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The Whispering Shadow

USA 1933
produced by
Nat Levine for Mascot
directed by Colbert Clark, Albert Herman
starring Bela Lugosi, Viva Tattersall, Malcolm McGregor, Henry B. Walthall, Robert Warwick, Roy D'Arcy, Karl Dane, Lloyd Whitlock, Bob Kortman, Lafe McKee, Norman Feusier, William Desmond, Ethel Clayton, George J.Lewis, Gordon De Main, Jack Perrin, Lionel Backus, Robert Frazer, Tom Holland
written by Wyndham Gittens, Barney Sarecky, Norman S. Hall, George Morgan, Colbert Clark, music by Lee Zahler

serial

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Several trucks of the Empire Transport and Storage Company are robbed and their drivers killed, and behind it all is a mysterious being called The Whispering Shadow, a scientific genius who has dedicated his knowledge to evil, who hides his identity from everyone including his own gang, who controls his men via television and who kills using a radio controlled death ray ... and he seems to use the radio transmitter on the roof of the Empire company.

When Bud Foster (George J.Lewis) is killed in one of the Whispering Shadow's raids, it gets personal for the company's traffic controller Jack (Malcolm McGregor), and soon he, together with the scientific detective Raymond (Robert Warwick), takes up investigations.

It turns out that exclusively those trucks delivering shipments to Professor Strang's (Bela Lugosi) wax museum House of Mystery are raided, and Strang himself might be the Shadow, first of all he is a scientific genius, and secondly he has a television set and radio machinery. Before long everyone is convinced that he is the Shadow, everyone but his own daughter, pretty Vera (Viva Tattersall), who somehow has caught the eye of Jack.

Learning that trucks of the Empire Company are attacked, Slade, an imprisoned jewel thief (Bob Kortman), makes a jailbreak, and starts snooping around in the company's warehouse himself. Why is soon found out: He himself has stolen the Jewels of the Czar but hidden them in the warehouse before his arrest ... and now he wants the jewels back before they fall into the wrong (= not his) hands.

Soon everyone seems to be after the jewels (and everyone is more or less under suspicion of being the Whispering Shadow): company president Bradley (Henry B.Walthall) - who is just too greedy to let go of the valuable jewels, even if they don't belong to him -, vice president Jerome (Lafe McKee) - who will turn out to be a Baltic Prince -, the company's radio operator Steinbeck (Roy D'Arcy) - who will turn out to be an international spy -, and a Russian Countess (Ethel Clayton), to name just a few.

However, after many chases by foot and car, many fistfights and shoot-outs, The Whispering Shadow turns out to be someone completely else, Sparks (Karl Dane), the lame-brained company factotum who has spent most of his screentime as the funny character, trying to solve some kind of puzzle - that on closer inspection turns out to be part of his elaborte radio machinery.

Strang on the other hand turns out to be a diplomat of the Baltic Federation trying to get back the jewels, so nothing more stands in the way of a romance between his daughter and Jack Foster.

 


A typical Mascot serial: basically a murder mystery that doesn't score high on logic, with the culprit in the end pulled out of the hat rather than revealed by clever deduction. But what the serial lacks in logic it more than delivers in fast-paced action, with the next chase, fistfight or shoot-out always being just minutes away, and the on-screen goings-on filled with pulp elements like the hooded villain, death rays, a gang controlled by television (which was science fiction for its time), and of course secret panels and hidden rooms aplenty.

Though Mascot did produce better serials, this one - Bela Lugosi's first ever serial - is fun throughout.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
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love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.

 

Tales to Chill
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a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
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you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
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starring
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out now on DVD