The Shadow Could Be Returning To The Big Screen

The Shadow knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men and could possibly be bringing that knowledge to theaters at some point in the intermediate future.

Deadline is reporting that mystery novelist James Patterson will be headlining a new series of books featuring the 1930s and 40s pulp hero “that will also aim to be adapted for the screen.”

Interestingly, Patterson states in a press release that he is “looking forward to bringing his legendary character to life in the modern age.” Since the character has the mystic ability to “cloud men’s minds” in order to be be invisible to them, I have wondered how the Shadow would conceivably work in our modern day world full of surveillance video and the like.

No other real details about the series and potential film spinoffs have been disclosed outside of the first book coming out in the fall of 2021. That would place any film adaptation as coming sometime in 2022 at the very earliest. Most likely though, it would be some time after that.

The Shadow was created as the host of the 1930 radio series Detective Story Hour, but was such a hit with audiences that the producers spun him off in 1931 as his own adventuring character in a self-titled pulp magazine with writer Walter Gibson ultimately churning out two full-length Shadow novels a month. By 1937, the character had become so popular that the Shadow moved on the radio from spooky anthology series to main star, with Orson Welles providing the his voice for the first year that the newly christened The Shadow ran on the Mutual Broadcasting System.

Even in the 1930s and `40s, the Shadow was sought after for the silver screen. At the height of the character’s popularity he appeared in 1937 and 1938 in two low budget features from Grand National Pictures starring Rod La Rocque and then a much better budgeted 15-chapter serial from Columbia Pictures starring Victor Jory in 1940. In 1946, Monogram Studios made three cheapie b-pictures featuring Kane Richmond as the Shadow.

The Shadow returned to the silver screen in 1994 in a big budgeted film starring Alec Baldwin as Lamont Cranston aka the Shadow. While director Russell Mulcahy managed to create some interesting visuals early in the film – specifically in the sequence when the Shadow is first revealed on a bridge – the script was a mess. Whereas the pulps took years to reveal the Shadow’s origins, the movie frontloaded it in the first ten minutes or so. While many of the supporting performances were solid, Tim Curry manages to drag the film’s third act down with some heavy, hammy camp. The film was a financial and critical failure.

Evil Dead director Sam Raimi was interested in doing a new Shadow film in the mid-2000s, possibly as his first film following his Spider-Man trilogy, but the director ultimately stated that they weren’t able to come up with a script that they were happy with. In 2010, a rumor circulated that Quentin Tarantino was interested in doing a Shadow film, though nothing ever came of it.

The Shadow has also appeared in a number of comics from different publishers including an acclaimed run from DC Comics in the 1970s. More recently Dynamite published several Shadow one-shots and miniseries, while publisher Sanctum Press has reprinted nearly all of the original 325 pulp stories.

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About Rich Drees 7219 Articles
A film fan since he first saw that Rebel Blockade Runner fleeing the massive Imperial Star Destroyer at the tender age of 8 and a veteran freelance journalist with twenty-five years experience writing about film and pop culture. He is a member of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle.
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