7 Reasons You Need to Watch The Shadow

By Sherilyn Connelly in Books, Comics, Daily Lists, Movies
Tuesday, February 25, 2014 at 6:00 am

4. The Supporting Cast Is Fantastic.

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As Mulcahy marvels, a lot of people who didn't necessarily need to take a small roles in a superhero movie signed up anyway: Ian McKellen, Peter Boyle, Jonathan Winters, Tim Curry, Andre Gregrory and others. Tim Curry even gets to go insane by the end, and that's never not fun.

5. Penelope Ann Miller is Easy on the Eyes.

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She wears lots of slinky and/or shiny gowns, if you're into that sort of thing. But more importantly, her character Margo Lane (who, being mildly telepathic, is immune to the Shadow's Jedi mind tricks) never devolves into a distressed damsel, and she plays a big part in the saving of the day. While Miller cracks ever so slightly under an exposition-dump in the third act, she and Baldwin are terrific verbal sparring partners, because -

6. It's a Screwball Comedy.

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Bringing Up Baby it ain't, but The Shadow is also intentionally very funny, though never at the expense of the material. And a lot of that comes from Baldwin and Miller digging into David Koepp's script, which pays homage to movies like His Girl Friday and The Thin Man. Trust me, that's a good thing.

Also, Jonathan Winters.

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RIP.

7. If You Like It, There's a Lot More Where That Came From.

Not of the movie itself, mind you; as probably goes without saying, the 1994 version The Shadow was not the franchise-starter that Universal was surely hoping for. But many of the radio shows are still available, the best of which are from the year that Orson Welles played the lead. His final episode of The Shadow was about a month and half before his famous War of the Worlds broadcast on his own Mercury Theater on the Air series, which gives you a sense of where his head was at while he was playing Lamont Cranston.

Right around at the time that Orson Welles took the role on the air in 1937, a B-picture called The Shadow Strikes was released, starring Rod La Rocque. Like most no-budget crime pictures in those days, it has lots of guys in suits and hats standing around talking, and Rod La Rocque was no Orson Welles.

Embedding has been disabled by request on the the Shadow serial from 1940. Again, it's not really "good" unless you were born in 1933 and are seeing it in theater during its first run, but it still has a goofy, dingy charm.

And after American gave Fritz the what-for World War II, who else besides Johnny came marching home? The Shadow, that's who, played by Kane Richmond in 1946's The Shadow Returns.

But the best time The Shadow returned - and the only time anyone came close to being as suave as Orson Welles - was when he was played by Alec Baldwin, and it's now available from Shout! Factory. Check it out.

Previously by Sherilyn Connelly:

The 33 Coolest Videos from PONIES: The Anthology

The 5 Coolest Things About the Navajo Translation of Star Wars

The Nineteen Coolest Illustrations from Star Trek Fanzines

The 9 Coolest Sci-Fi Read-Along Records from the 70s and 80s

15 Awesomely Nerdy Behind-the-Scenes Documentaries You Can Watch for Free Right Now

The Eight Funniest Recurring Themes in the Original Star Wars Trading Cards

The Six Coolest Things In Starlog #001: The Voyage in Retro-Nerdery Begins

Ten Amazingly Strange Celebrity Hotlines of the 1980s


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