Last week this column featured The Shadow Strikes, featuring Rod La Rocque as Lamont Cranston/The Shadow. This is Behind the Mask, another in the five or so featuring The Shadow. It stars Kane Richmond as Lamont Cranston (The Shadow) and Barbara Read as Margo Lane, Cranston’s main squeeze. The Shadow Strikes came out in 1937, and this one followed in 1946. The big difference is in the improvement in cinematography and acting, but not much else. The story is still lame, a comedy of murder and mayhem. We are going to see people dropping dead all over accompanied by loads of laughs.
This is from Monogram Pictures (what else). Details are from Wikipedia and IMDb.
Opening scenes show shady reporter Jeff Mann (James Cardwell) making the rounds for his sideline operation (blackmail). A hundred here, a few hundred there, and people’s names won’t appear in his column. Here he muscles sumptuous gambling operator Mae Bishop (Marjorie Hoshelle). With each visit the eager Mr. Mann drops word that his fees are going up.
And that’s the end of the sleazy reporter. Back at his office at the newspaper a shadowy figure comes in through the window behind him. The first his co-workers notice anything wrong they see an ominous silhouette on Mann’s office window. It’s The Shadow, they are sure of it.
Meanwhile, the real Shadow, Lamont Cranston, is making cuddle bunnies with his fiancée, Margo Lane. They are going to be married the next day.
It goes downhill from there. This has nothing to offer by way of a plot. Cranston, both as himself and as The Shadow, bumbles his way through the case of mounting bodies. Here he deals with some officers of the law.
Here Cranston has lured Edith Merrill (June Clyde) up to his place, the idea being to schmooze her and get her to lead him to an important source of evidence. Unfortunately girlfriend Margo and girlfriend’s girlfriend arrive first, and Cranston’s butler, Shrevvie (George Chandler), hides them behind the couch just in time as Miss Merrill arrives. Here the two are listening with increasing agitation as Cranston makes progress of various kinds.
It’s all very comical, but that’s the last we see of the lovely Edith. As she exits and takes the elevator down a shadowy figure is waiting and grabs her from behind.
On another occasion The Shadow attempts to penetrate a suspect’s fortified position and tangles with three of his henchmen. He defeats the three through the application of John Barrymore gymnastics and Shrevvie wielding a pair of Indian clubs (they are in a gymnasium).
Of course it all comes to an end when Cranston gets the host of suspects together at the newspaper office and reveals the mystery killer.
What this has over and beyond last Sunday’s bad movie is a hint at direction and cinematography. Settings and shots are more realistic, and the action moves, comparatively. Vis, the stiffness rampant last Sunday:
Some of these movies are available to watch free on YouTube:
But I’m guessing not this one. I will have a review of The Shadow Returns some Sunday in the future. Not soon.