Monday, May 18, 2020

Hard Times Parties

In The Shadow radio episode "Makeup for Murder" (originally aired on December 1, 1946) the show opens with Lamont and Margo having won 1st place for their costumes and makeup for a Hard Times party they hosted at a vacant saloon.

I had never heard of a Hard Times party, so I decided that I would investigate!  Here's what I have learned and conjectured based on my research.  Hard Times parties were held in the 1930s and 1940s.  They were a themed costume party where attendees would dress like they had fallen on hard times.  They would wear shabby and worn down clothes and shoes to show they had no money and no job.  Now, I'm going to guess that only the wealthy and maybe the middle class would hold such parties.

The real only clew I had to research was the reference to a Hard Times party in the radio show.  I've spent hours researching and was only able to find a few references.  Here they are:

  • The Ann Arbor District Library published a photo from October 1938 and listed it as a Hard Times Party.  You can see the photo here.
  • The Washington County Insider posted a photo of a "‘hard-times party’ from the 1940s. A group from Amity was celebrating at the West Park Ballroom."  You can see the photo here.

It's interesting that Lamont and Margo hold a Hard Times party in 1946.  To me, it would make more sense to hold a party like that in the 1930s during the Great Depression.  But in 1946 the US was coming out of World War 2 and the Great Depression, so there could still be some fun to be had in holding a Hard Time party.

I'll keep looking for more info on this subject, but I hope it helps add some interesting behind the scenes information on this particular episode of The Shadow radio!!

Monday, September 9, 2019

Knight of Darkness Audio Collection

For the past few days I've been listening to this CD collection of The Shadow on my daily commute.  It's a nice compilation of stories on 9 discs.  The audio has been digitally remastered and the quality is very good.  

Here is a description of the collection from the back of the case:  Radio Spirits is very pleased to present radio's greatest crime fighter, The Shadow, in this new collection of eighteen digitally restored and remastered episodes selected from the classic series.  Featuring Orson Welles, William Johnstone and Bret Morrison each in the title role, this set also includes the first release of two newly discovered and previously lost episodes starring Orson Welles as Lamont Cranston and The Shadow - "The Old People" and "The Trumpet of Death."

Also included is a small booklet by radio historian Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. that includes notes on the episodes.

Some of my favorite episodes from this collection are "The Return of Carnation Charlie," "Terror at Wolf's Head Knoll," and "Death to The Shadow."  There are a few episodes that I didn't care for much such as "Terrible Legend of Crownshield Castle."

The booklet contains some good information and I like the fact that two previously lost episodes have been found, restored and included in this collection.  I recommend you add this to your Shadow collection!!

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

The Shadow - International Locations

The Shadow not only fights crime in New York, he has also been called upon to fight crime around the world!  In this post I will catalog the international locations of The Shadow's radio adventures.  I will update it as I listen and learn of new ones.

Argentina (The Old People - June 26, 1938)

Egypt (The Hospital Murders - August 14, 1938)

Panama (The Mine Hunters - August 7, 1938)

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Blood Money

"Blood Money" aired on The Shadow radio on October 20, 1946.  It was the 6th episode of the 10th season and starred Bret Morrison as Lamont Cranston/The Shadow and Grace Matthews as the lovely Margo Lane.  Here's a brief synopsis and notes on this episode.

In "Blood Money", The Shadow must put an end to a murderous counterfeiting gang.  The gang is lead by Bones and his two henchmen Rego and Buster.  Buster is also the gang's hitman who uses a sawed off shotgun as his weapon of choice.  Buster calls his shotgun by the name Baby throughout the episode, and I found this a little weird and creepy.

Lamont and Margo begin investigating the counterfeit gang when one of Lamont's friends, an engraver named D'Arcy goes missing.  Putting together the fact that Commissioner Weston is pursuing a counterfeit gang, Lamont deduces D'Arcy has been kidnapped by the gang and forced to work for them.  Cranston's deduction proves true when D'Arcy's body is found in the river after Buster killed him.

Lamont discovers the counterfeit money is being passed at a local gambling joint, that's where he encounters Rego and Buster.  The gang members don't like Lamont and Margo asking questions, so they set a trap for them at Margo's apartment.  One of Buster's shotguns is set up so when they walk in the door it will blast them, thus ending their curiosity!  Fortunately, the wiring slips and the shotgun blasts the wall next to Lamont!

As The Shadow, Lamont makes a visit to Rego who reluctantly spills the beans on the counterfeiting ring.  Bones learns about this and he and Buster pick up Rego pretending to take him to a safe house where he can lay low until the heat is off.  But this is a trap and Buster uses Baby to end Rego's life.

The Shadow then confronts Bones in his secret office in the casino as Buster has just left to make sure a gambling wheel they used isn't left behind.  When Buster comes back in the office, Bones thinks it's The Shadow trying to leave and cuts loose with a shotgun, killing Buster.  The Shadow knocks it out of his hand and let's him know the police are already on their way - and that Commissioner Weston will be glad to meet him!

While this episode was entertaining, it was not as good as other Shadow episodes.  I would give it 3 out of 5 stars.  For me, Bret Morrison seems to be a bit off as The Shadow and doesn't come across as authoritative and strong as in other episodes. 

