“How can you see a shadow if there ain’t nobody there?”
The exiled leader of the nation of Santa Cruz, President Pablo Ramirez (Dan Mullin), is living in New Orleans. The country is currently in the hands of a military dictator called Generalissimo Valdez. From his hideout in the United States Ramirez is planning to take back the nation from the vile Valdez and free his people.
A jazz trumpeter named Tony Alcalde (Steve Dano) is loyal to the President. Tony is a friend of Lamont Cranston (Richard Derr). Tony hopes that Cranston will help him. While on the phone with Cranston Tony is murdered by Rocco Martinez (Leo Bruno), a member of Generalissimo’s secret police.
Cranston and his mentor Jogendra (Mark Daniels) rush to New Orleans to investigate what happened to his friend. While in New Orleans Cranston and Jogendra find out what happened to Tony and why he was trying to reach The Shadow. The Shadow is Cranston’s alter ego. The Shadow has special powers. With Jogendra’s help Cranston uses his telepathic abilities, mind control and his powers of invisibility to fight crime.
Generalissimo Valdez broadcasts the execution of Pablo’s twin brother Victor to draw Pablo out of hiding. When Pablo sees the execution he emerges from his hideout to take back his country. Cranston must try to keep Pablo and his daughter Felicia (Jeanne Naher) safe until Pablo’s resistance group back in Santa Cruz can defeat Valdez.
“Invisible Avenger” was released in 1958 and was directed by James Wong Howe, Ben Parker and John Sledge. The movie is basically two episodes of a Republic Pictures Television series that never happened. The episodes were put together as a movie and released. Some additional footage was added and the movie was re-released in 1962 as “Bourbon Street Shadows”.
Not being familiar with the Shadow radio program I went into the movie wide eyed. I wasn’t really impressed. The film itself is in rather bad shape. I’ve seen movies from the thirties that looked cleaner, brighter, and sounded clearer. The story was OK for a television thriller but I have a feeling it wasn’t up to par with fans of the radio show version. As a novelty it was interesting and it looked like what it was, a TV pilot.
The Shadow has been a fan favorite in radio, comics, comic strips, serials and films. There were several older Shadow films: “The Shadow Strikes” 1937, “International Crime” 1938, “The Shadow Returns” 1946 which spawned two sequels “Behind the Mask” 1946 and “The Missing Lady” 1946 and finally “Invisible Avenger” 1958. In 1994 Alec Baldwin played Lamont Cranston in “The Shadow” 1994. There were also a series of six Shadow film shorts done in 1931 and 1932 and in 1940 a fifteen chapter serial called “The Shadow” with Victor Jory.
The radio show aired from September 1937 to December 1954. There were 677 episodes that aired over eighteen seasons. Many of the radio episodes are lost.