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The Shadow

a survey of summer movies that just didn’t catch on

(NOTE: I’ve decided to go back to cover two Summer Flings that I regret having skipped.)

July 1, 1994

Look, I can’t say for sure what audiences were yearning for in the summer of ’94, but it might have been a cartoon about lions and it might not have been a super hero movie set in the 1930s, based on a character from serialized radio dramas. Here is yet another entry in my beloved genre of old-timey-super-hero-movie-that-totally-failed-at-the-box-office-but-I-thought-it-was-pretty-good. I suppose THE SHADOW seemed like a more sensible bet than some of them, because it was at least a character with vague name recognition and noir influences like BATMAN (in fact some believe the first Batman story was a rip-off of a Shadow story called “Partners of Peril”).

At first glance The Shadow (Alec Baldwin, THE GETAWAY) does seem like kind of a Batman-esque character. He’s a rich handsome guy named Lamont Cranston who lives a secret life, going out at night as a scary figure, fighting criminals. He doesn’t have a cape, but a black cloak that serves the same purpose, plus a hat and a mask over the mouth and two guns. And hidden in an alley is the entrance to his Batcave-like secret base.

But then he’s got this whole other thing going where after he saves people’s lives he compels/scares them into becoming his agents. So he has a cabbie (Peter Boyle, THE FRIENDS OF EDDIE COYLE) who is his loyal 24-7 on-call driver, and other people across the city that he can call on for their expertise or get a heads up from.

And then there are his powers. I believe about the only gadget he uses is a flashing communicator ring – otherwise he’s operating on ancient magic. I don’t know if it’s all just hypnotizing people, but he seems to be able to be invisible, or turn into a shadow. He can “cloud men’s minds,” Jedi Mind Trick style, making people forget things they saw or even decide to jump out a window. He gets a new girlfriend named Margo Lane (likably flustered Penelope Ann Miller, DEAD BANG) who he has a telepathic link to, so he calls to her across town when he’s in trouble. In a way it’s more like DOCTOR STRANGE than Batman.

One sign that wasn’t gonna catch on, that is also why it’s special: the character is immediately pretty fuckin weird. The opening deliberately throws us for a loop by introducing Baldwin in Tibet with long hair, going by the name Yin-Ko. He sits in a throne lording over his opium gang minions, who fear his wrath and tell legends of his brutal raids on villages. It’s never acknowledged that he’s the only white guy here, so you can’t help but wonder at least for a minute if he’s supposed to be playing Asian or what.

Then a magical good guy Tulku (Brady Tsurutani, voice of Barry Dennen [BRANNIGAN]) has him kidnapped, knows that his real name is Lamont Cranston and that he is at war with the evil that lurks in the hearts of men (specifically his own). So the Tulku trains him to magically control his evil and use it as this magical alter-ego called The Shadow that even looks physically different from him – Baldwin wears a fake nose when he’s the Shadow to resemble the character depicted on the covers of pulp magazines. In my opinion it also makes him look more like Billy Baldwin, so maybe that’s why Joel Schumacher wanted Billy for BATMAN & ROBIN.

By the way, my research tells me that none of this stuff in Tibet comes from the source material, it’s a new invention of the screenplay by David Koepp (I COME IN PEACE, JURASSIC PARK). And by the way, congratulations to this movie for only having one writer credited! But I’ve seen it three or more times and I’m still unclear how or why this American became an infamous Tibetan warlord during his wild years. I guess it’s good experience to have, though, because when one of the Tulku’s other students, Genghis Khan descendent Shiwan Khan (John Lone, THE HUNTED, RUSH HOUR 2, WAR), kills his master and comes to New York to create an atomic bomb and conquer the world, he stops by and tips him off first.

They’re sort of mirror images of each other, with similar powers and alternating between a suave suit and tie look and an alter ego (Khan’s wears Mongol armor). Also, both are big on evil laughter. The Shadow uses it to intimidate people while invisible and Khan uses it while causing a cab driver to drive into a wall or make a guard shoot himself in the head or what have you.

Lone isn’t bad at all, but something about the character or his presence doesn’t quite seem strong enough for the villain who anchors a movie like this. His job is mainly to look contemptuous while bossing around his hypnotized pawns, including Margo’s goofy astrophysicist father (Ian McKellen, THE KEEP, in a role similar to John Hurt’s in the Koepp-scripted KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL) and his obnoxious assistant (Tim Curry, CONGO). I love when Khan orders his troops to go kill The Shadow and Curry asks, “Can’t I stay here and help you?”

