The Shadow tells the story of an unlikely superhero, a man known as Lamont Cranston, a man with a dark history, a bandit, a villain living out in a far-away desert landscape, when he is one day taken to a temple and schooled by a mysterious Buddhist (judging by appearance) monk in the strength of his mind and given a fate to do good. So, he returns to his place of birth... which just so happens to be New York City, and there he does as good as he can, hiding in the shadows, saving people (and then using them as informants), laughing maniacally at bad guys, staring at them with that cold glare you see above... doing pretty good, until suddenly one day the last descendant of Genghis Khan decides to knock on his door, tell him he's a great admire of the old Lamont Cranston (the evil alter-ego) and that he'd like to rule the world together.
The Shadow politely declines.
And after that, well of course things go sour. There's battle, there's a nuclear bomb (also worth noting is this movie supposedly takes place before the atomic split was conceived - in script that is - so it's really something out of the ordinary), there are traps and plots and schemes for world domination, and at the end of it... I feel like they wanted too much, it's just not as down to Earth as movies from the same era, detailing other superhero struggles like... The Phantom (I'll be reviewing that one next). At the time I'm sure it was awesome, which my sister seems to attest to, but I'm not sure it stands up to the test of time.
Not to say it's a bad movie, but that maniacal laughter, that beautiful but slightly air-headed dame that accompanies the main character and apparently shares some form of mental bond, that zoomed in glare that the camera holds in focus for just a few seconds too long, the a bit silly fist fights, the ahead-of-their-time spacial digital effects that are now of the past... it bends the intensity a bit. On the other hand the sceneries are great, Alex Baldwin is great, it's fun seeing how New York (supposedly) looked back in the 20s or 30s and the mailing tube system through which all informants sent their messages was entertaining gadgetry... the details play roles, the beginning comes back full circle. There's great potential for a great movie, but I feel it doesn't play out all its aces. Amongst other superhero movies it's a forgotten gem, left in the shadow. And it's for a reason.
rated 3/5: not bad