Monday, June 20, 2011

The Shadow: Preview of Terror

Lamont Cranston/The Shadow: Bret Morrison
Margo Lane: Grace Mathews

Villains: Murderer

Sponser: one? Education? All of the ad space in this particular program was spent promoing other Mutual Network shows (including Mayor of the Town featuring Agnes Moorehead who also played Margo Lane. I don't know if that's before or after. It is before she started calling Darren 'Derwood' on Bewitched, though.) The middle ad was a promotion for science education in America. Still timely.

Well, I'm bored, so it's time for me to comment on another Shadow radio program.

Like the last Morrison/Mathews Shadow program, this one is light on the life Cranston and Lane have outside of fighting crime. We know they're going somewhere and that it's super important, but we don't actually know what it is they're going to. Thanks to a little used narrator we do know that it is raining pretty heavily and that there is a man waving a lantern in the roadway. Of course, we learn that in the dialog, too. That's the thing about radio play dialog, it is sometimes overwhelmingly expository.

To that end you can almost generate the old man's frustration trying to inform our intrepid travelers about a washed out road. Anyone who has had to warn someone about a hazard can feel it. Essentially, it's "You can't go down here. Roads washed out." "Is it bad." "It's washed out." "Well, we really need to get by, how bad is it washed out?" Insert the sigh that should go here..."Too bad to pass through."

With no small degree of menace the old man informs our travelers that there is a little used road they can use to pass, but suggests that their best course of action would be to go home.

This of course is a rouse. The first of a few rouses that happen in this particular episode. Instead of a crossing they find a house with a creepy old woman who has been expecting them all along. She also manages to insinuate that the man with the lantern has been dead for years. Creepy, yes?

Well, any attempt to leave is thwarted by a giant man who has pulled out the distributor of Lamont's car, knocking out both Cranston and Lane, apparently.

I don't want to give away the cross/double cross of it all, but once again The Shadow is more or less a spectator to the murderous plot, only showing up in time for people to die. This time the person shot while giving The Shadow information actually manages to eek out his accusation before finally dieing. Of course, his theory is wrong, but oh well.

The whole plot is actually figured out by one of the satellite characters while Lamont is chasing red herrings in the parking lot. The Shadow only shows up in time to prevent the exposed murderer from adding to his list of victims, apparently 'as the man says, they can only hang you once.'

There's some great exposition lines in here. When someone opens a secret passage Lane exclaims, "A hand...a human hand!" Thanks for clarifying that...when the hand is identified as a womans, Cranston clarifies "and exceptionally beautiful woman."

The premise hangs on another one of my favorite tropes of The Shadow. Lamont Cranston knows everyone. This person is a famous director that both Lamont and Lane had met 'on the coast' some time ago. This is a pattern for The Shadow, quite often, knows some key figure in the story. Most often the villain. Which is an interesting implication. Lamont Cranston is a complete shit judge of character, most of his friends turn out to be mad scientists and murders. It might actually be that he had to adopt the persona of The Shadow because he was surrounded by madmen.

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