime...The Shadow Knows!"

I was listening to some of The Shadow radio shows from a collection I purchased on Audible and heard a unique closing to an episode that I had not heard before.  It was from the episode, "Murder in E Flat" which aired on December 14, 1938.

The Shadow ending that I'm most used to is, "The weed of crime bears bitter fruit.  Crime does not pay!  The Shadow knows!"  

Here are the words to this unique ending from "Murder in E Flat.":  "Let no man tempt you into crime.  For crime is like a strangling serpent, it crushes him who feeds it most.  Beware lest the serpent of crime ensnare you in his folds.  Remember, crime does not pay!  The Shadow knows!"  Of course, there is The Shadow's sinister laugh before and after the quoted words above.  I like the ending

I like that ending and I'm sure there are others that are different as well.  The ending to the program was just one more way they tried to impress on the listening audience that crime doesn't pay!



Sunday, June 17, 2018

The Shadow Legends of Radio CDs by Radio Spirits

I came across a CD collection of The Shadow radio shows that was made by Radio Spirits.  It is a great little collection of 10 CDs with 20 episodes.  They feature episodes with Orson Welles, Bill Johnstone, John Archer, and Bret Morrison as Lamont Cranston/The Shadow.  Each of these men played The Shadow on the radio show, so it's nice to have a selection from each actor.  The episodes have all been digitally remastered to improve the sound quality of these old recordings.






Another nice feature of this collection is a small 32-page booklet on The Shadow radio show.  It's entitled, The Shadow: Radio's Greatest Man of Mystery and was written by Shadow scholar Anthony Tollin.  For a little booklet, it's chock full of information on The Shadow radio and pulps.




I got this collection off of eBay and it was in very good shape.  If you want to listen to The Shadow radio episodes, I highly recommend this collection!



Friday, June 15, 2018

Death to The Shadow!


A man bent on revenge accidentally learns the true identity of The Shadow and now he's offering to sell that information to gangdom!  Will his nefarious plan fail?  That's what we have to learn in The Shadow radio episode of "Death to The Shadow!"  This episode originally aired on March 12, 1944.

The story begins with Professor Petro showing of his latest invention to Howard Crane.  Crane leads us to believe he represents a group of wealthy investors who might want to purchase this invention.  Professor Petro's invention is a television-like apparatus that enables him to see things by dialing in street addresses or coordinates.  Wherever there is a tiny bit of light, he can look at that location and watch what is happening there on a small screen.  Crane gives Professor Petro the address to one of his so-called business associates, Dan Gordon.  Petro's invention allows them to look and listen in on Dan Gordon as he gives the combination of his safe to his personal secretary.  In the safe they have just locked up half a million dollars!

Howard Crane seems to pick an address at random and Professor Petro adjusts the dials and they look in on gangster Finger Fenton.  They see another man in the room but Finger doesn't see him!  They listen in as The Shadow warns Finger Fenton that he must stay on the straight and narrow since he just got out of jail and so he doesn't end up in the electric chair like his brother, Killer Fenton.  Crane and Petro are astonished that Finger can't see the other man in the room (The Shadow) and come to the conclusion that Fenton must be hypnotized!  Crane recognizes Lamont Cranston, and hears him talk as The Shadow - now Crane knows the true identity of The Shadow!!!

Crane kills Professor Petro and steals his invention.  He sets up a meeting with Finger Fenton and lays out his plan for profiting off of Petro's invention.  He will give Fenton information on where to steal and rob, and they will split the profits.  And, for a nice sum of money, Crane will tell Fenton who is The Shadow!  Fenton wants to know so he can avenge the death of his brother who was sent to the chair by The Shadow.  The felon Fenton agrees to the plan and the first job is to remove the half million dollars from Dan Gordon's safe as well as exact revenge on men that Crane wants to make pay for ruining him!

With Professor Petro's device, Crane eavesdrops on the police and stymies The Shadow's every move.  Lamont Cranston laments to Margo Lane while visiting her apartment.  Margo opines, "It's like they're able to watch everything you do!"  Margo's comment jogs Lamont's memory  - Professor Petro had talked with Lamont about his device before!  Lamont then figures out he's probably being watched right then and there and so he sets a trap.  He tells Margo that he will be going to an apartment at 10:30 that night to meet an informant with information on the crime wave.  If he is being watched, he expects someone will show up at the apartment and The Shadow will be waiting!