Baldwin’s stretch as a leading man didn’t last too long, but here is a starring role he was uniquely suited for. As top-ranking brother in a family renowned for handsomeness (“He is such a Baldwin,” CLUELESS, 1995) obviously he fits the part of the debonair socialite. But he also has an incredible voice, crucial for a character who often taunts his foes while invisible. In fact, the name “The Shadow” was first used for the mysterious narrator of the Detective Story Hour radio show, before they ever gave him a backstory. In subsequent years Baldwin would become a prolific narrator, and even at that point had already done a Swedish documentary called TONG TANA.

The role also takes advantage of Baldwin’s dry humor, another quality that would emerge more in later years. I hadn’t seen MIAMI BLUES at the time so I didn’t know he was so funny. This role is mostly serious, but he has a couple great moments that crack me up, mostly related to acting too casual with this Mongol barbarian sorcerer who has emerged from the tomb of Genghis Khan and invaded his secret base. Cranston asks him, “So, what brings you to the Big Apple?”

Later, after Khan smarmily denounces the arrogance of “you Americans,” Cranston says…

“Hey! That’s the U.S. of A. you’re talking about, pal.”

A pioneer of the music video and the music-video-to-feature-film directing path, director Russell Mulcahy made the stylish RAZORBACK (1984) and then hit it kind of big with HIGHLANDER (1986) and for now let’s make no judgment about HIGHLANDER II (1991). (I have promised Fred Topel that I will review that whole series in the future.) I’m a fan of the weird Denzel thriller RICOCHET (1991) and neither BLUE ICE (1992) or THE REAL MCCOY (1993) shook the world, but the latter must’ve got him an in with Baldwin, so here he is with his shot at the big time, a movie with stars, giant period sets built on five soundstages, tons of great matte paintings and early digital effects for a couple sequences involving a ceremonial dagger that comes to life and tries to bite. (At the time it was an exciting summer-after-JURASSIC-PARK gimmick, now it’s still cool because it looks like something from TRILOGY OF TERROR or PUPPET MASTER.)

I guess you could say Mulcahy’s big shot was a cultural airball, but I think he did a good job. He crams the movie with energetic camera moves (including one following a pneumatic tube across New York City as a message races through it) and gimmicks involving shadows, invisibility and hypnotism. In one cool nightmare sequence, the camera rotates around Baldwin as he tears his own face off and reveals the villain’s beneath it. I also like the shot of what appear to be embroidered carpets that start to swirl and then you realize it’s an overhead shot of Khan emerging from a fancy robe. I really wasn’t sure if it was done in camera or not.

Visual invention and energy-wise some of this stuff reminds me of Sam Raimi, which is interesting because DARKMAN obviously took some inspiration from the Shadow, and around 2006 Raimi got the rights to make a new Shadow movie that never materialized. One could argue that this is because this character is never gonna really catch on as a movie, but Raimi said he just never developed a good enough script.

* * *

I don’t remember there being any Shadowmania occurring during the summer of ’94, but they had all the shit ready if it had gone down. Burger King had a THE SHADOW watch, Keebler had a 1-800 number for an interactive phone game, there were a whole lot of promotional rings, and old timey radios that played the original radio show. There were collector cards from Topps, a lunchbox, a reproduction of the magic knife, a novelization by James Luceno (who writes official STAR WARS novels now), a board game, a handheld electronic game, a puzzle, a pinball machine. They made a Super Nintendo game but I guess they ended up not releasing it because of the failure of the movie.

And yes, there was a line of action figures and vehicles such as the “Thunder Cab,” the “Nightmist Motorcycle” and “Shiwan Khan Serpent Bike.” Some of these are not screen accurate in my opinion.

“Ninja Shadow with blazing eyes,” huh?

That ad mentions the mailaway for a Shadow ring, but there was also one for “Bullet-Proof Shadow” with electronic laugh.

Like DICK TRACY in 1990 and come to think of it JURASSIC PARK in 1993 they tried to follow BATMAN’s lead in using simple iconography for the poster. It’s an angular purple carve-out of just The Shadow’s hat brim, eyes and the visible part of his face, glimmering as if molded in fiber glass at the same factory that made the Batman symbol. This image also appears on screen at the very end.