This episode was sponsored by Carey's Salt.  It was interesting to hear some listener's ideas for unique ways to use Carey's Salt.  One listener said they use Carey's Salt and kerosene to clean galvanized utensils!  Listeners that had their ideas selected as unique and interesting were given the prize of a $100 wrist watch.

Lamont Cranston/The Shadow:  Bret Morrison
Margo Lane:  Grace Matthews
Announcer:  Don Hancock

Rating (out of 5 stars): ⭐⭐⭐

Sponsor:  Carey's Salt

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Lamont Cranston Trivia #3

In The Shadow radio episode "Can the Dead Talk?" (originally aired March 19, 1939) we learn Lamont Cranston's valet's name is Ames.  

Keep in mind that valets and butlers perform differing duties where a valet's primary concern would be with clothing and toiletries and the butler's duties would involve supervising the household staff.  

I bring this up because in season 3, Lamont's butler is named Allan.  If we make the distinction between valet and butler, then Ames could be performing duties as valet while Allan performed duties as butler.  Or, it could mean Ames was butler and was replaced by Allan in season 3! 

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Fans of The Shadow Radio Show?

I found this picture of my uncle and great uncle a few weeks ago.  While I don't know what date it was taken, I know that it was sometime in 1939 or 1940 in Vermont.  (I did some research on the vehicle in the background and it's a 1939 Buick.)  The reason I wanted to share it is it gives you a look at two young boys who were probably fans of The Shadow radio show.  It shows what young, rural boys wore and it's almost like a time capsule back to the days when The Shadow aired on the radio in the late 1930s and into the '40s and '50s.  I like the look of the car and the gentleman standing in the background - surely they must have been fans of The Shadow radio show!

Saturday, January 5, 2019

The Leopard Strikes!

Here's a brief synopsis and notes on The Shadow radio episode, "The Leopard Strikes!" that originally aired on January 5, 1941.

The story opens with two policeman walking their beat around the city zoo.  One is a seasoned veteran, the other a rookie wanting some action.  They talk briefly and shortly after, the rookie cop is attacked and killed by what appears to be a wild animal.

Commissioner Weston requests Lamont Cranston's assistance in the case due to Cranston's knowledge of big game animals.  Before long, The Shadow is on the case and talks with the two men responsible for the care of the large cats.  Based on the wounds of the killed cop, it appears he was attacked by a leopard!  Mr. Harper and Mr. Oliver, the two zookeepers in charge of the big cats, are questioned but they say none of the cats had escaped.  Something doesn't seem right, so Lamont plans to visit the two men.

The Shadow pays a visit to Harper and Oliver but does not get any leads in the case.  However, he does note the obvious tension between the two zookeepers.  The Shadow warns them that he will be back if more attacks occur!

Unfortunately, more attacks do happen so Lamont and Margo begin to spend their nights walking the park in hopes of finding a clue or the killer.  There is another attack on a poor park bum and Lamont and Margo rush to the scene.  A policeman is there and he states he witnessed the attack and shot the leopard.  Margo makes a statement about smelling salts and that triggers Lamont's thinking!  The thing that was missing on all the leopard's victims, was the distinct smell of a leopard!  Based on Cranston's experience in Africa, when a leopard attacks a victim, it leaves a distinct smell on the body and that's what has been missing in each of these attacks.

As they enter the zoo where the leopards are kept, they find the leopard named Ribu has in fact been killed!  Commissioner Weston believes the cat had been shot by the policeman, but upon further inspection, the leopard had been killed by a knife.  The killer cat was still on the loose!  The Shadow springs into action and revisits the zookeepers.  Only Mr. Oliver is present and he begins to share some helpful information with The Shadow - information that is incriminating fellow zookeeper Harper!  Before Oliver can fully let the cat out of the bag (see what I did there?!), he is shot.  However, he has provided The Shadow with information that Harper is involved in a leopard cult and gives him information on the neighborhood where the cult meets.

The Shadow, Margo and Shrevvy take off and begin searching the area Oliver had told them about.  Margo happens to see a woman being taken into a building by two men and it appears suspicious.  The Shadow enters the building and finds the leopard cult is meeting!  While the leopard cult never intends to harm anyone, one member, zookeeper Harper, intends to kill the woman as a sacrifice and offering to the leopard.  The Shadow confronts Harper.  Harper is dressed as a leopard - complete with razor sharp claws and he strikes at The Shadow.  The Shadow shoots Harper and kills him, thus ending his murderous rampage.

Here are a few side notes about this episode.  This is one of the rare episodes where Lamont Cranston/The Shadow carries a gun and uses it to kill the villain.  Also, in the episode, Margo jokingly calls Lamont "Hawkshaw."  Hawkshaw is slang for detective and there was a popular comic strip entitled Hawkshaw the Detective that ran from 1913 to 1922, and again from 1931 to 1952.  The villain, Harper, was played by Frank Readick who was the voice of The Shadow introducing the stories on the Detective Story Hour!

The Leopard Strikes also made it into print in Shadow Comics #11 which published on April 25, 1941.

Lamont Cranston/The Shadow:  William Johnstone
Margo Lane:  Marjorie Anderson
Commissioner Weston:  Kenny Delmar
Shrevie:  Everett Sloane
Harper:  Frank Readick