At 10:30 The Shadow finds Lefty waiting for someone in the apartment.  The Shadow unarms him and gets Lefty to rat out the plans.  Meanwhile, Crane has sent henchman to pick up Margo Lane and bring her to him!  After dealing with Lefty, Cranston returns to Margo's apartment to find a scuffle has taken place.  Watching on the television device, Crane calls him and gives him specific instructions on where to go if he wants to see Margo Lane alive again!  Crane watches the television device and sees Cranston obeying his orders!

Crane's plan is quickly foiled as The Shadow suddenly shows up and confronts him and Finger Fenton!  The Shadow is able to smash the television device while Finger Fenton uses his machine gun to try and shoot The Shadow.  Fenton sprays the room with bullets and ends up killing Crane, the man who knew The Shadow's true identity!  

After the police mop up matters at Crane's, Lamont and Margo talk.  Margo asks how Lamont could be seen on the television device and yet show up at Crane's as The Shadow.  It turns out that Cranston had just enough time to contact Commissioner Weston and have a detective that strongly resembled him to act as a decoy - that's who Crane was watching!  This allowed Cranston, as The Shadow, to rescue Margo and destroy the television device.

This was a great radio episode and even I was trying to figure out how Cranston could be watched and yet show up to rescue Margo.  This is an action packed episode and I highly recommend you give it a listen!

In this radio episode, according to the radio logs I was able to find, The Shadow/Lamont Cranston was played by Brett Morrison and Margo Lane was played by Marjorie Anderson.


Wednesday, June 6, 2018

The Silent Avenger


"The Silent Avenger" was first aired on March 13, 1938 and it was the 25th episode from season 1 of The Shadow radio show.  This story is thrilling, compelling and unique.

The story begins in a courtroom where Joe Brecker has just been found guilty of first degree murder and receives the death sentence.  Joe Brecker then gives his own judgment by passing sentence on Judge Wilson, the prosecuting attorney, and the jury saying that they will all die.  And, if his sentence isn't commuted to life in prison by the Governor, the Governor will die!  Joe also passes sentence on the man who caught him - The Shadow!

Lamont Cranston and Margo Lane are witnesses to Brecker's outburst in court.  As people leave the room, comments are made about what just happened and how worried people would be if The Shadow was on their trail.  Lamont opines, "Unfortunately the mystery surrounding The Shadow inspires fear and terror in the innocent as well as the guilty."

Joe Brecker is in prison, waiting to be moved to the death house, and is visited by his brother, Danny.  (Throughout the story we will learn Danny Brecker is a decorated veteran of World War I.)  Joe has given Danny a mission - Danny is to kill the people responsible for sending Joe to jail and to the death sentence.  Joe tells Danny that the same people that sentenced him to death are the ones responsible for Danny being drafted into the Army and being sent to fight in France during World War I.  They are responsible for Danny getting "shell shocked" so that he can't remember things.  Then Joe warns Danny about The Shadow.  He tells Danny that The Shadow will come after him and he will only hear his voice but will not see him.  Danny asks if The Shadow is dead, like his buddies that still talk to him.  Joe tells him that The Shadow is very much alive and when Danny hears The Shadow's voice he is to throw a hand grenade at the sound of The Shadow's voice and that will kill The Shadow!  Danny indicates that he will fully carry out this mission assigned to him from his brother.  After Danny leaves, Joe says about Danny, "That poor dope!"  In other words, Joe has taken advantage of his own brother to exact his vengeance.

After Danny left, Joe received a new visitor, a visitor he didn't expect and didn't want.  Joe is visited by The Shadow!  The Shadow knows Brecker is willing to carry out his murderous threat, and now he's trying to find out how Brecker will do it.  Using his telepathic powers, The Shadow reads Joe Brecker's mind and learns Brecker's plan.  But now The Shadow must find Danny Brecker in time to prevent the murders of innocent people.

The Shadow is searching desperately for Danny Brecker and members of the jury that put Joe Brecker in jail are beginning to be killed - killed by a highly trained sniper.  Lamont Cranston and Margo Lane discuss these tragic events as Cranston has exhausted himself searching for Danny.  Cranston tells Margo that he looked up Danny Brecker's war record and found him to be a decorated sniper in WW I, and he also learned Danny is suffering from "shell-shock."  Cranston tells Margo, "Society trained him (Danny) to kill men.  They told him they were enemies and he should kill them off.  And now, with a shell-shocked mind, he's remembering what society taught him...to kill.  To the people who have been through this experience, life is cheap.  He is a product of our own folly:  teaching men to kill in time of war and yet expecting them to respect life in time of peace."