Jerry Goldsmith’s score is somewhat in the Danny Elfman big orchestral gothic mode, and very effective. Then it’s a shock when the credits hit and the movie immediately ditches its period faithfulness. What the hell is this? I thought it was Tina Turner for a second, but it’s Taylor Dayne. And I’m no Meat Loaf expert, but I noticed that the hugely melodramatic build from quiet piano to loud guitars to epic backup choir means this one is written by Jim Steinman. It seems like she’s singing in the point of view of The Shadow struggling with his dark side, which is not entirely true because the song was originally recorded in 1989 by a Steinman group called Pandora’s Box. But this new version changes the lyric “It’s not enough to live a little better every day” to “And who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men today?” and adds a whole part about “It’s a city of shadow / It’s a city of light / It’s a city of secrets / it’s a city of pride.”

Yeah, I don’t know how the hell they decided to make this song happen, but I strongly endorse it.

Also I learned from the credits that there was a Kenny G song played in the Cobalt Club. Luckily I missed it.

I’m glad I decided to go back to this one, not only because I always enjoy it, but because this time it led me to

A MAJOR SEAGALOGICAL DISCOVERY.

Okay, actually it’s a minor one, but it’s the kind of miniscule detail I obsess over. See, there’s this stuntman named Nils Allen Stewart, you see him as a henchman in lots of things, and he does stunts in the UNDER SIEGEs, ONE TOUGH BASTARD, ESCAPE FROM L.A. and all kinds of stuff, but I started to notice him after he starred in the 1999 TV movie THE JESSE VENTURA STORY. When I saw ON DEADLY GROUND on the Cinefamily screen I spotted for the first time that one of the oil workers Forrest beats up in the bar has what I called a Tong Po haircut – completely bald except for a big thick braid hanging off of the back – and I thought that was funny that one of these Alaskan oil workers would have a haircut like that. But I recognized him as Stewart and I know he has some weird mustaches and stuff sometimes, I figured that’s just how he rolls.

So a few years later here I am watching THE SHADOW, released in the same year as ON DEADLY GROUND, so presumably filmed around the same time, and I see…

…Nils Allen Stewart as one of Shiwan Khan’s Mongol henchmen! And all the sudden it hits me that that’s why an oil worker would have that crazy hair cut like that – because he was growing it to play a Mongol in THE SHADOW! Or maybe he had already done THE SHADOW and he decided fuck it, I’m a Mongol now, I’m keeping it.

Anyway, this action figure seems to be based on him, so pick one up if you’re trying to build an ON DEADLY GROUND playset.

THE SHADOW was considered to have opened well, coming in 2nd place to THE LION KING and beating other newcomers BLOWN AWAY, I LOVE TROUBLE, BABY’S DAY OUT and LITTLE BIG LEAGUE. But it ended up only making $8 million more than its $40 million budget, making this yet another non-starter intended franchise.

Baldwin did some more lead roles, including HEAVEN’S PRISONERS and THE EDGE, before becoming more of a character actor and then a comedic one thanks to hosting Saturday Night Live and co-starring on 30 Rock. He hasn’t really had a part in this type of tentpole movie since – unless maybe you count MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – ROGUE NATION – but it’s easy to assume he’s not really interested in that stuff. I doubt he ever sat on the sets of THE AVIATOR, THE DEPARTED or BLUE JASMINE thinking “shit, I wish that SHADOW thing had caught on.”

Mulcahy, though, seems to have been knocked back down to the minors. His next movie was SILENT TRIGGER starring Dolph Lundgren and after that mostly TV stuff, plus the bland DTV sequel SCORPION KING 2 and the okay Tom Jane movie GIVE ‘EM HELL, MALONE. The one major exception is RESIDENT EVIL: EXTINCTION, which actually had a bigger budget than THE SHADOW (not adjusted for inflation) and is one of the best of its series, in my opinion. His current project is about Errol Flynn’s youthful days as an adventurer in Australia – fingers crossed that he’ll find his mojo on that one.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
This entry was posted on Wednesday, July 5th, 2017 at 9:14 am and is filed under Comic strips/Super heroes, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

40 Responses to “The Shadow”

  1. Dikembe Mutombo

    July 5th, 2017 at 9:57 am

    I had to be one of the only Shadowmaniacs in America. This movie came out when I was 9 years old, and the fact that there was a superhero who shot people with akimbo handguns was insanely cool to me. I loved the whole thing, the pneumatic tubes were insanely badass, and I was scared shitless of the flying knife that bites you. I haven’t seen it since it came out, but I’m encouraged by the fact that you liked it Vern.

