Lamont Cranston (Kane Richmond) is the nephew of Police Commissioner J. R. Weston (Pierre Watkins). Margo Lane (Barbara Read) is his secretary and fiancé. They are getting ready to go out for the evening when a call comes in telling him that officials are opening a grave. Inside they find jewels. The Commissioner also receives a call about the exhumation. Thinking that that customs department may need to be involved Police Inspector Cardona (Joseph Creham) and the Commissioner go to the Hasdon estate to check it out.
At the Hasdon residence they find several people including the owner of the gems Michael Hasdon (Frank Reicher). The group says they are there to buy the gems taken from the grave. Hasdon claims he is being swindled and leaves the room. Knowing something is up Cranston rushes out to his car where his driver Shrevvie (Tom Dugan) has stashed away the outfit Cranston uses when he adopts his alter ego, The Shadow.
Now dressed as The Shadow, Cranston returns to the house. He confronts the Commissioner and the Inspector. He tells them Hasdon knows what is going on and tells them to question him. Hasdon is standing at the edge of a balcony. When he is told to come forward he appears to jump from the balcony to the cement patio below. Hasdon dies immediately from a broken neck.
Cranston is not convinced that Hasdon killed himself. The mystery deepens when other similar deaths occur. In their investigation Cranston and Margo discover a secret laboratory and a formula that could be worth millions.
“The Shadow Returns” was released in 1946 and was directed by Phil Rosen and reportedly William Beaudine. It is a poverty row comedy/crime film. It is the first of three Shadow movies done by Monogram Studios. All were of the same style and had Kane Richmond and Barbara Read as the stars of the film. The other two films in the series were “The Shadow: Behind the Mask” 1946 and “The Missing Lady” 1946.
The shadow effect that is used is the only part of the film that’s cool looking. The film itself seems to spend more time on the patter between Cranston and Margo and in the comic relief of the driver Shrevvie than it does on the mystery. The movie even starts out with questions that are never answered. Whose grave are they opening? Why are the jewels hidden on a corpse?
As for the one who-done-it, that also is not exactly framed very well. Among the remaining suspects any of them could have been the killer and it seemed a toss-up as to who to pin it on. Someone described the film as more of a how-done-it than a who-done-it as the who part was far too random to bring about any interest. Even Lamont Cranston’s Shadow doesn’t live up to the radio persona. This one has no special powers and only shows up a couple times. More time is spent hiding The Shadows costume from people than in being The Shadow itself.
The only other part I though intriguing is when they discovered what the jewels really were. Other than that the movie was just a series of one liners doled out by the three top stars.
I’m afraid Shadow fans are going to be a little disappointed in this offering.