The Shadow determines they need to set a trap for Danny so he and Margo put that plan in motion.  Margo goes to the home of Danny and Joe Brecker's mother, posing as a reporter, on the day Joe is scheduled to die in the electric chair.  The Shadow is there as well, but he is unseen.  Just a few minutes before 5pm, when Joe is scheduled to die, Danny appears and talks with his mom.  Mrs. Brecker knows in her heart that Danny is the one that's been killing people.  5pm comes and there was no action by the Governor to save Joe Brecker and so the death penalty is carried out.  Danny mentions that he will be going to a tower in the city to take care of the Governor.  The Shadow confronts Danny, but Danny is prepared and throws a hand grenade at where he hears The Shadow's voice.  The Shadow is able to throw the grenade out a window before anyone can get hurt, but Danny escapes in the turmoil.

Cranston and Margo are pouring over a map of the city trying to find what tower Danny was speaking of.  They determine it can only be the Wardman Tower which is still under construction but would be a perfect sniper's nest for Danny to shoot the Governor who will be in a parade.

The Shadow finds Danny on the 30th floor of the Wardman Tower.  The Shadow speaks to Danny and is able to get him to put down the rifle.  But then Danny pulls the pin on the hand grenade he has and threatens to throw it into the crowd below.  The Shadow is able to use the powers of his mind to have Danny hold on to the grenade, but then Danny drops it and it explodes, killing Danny.

Police Commissioner Weston has finished talking about the case with another officer when The Shadow speaks to him.  Weston says The Shadow was too late to take care of Danny Brecker and asks if The Shadow now wants to take credit for solving the case?  The Shadow responds, "There is no credit, no glory in the death of Danny Brecker, Commissioner Weston.  He was a victim, a human weapon of destruction, fashioned by mankind that teaches men to kill their enemies in time of war yet expects them to forget their murderous art in time of peace.  Danny Brecker was an enemy of society - a killer - but only because you, and I, and countless thousands made him one.  No Commissioner, there is no glory in this for you, or The Shadow, or for any man."

I listened to this episode many times to prepare for this article.  Each time I listened, I found a different nuance to it that might be missed with just one listening.  For example, Lamont Cranston spends many secluded hours away from Margo Lane in his attempt to find Danny Brecker.  This case demanded a lot physically from The Shadow.  I also noticed how Joe Brecker took advantage of his war-traumatized brother to exact his vengeance.  To me, that is shameful and indicates the type of criminal Joe Brecker really was.

In this story, The Shadow used his mesmeric powers to read Joe Brecker's mind, similar to what he did in the episode, "Death House Rescue."  The Shadow also used his ability to cloud people's minds so as to be invisible to them.

As part of preparing for this article I also did some research into World War I as Danny Brecker is a veteran of the war.  There were 4.7 million Americans that fought in WW I.  204,000 were wounded in action and 116,516 were killed in action.  There are still around 3,000 soldiers that are missing in action/unaccounted for.  The war began in 1914 but the US didn't enter the war until 1917, and the war ended in November of 1918.  At the height of US involvement, around 10,000 US troops a day were being sent to France.

World War I introduced us to the first use of chemical warfare and the first use of snipers.  It also introduced us to a condition called "shell-shock" which we would later know as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  Here's some information I found on the US Department of Veterans Affairs website:  "In 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11th as the first observance of Armistice Day, the day World War I ended. At that time, some symptoms of present-day PTSD were known as "shell shock" because they were seen as a reaction to the explosion of artillery shells. Symptoms included panic and sleep problems, among others. Shell shock was first thought to be the result of hidden damage to the brain caused by the impact of the big guns. Thinking changed when more soldiers who had not been near explosions had similar symptoms. "War neuroses" was also a name given to the condition during this time."  WWI veterans with "shell shock" were characterized as having a lack of courage, character flaws, etc. and were not treated as the heroes they were.

Six years prior to this radio episode airing, another event happened involving WW I veterans.  In 1932 approximately 17,000 veterans and their families marched on Washington, DC asking the government to pay out immediately the bonus money promised to veterans.  The demand was rejected and the veterans were forced out of Washington by the Army and the police.  You can read more about these veterans here.