    Tarantino loves to talk about how the Alec Baldwin of this era would’ve been the best Batman, and it’s hard to disagree.

  2. All I remember about this one was that a friend of mine had tickets to an advance screening he couldn’t go to, so he gave them to me and I never used them for some reason so I had to lie about how much I liked the movie. I’m still not 100% sure I’ve ever seen it, but if that friend ever asks, I thought it was great.

    The Alec Baldwin of this era also would have made a pretty great Punisher.

  3. The emptiest screening in my young life up until then. Just me, my brother and two other guys. Someone from one of the churches was handing out fliers comparing the Shadow to the dude upstairs.

    I seem to remember an interview with Baldwin saying he was offered and really wanted to do one of the Marvel films but was stuck in that godawful ROCK OF AGES. I really hope he gets to do that HBO show that was talked up a few years ago, but I guess maybe playing Trump has taken up that energy in his life now.

  4. I remember the big ad campaign for this. Even had the crazy music video for the big epic soundtrack ballad and everything. It was like randomly cut trailers and you’d be lile “whoa it has a a living dagger and Alec Baldwin has a clay face” but you will get no info as to why this is. They just assume you would know the deal based off some poster that looked like an NES cover for a game called Private Eyes or something. Kinda obnoxious.

    When I eventually saw it on video I was disappointed because it did not live up to what I thought it would be (like a bigger budget DARKMAN). It did grow on me over the years though just like THE PHANTOM also did. In the end this was the movie that convinced me that mayber Burton probably got the wrong BEETLEJUICE guy for his Batman after all because prior to this I didn’t get why so many wanted Baldwin in that role outside of just looks. But he had it in him all along to be as haunted and warped as Keaton was in that part. That was probably the biggest takeaway for me.

  5. I also don’t know what 1994 audiences wanted, but it definitely wasn’t an old timey period piece, even if it was effect heavy popcorn fun or light hearted screwball comedy throwback. After all this was the year when THE SHADOW, THE HUDSUCKER PROXY and RADIOLAND MURDERS came out! (At least time was good to all three of them.)

    Every time I watch THE SHADOW I can’t shake the feeling off, that there is an at least 30 minutes longer director’s cut existing somewhere. As much as I like it, it feels like there are several parts missing.

    One of my biggest regrets in life, btw, was not playing with this motherfucker, when I stumbled across it on Ibiza in 2011.

    Imgur: The most awesome images on the Internet

    Imgur: The most awesome images on the Internet.

  6. I love this movie. I remember going to see this in 94 and being very aware that it was not going to catch on, based on the near-empty theater in which I saw it. But I think it still holds up. One of the biggest problems is that it can’t figure out a way to straddle the family-friendly/PG-13 line – there are some parts that are legitimately creepy.

    I still would like to get my hands on the original poster, but I will make do with my Lamont Cranston/Shadow action figure. Somewhere along the line, I lost his “Shadow” covering, which pops off when he wants to be Lamont, but I still give him a place of honor in my office.

  7. I didn’t like this one when I went and saw it in the nearly-empty dollar theater (catching a theme in the comments here) but ended up liking it better on video and it has since become one I revisit every now-and-then (not as much as THE PHANTOM though). All the cool inventive visual shit that seems to be going away, the purposely fetishistic old-timey feel, and the great cast lead me to like this one more than it probably maybe deserves. Helps that I always had a softspot for Mulchahy. I keep holding out hope that he’s going to make a comeback and makes us realize how bad we missed out by regulating him to cheap DTV crap and TV all these years (I agree his RESIDENT EVIL is one of the better ones).* Then again maybe not, style seems to be increasingly looked down upon by both studios and (depressingly) the audience now-a-days.

    *Side-tangent: Recently did a Mummy marathon to lead up Tom Cruise’s MUMMY: IMPOSSIBLE and as such Russel Mulchahy’s TALE OF THE MUMMY was on the list. It shockingly wasn’t a complete waist of time. In fact for a DTV movie (though I read it was SUPPOSED to go to theaters and made it there in a few European countries) it wasn’t to bad I thought. Had an inventive use of (arguably not very good) CGI and fun/stupid gimmick using the Mummy’s bandages. As it must though, the ending is a complete mess but I enjoyed my time with it over all. Please note: even though I mostly enjoyed it there is still better use of your time probably.

