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