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The Shadow Strikes . . . 75 Years Later!

Posted in Movies,Upcoming Books on August 31, 2012 @ 2:41 pm

Seventy-five years ago, Grand National Films — a small Hollywood studio — released The Shadow Strikes, the initial entry in what was intended to be a series of four feature-length films adapted from the pulp-fiction adventures of Walter B. Gibson’s legendary crime fighter. The character had previously appeared in six 20-minute featurettes released by Universal Pictures during the 1931-32 season, but those “Shadow Detective” short subjects hewed to the format of radio’s Detective Story Hour, which made The Shadow a host/narrator rather than an active participant in the mystery yarns being dramatized. The Shadow Strikes was the first movie to “star” Gibson’s Master of Darkness. Based on a 1933 story titled “The Ghost of the Manor,” it cast silent-silent leading man Rod La Rocque as Lamont Cranston (whose name was misspelled “Granston” in the on-screen credits).

For various reasons The Shadow Strikes was not particularly well received. It was followed the next year by International Crime, ostensibly based on Ted Tinsley’s 1937 Shadow Magazine novel “Foxhound” but bearing even less similarity to its source than the previous film did to “Ghost of the Manor.” Grand National terminated the series following the release of the second entry, and by all accounts nobody was particularly upset by the decision.

I’ve just written an article detailing the behind-the-scenes history of these two films for the upcoming volume (Number 66) of Shadow reprints published by Anthony Tollin’s Sanctum Books. Both “Manor” and “Foxhound” appear as they did in the pages of The Shadow Magazine, uncut and accompanied by the original interior illustrations. The book is scheduled for a late October release, almost exactly 75 years to the day after The Shadow Strikes started making the rounds of America’s movie theaters.


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