  8. Holden,

    As the exception to the rule, Legends of the Fall was a fairly successful Golden Age throwback, but it’s not like epic-war-romance was ever entirely out of favor.

    But yeah, ’94 was way more into Baby Boomer nostalgia — Forrest Gump, The Flintstones, Pulp Fiction, and Maverick all dug into wildly different aspects of it to massive box office success. (and, outside of Flintstones, lasting popularity, even if Pulp Fiction has vastly eclipsed the other two in the long run)

    There’s so much that’s good and fun about The Shadow that it really is a bummer it didn’t catch on. Baldwin and Goldsmith, in particular, really bring their A-game, and it would be great to see what they would have done with a follow-up.

  9. Holy shit I love that song. Vern, you really should give Streets of Fire a go if you have never see it. It has the single greatest Jim Steinam song ever.

  10. I loved this one. I really like this time period/vibe, though. I don’t know what that says about me, since, like Vern said, it seems to be the kiss of death. I love how lush everything feels – the colors, the sets, the wardrobe and just the overall filmatism.

    I love the weird humor like the U.S. of A comment. A couple other spots of that are when he says, “Oh, THAT knife.” Also when she is telling him about her beautiful, seductive dream and he says he dreamt he ripped his face off and was another man underneath. She told him he needed help and he just deadpans, “I’m aware.”

    And I also loved them as a couple. It felt substantial. She wasn’t just “the girl”. They had great chemistry together and as separate characters. I loved that she was bubbly and goofy and sexy. She’s one of those women who can play both awkward and sexy and be believable in both. Not like one of those women who is obviously sexy and beautiful and they just put a pair of glasses on her and pretend she’s a nerd. I loved it when he tried to use his Shadow tricks on her and they wouldn’t work. He looks confused and fascinated, but also a little afraid.

  11. Kevin Holsinger

    July 5th, 2017 at 2:32 pm

    Good evening, Vern and all.

    Became obsessed with this film as a kid. Still love it today.

    I remember getting the film score, and on it was, “includes the hit ‘Original Sin.’ “…

    https://www.amazon.com/Shadow-Soundtrack/dp/B00000EBHH/ref=sr_1_1_twi_cas_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1499289988&sr=8-1&keywords=the+shadow+jerry+goldsmith

    While I love that song to this day, I’m not going to pretend I EVER heard it on the radio, let alone heard it numerous times because of how big a “hit” it was. Cassette case kinda jumped the gun there.

    Anyway, thanks for the review, Vern.

    And while I’m here, did you ever see the Blade cartoon I sent you in March?

    Be seeing you.

  12. Women like Penelope Ann Miller just aren’t given leading roles anymore.

  13. Penelope Ann Miller is flat out gorgeous in this. Especially in that silver dress. She and Baldwin have great chemistry as well.

    “You have problems.”
    “I know.”

  14. Sternshein – Here’s a link to Vern’s review of Streets of Fire, and if you’re referring to “Tonight is What It Means to Be Young”, then you’re correct, it does contain the greatest Jim Steinman song ever (possibly the greatest song ever, period) –

    Streets of Fire

    You guys ever heard of this one? Okay, you were right, STREETS OF FIRE is pretty cool. I was a little skeptical because the poster calls it &qout;A Rock & Roll Fable,&qout; which is not really one of my top kinds of fables. I’m more of a free jazz fable type of guy, I like SPACE IS THE PLACE. Also I got s…

    Original Sin may not be Steinman’s best song, but it may be his MOST STEINMAN song. Just unabashedly outrageous and melodramatic, it seems destined to make 99% of people go “what the hell is this?” and give the other 1% a big grin on their face. I somehow never saw this video until now – it’s funny how it entirely spoils the end of the final fight of the movie!

    Re: the actual movie, I remember seeing it as a kid and enjoying it, and thinking even though it was a PG-13 superhero movie (so by default it’s technically “for the kids”) there was just the right amount of brutality and violence that made this feel kinda dangerous to my young eyes. (Now kids get to watch Optimus Prime mercilessly cap whimpering bad guys in the head, so I’m sure this won’t faze them at all).