Knowing some of these facts helped me put this radio program into an historical context.  It has become one of my favorite Shadow radio episodes and I hope you've enjoyed this brief look at the show and some of the history behind it.  I also want to thank Pete Blatchford for bringing this radio show to my attention!


Sunday, June 3, 2018

The Temple Bells of Neban


On October 24, 1937 The Shadow radio program aired the story, "The Temple Bells of Neban."  It was the fifth episode in the first season of the radio show.  It is one of my favorite Shadow radio episodes.  When you combine this episode with Death House Rescue, you get a more clear picture of how Lamont Cranston learned his powers as The Shadow!

The story begins with Lamont Cranston and Margo Lane on their way to the Club Khalif to enjoy an evening out.  On their way, they discuss the opium problem that has been impacting the city and that The Shadow needs to get involved. 

At the Club, they are entertained by an Indian dancer named Sadi Bel-Adda.  She entertains the crowd with the Dance of the Cobra where she seems to mesmerize a live cobra on stage.  Sadi Bel-Adda approaches Lamont and Margo's table, offering Margo a bracelet.  Lamont and Saadi talk briefly yet cryptically - have they met before?

After the show, The Shadow pays a visit to Sadi Bel-Adda.  Sadi warns The Shadow that she can command The Temple Bells of Neban, a powerful spell that will reveal The Shadow and disable him from clouding the minds of men!

Lamont speaks with Margo about his encounter with Saadi Bel-Adda, and Margo is worried.  Lamont recounts where he first learned the power to cloud men's minds.  He tells Margo, "Years ago in India, a yogi priest, keeper of the Temple of the Cobras at Delhi taught me the ancient mysteries.  He taught me the mesmeric trick that the underworld calls invisibility.  There was a small girl, his niece, that use to sit and listen...she was very clever..."  Yes - Sadi Bel-Adda was the niece of the yogi priest that taught Lamont Cranston!

The radio show reaches it's climax when The Shadow confronts Sadi Bel-Adda.  Sadi releases her cobra and begins to command The Temple Bells of Neban to destroy The Shadow's invisibilty.  But unbeknownst to Sadi, The Shadow had switched her de-fanged cobra for one with fangs.  The cobra bites Sadi Bel-Adda and she dies before she can command the Temple Bells of Neban.

This is only a brief summary of the show and I encourage you to give it a listen!  I really enjoy this episode as it not only puts The Shadow up against a foe with equal powers, it also gives us insight into how Lamont Cranston learned the mesmeric trick to cloud men's minds!

The Temple of the Cobras mentioned in this radio show became a part of the 1994 The Shadow movie.  It is in the beginning of the movie where Cranston is taken captive and brought to see the Tulku, the Tibetan holy man who trained him to use his "black shadow to fight evil."




The radio cast for this episode was:
  • Lamont Cranston/The Shadow:  Orson Welles
  • Margo Lane:  Agnes Moorehead
  • Sadi Bel-Adda:  Jeanette Nolan
  • Commissioner Weston:  Ray Collins


Saturday, June 2, 2018

Death House Rescue


"Death House Rescue!" was the very first radio program episode for The Shadow.  It originally aired on September 26, 1937.  This is one of my favorite radio episodes of The Shadow and I've listened to it many times.

In the radio dramas, Lamont Cranston is The Shadow.  Cranston is a millionaire who fights crime as The Shadow.  Only his companion, Margo Lane, knows this.  Margo Lane is a new character and had never appeared in any of The Shadow pulp magazines.  (In The Shadow pulp magazines, The Shadow is Kent Allard who sometimes disguises himself as millionaire Lamont Cranston.)

In this story we hear about a down-on-his-luck husband, Paul Gordon.  Paul and his wife, Grace, have a sick child named Sally.  Paul is trying to find work as Sally needs medical help.  Paul ends up being duped by two hoodlums who offer to pay him for driving them around.  What Paul doesn't know is that they are going to frame him for a crime they are about to commit!

The two hoodlums, Red and Lefty, hold up a bank and kill a police officer in the process.  They jump into Paul Gordon's car and order him to drive away.  With the police in high pursuit, Red and Lefty are able to escape and leave incriminating evidence in Gordon's car.  Paul Gordon ends up being convicted and is now in the death house with his execution only hours away!

