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

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