  15. I read Alec Baldwin’s autobiography and he never even mentions this movie, so that’s how little he thinks about it. He does mention Miami Blues briefly, but I wouldn’t recommend it for anyone interested in any of his movies. It seems he mostly did movies to be able to afford to do theater.

    The Shadow opened my first weekend working at a movie theater. I heard that song every time I ushered the theater, but that still wasn’t enough so I bought the soundtrack. Meat Loaf did rerecord the Pandora’s Box version for his 1995 album Welcome to the Neighborhood.

    Glad you’re going back to earlier summer flings and thank you for the shout out re: Highlander!

  16. Kevin – yes, I watched some of it, need to watch more. Thank you!

  17. CrustaceanLove

    July 5th, 2017 at 5:00 pm

    I’ve always liked this movie and been rooting for Russell Mulcahy ever since RAZORBACK, which is my favourite JAWS-type movie of all time (except for JAWS). Public opinion seems to have really turned around on failed pulp hero blockbusters like THE SHADOW, THE ROCKETEER and, to a lesser extent, THE PHANTOM. There’s a loud minority who still get excited about any potential pulp hero film adaptation, but honestly I don’t think they’d be any more popular these days. The impact of those types of stories has been diluted across decades of genre fiction.

    It’s interesting to see the early Batman comics influenced by The Shadow, then to see the reverse happen with the film adaptations. They pay tribute to this influence in a great episode of BATMAN THE ANIMATED SERIES in which Batman teams up with an retired actor (voiced by Adam West) who played a Shadow-esque pulp hero named Gray Ghost.

    One of my favourite things in action films is seeing distinctive-looking actors cropping up in minor henchmen roles again and again. Are there any modern-day equivalents? The only one I know of is Tait Fletcher. I’ve seen his very distinctive pointy-moustache/beard combo crop up in JOHN WICK, THE EQUALIZER and THE ACCOUNTANT.

  18. I remember as a little’un a cousin of mine showing me his Shadow action figure, at a later date we watched the movie on VHS.

    Unfortunately I haven’t rewatched the movie since the early 00s so my memory’s not exactly fresh, I’ve been meaning to rewatch it again.

  19. I have fond memories of this movie even though at the time I knew it was not going to be a big hit or anything. It was a fairly entertaining film and Alec Baldwin had great chemistry with Penelope Ann Miller as you have pointed out.

    My experience watching in a cinema is fairly specific since I watched it in Singapore. When it comes to the moment in the film where Baldwin decides to show off his language skills to Miller to impress her, the entire cinema roared with laughter when he declared he knew “Mandarin” and proceeded to make his order in a mangled dialect that was clearly Cantonese! Thankfully, I have noticed an improvement of the use and reference of Mandarin and Cantonese in movies and TV since the mid-2000s.

  20. CJ, Shadow pinball was pretty ubiquitous here in the US throughout the 90s. Unfortunately, the table has a lot of spooky magnet gimmicks, meaning that if you come across one now, it’s usually pretty busted. However, if you can find one that’s working properly, it’s a great table.

  21. At last! Been hoping you would review this for years, Vern, just so I could go on record and say how brilliant I think PAM and John Lone are in it.

    I make it a duty of mine to emulate Shiwan Kahn when responding to any dubious compliment with his inflection of ‘THANK you!’ (After ‘You’re a barbarian.’). Like Frank Langella in Masters of the Universe and Cutthroat Island, he seems to be having a ball.

    Also the bullet hit in the restaurant is great.

  22. I’ve missed out on so many pinball machines, because we don’t have arcades and if we had, they would’ve been only for adults because of gambling laws. We were lucky if a cool pinball was in a burger joint or a movie theatre or somewhere similar, but that rarely happened.

  23. When I first learned of the existence of IMDB, I looked to see whether Billy Baldwin was actually playing The Shadow while Alec was playing Lamont Cranston. I was disappointed to learn that it was just a prosthetic nose. This film convinced me that pneumatic tubes are still the most sophisticated means of communication. We should bring them back.

  24. Nice review! I’m a bit Verne hasn’t reviewed THE EDGE yet. Maybe that’ll be another cool, timely retro review drop in the near future sometime?