The Shadow knows Paul Gordon is innocent and is quickly on the case.  He sends Margo Lane to visit Grace Gordon to let her know The Shadow is on the case, and that he will not fail!  Margo also gives Grace $1,000 to help with her living expenses since Paul is now in jail.

Disguised as a prison guard, The Shadow visits Paul in prison and uses his powers of mental telepathy to find the clue that will prove Gordon's innocence.  He sees into Paul's mind as Paul replies the events of the crime in his head.  The Shadow sees the events as if he were watching a television broadcast of those events!  Using this power The Shadow finds the clue that will set Gordon free!  The Shadow promises Paul that he will not die in the electric chair now that he has this clue.

Now The Shadow must spring a trap for the two rats that framed Paul Gordon!  Using mental telepathy, he sends a message to Margo Lane and has her get in touch with Police Commissioner Weston.  He then calls Lefty on the phone at the local bar and reveals that there was indeed an incriminating clue left in Paul Gordon's car - Lefty has left his fingerprint on the car's review mirror!  Lefty and Red go to rub out the incriminating evidence and are met by the police.  One of the crooks is mortally wounded but confesses the truth about the crime before they die.

While all that was playing out, Paul Gordon has been moved to the room where is the electric chair.  The hour for his execution has come.  Paul is distraught as The Shadow had promised he would not die in the chair.  The Shadow did not fail as the call comes from the Governor to release Paul Gordon as he is an innocent man who was framed!

In this radio drama, The Shadow disguised himself as a prison guard.  He used his mental powers to cloud minds so as to make himself invisible.  He also used his powers of mental telepathy to read minds and send messages.  


Monday, May 28, 2018

Who Is The Shadow?



In this article I want to look at The Shadow's biography based on the radio program.  The Shadow radio program aired from September of 1937 until December of 1954.  There were some key differences between The Shadow on radio and The Shadow in print.  On the radio, it was only The Shadow and Margo Lane who solved the mysteries and crimes.  In print, The Shadow was aided by his agents who were The Shadow's eyes and ears, providing him with key information and clues.  On radio, only Margo Lane knew the true identity of The Shadow.

Who is The Shadow on the radio program?  Let me answer that in the words from a few episodes of the radio program.  In the very first radio show we are simply told this, "...The Shadow, a man of mystery who strikes terror in the very souls of sharpsters, lawbreakers, and criminals." (Death House Rescue)  That tells us what The Shadow does, but doesn't tell us who he is!  But in the introduction to the radio episode 'The Curse of Siva' we get the answer to who The Shadow really is.  We are told, "The Shadow, a mysterious character who aids the forces of law and order, is in reality Lamont Cranston, wealthy young man-about-town.  As The Shadow, Cranston is gifted with hypnotic power to cloud men's minds so they cannot see him.  Cranston's friend and companion, the lovely Margo Lane, is the only person to whom the voice of the invisible Shadow belongs."

So now we know that the radio program version of The Shadow is Lamont Cranston.  We also now know that he has hypnotic powers that aid him in his fight against crime.  But where did Lamont Cranston get such powers?  Lamont Cranston tells us himself in several episodes!  Here is what he discloses to Margo Lane.  "Would they approve my methods?  Would they believe in my science?  Why do you think I've devoted countless hours to investigating electric and chemical phenomenon?  Why do you think I went to India, to Egypt, to China? Why do you think I studied in London, Paris,  and Vienna except to learn the old mysteries that modern science has not yet rediscovered, the natural magic modern psychology is beginning to understand? Well, magic that wouldn't seem so natural.  I studied and learned for a purpose."  Lamont Cranston devoted much travel, time and effort into learning ways he can aid the forces of law and order!

Furthermore, in the radio show "The Temple Bells of Neban" we learn exactly where The Shadow learned his hypnotic powers.  Lamont Cranston tells us, "Years ago in India, a yogi priest, keeper of the Temple of the Cobras at Delhi taught me the ancient mysteries.  He taught me the mesmeric trick that the underworld calls invisibility."  It was in Delhi, India that Cranston learned and mastered the hypnotic power to cloud men's minds!  This fact was also alluded to in the episode "The Shadow Challenged!"

According to The Shadow radio program, The Shadow is Lamont Cranston, a wealthy young man who has invested his life in learning the old mysteries and new sciences so that he can right wrongs, bring justice to criminals, and aid law enforcement.  As The Shadow, he strikes fear into the very souls of criminals and has become the underworld's number one target to eliminate!