  25. Thomas Caniglia

    July 6th, 2017 at 2:46 pm

    There is something deeply depressing to me about when productions like this are made with such optimism and good faith in their product, and they plan toys and games and stuff like that, and it doesn’t work out. I liked this movie when it came out and I really thought it deserved better. Audiences are such fickle, weird mobs. I am glad I’m not in the movie business. I’d hate to put so much effort into trying to make something fun and have people not give it a try.

  26. Brian, I’ve been meaning to rewatch that for years. I remember really liking it.

  27. It’s funny. I bet if you were to ask people what they thought of The Shadow or The Phantom they would most likely say they are both bad movies. However, I bet those same people have never actually seen either one.

  28. Do we already know that Shane Black’s Doc Savage movie is cancelled, or are we just trying to jinx it with all this talk of there being no audience for movies based on classic pulp heroes? I, for one, really want to see that movie. And I’ll buy the lunch box and the action figures. I’m just sorry it comes too late for a Paul Gleason cameo.

    Right now, I think THE SHADOW has the edge on THE ROCKETEER as the best of these movies – if we ignore that THE ROCKETEER originates from the 1980s, and we’re not counting Donner’s SUPERMAN, Milius’s CONAN THE BARBARIAN, and JOHN CARTER.

  29. Oh no, I think the time is absolutely ripe for a movie like that to finally be a huge hit. They would be idiots not to make more of these.

    (do you think they bought it)

  30. the winchester

    July 7th, 2017 at 5:10 pm

    I used to have the Shadow duel gun slinging action figure. It had a transparent piece on the top of his hat, so you could hold it to the light and his eyes would glow. I may still have it.

    My favorite part is when Baldwin is talking to Lone and stops him to point out his great tie. My friend and I still quote it to this day.

    I always thought it was Daniel in the Shadow outfit. He seemed too bulky for Alec.

    ANd finally, why not include The Relic with Penelope Ann Miller’s name? That movie’s great!

  31. Vern, how about a review of K-20: SHADOW OF THE MASK? It’s a Japanese take on the SHADOW/PHANTOM-type of film, set in an alternative version of the ‘40s where WW II never happened (or didn’t involve Japan, at least).

    Here’s a trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ErCZJceqi5s

  32. ( or LEGEND OF THE (BLACK) MASK, apparently…)

  33. I actually had the opposite reaction than most people here when I was leaving my dollar movie screening, in that I was dumbfounded as to why it wasn’t a huge hit.

    The only thing I could figure was that the third act gets a little too tongue-in-cheek, and the general movie-going masses just found it silly (I mean, it is silly, but you’re laughing with not at).

    I always thought it’s closest cinematic cousin was The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai, which leads me to an anecdote that proves Sternshein’s point: About six or seven years ago I was involved with programming summer/family type fare for outdoor screenings in a park. My fellow organizers were mostly movie-snob types who were more than happy to screen Buckaroo Banzai. However, when I suggested The Shadow, the scoffing was strong. Needless to say, as I continued to plead my case, it turned out the majority of them had never seen it, nor would they even give it a look (“Life’s too short to sit through a Burton Batman rip-off starring Alec Baldwin” said one of the snobs). ONE of the scoffers agreed to actually give it a look, and sooprize, sooprize, she ended up really liking it.

  34. The Ninja Shadow action figure is one of the most hilariously fucked up movie tie-in concepts of all time.

    It’s The Shadow with his fedora, mask and cape but he doesn’t have a top on. His torso is completely bare and as he flexes to chuck his nunchucks his abs are on full display. It looks like Bolo Yeung as Chong Li as The Shadow.

    Kinda wish Baldwin would’ve had a moment where he was The Shadow but with his hairy chest in full display. Don’t remember if that ended up making the movie but I’m sure I’d recall something that absurdly hysterical.

  35. Ha I just watched The Mask on Hulu and Nils Allen Stewart is a henchman in that took still with the Mongol hairdo. All 1994.

  36. I bet he kept getting calls after he grew it out and everybody was disappointed when he showed up for the audition

  37. “I used to have the Shadow duel gun slinging action figure. It had a transparent piece on the top of his hat, so you could hold it to the light and his eyes would glow. I may still have it.”

    That’s the exact figure my cousin showed me.

  38. Now I want to look for him in all his ’94/95 roles to see how long he kept it!

  39. Such a fan of this movie, so thanks for the review Vern. It has some great scenes (like the bit in that flooding room). Yeah, the CGI was dated, and the nose thing…who knows (lol), but Baldwin is smoldering in this.

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