Lamont Cranston (Rod La Rocque) is discussing his father’s untimely death with his manservant Henry Hendricks (Norman Ainsley). Later, as The Shadow, Cranston goes to the offices of Attorney Chester Randall looking for evidence and interrupts a couple crooks breaking into the attorney’s safe. The Shadow calls the police. Just before they get there he ducks into the attorney’s private office. The police, led by Captain Breen (Kenneth Harlan), nab the crooks and take them away. Breen returns to the office and catches Cranston going through the open safe.
Cranston pretends that he is Attorney Randall. Breen is a little suspicious but goes along. When the phone rings Breen has Cranston answer. On the phone is Caleb Delthern (John St. Polis). Delthern needs to see the attorney right away. Still maintaining his cover Cranston agrees. Breen, still a little suspicious, offers to drive him to the Delthern residence.
Delthern is looking to have a new will drawn up immediately. He lists his heirs as Marcia Delthern (Agnes Anderson), Jasper Delthern (James Blakeley), Winstead Comstock (Walter McGrail) and Humphrey Comstock (William Kellogg). He thinks that his life may be in danger but doesn’t know by whom. While they are discussing the changes he wants made a shot comes through the window and Delthern is killed. Not being able to extract himself before the police get there, Cranston is stuck maintaining his cover as Randall.
From the information Cranston took from Randall’s safe he finds that Randall received a call from a notorious criminal named Barney Brossett (Cy Kendall). Cranston goes to Brossett’s gambling establishment pretending to be an attorney with Randall’s office. After talking to Brossett for awhile Cranston finds Jasper on the gaming floor. It seems Jasper owes Brossett quite a bit of money. Cranston is beginning to think that perhaps Brossett has something to do with the untimely death of Caleb. It seems the mystery of who shot Caleb Delthern deepens. And when another family member is killed Cranston is more embroiled in the mystery.
“The Shadow Strikes” was released in 1937 and was directed by Lynn Shores. It is first film ever made based on The Shadow character from radio and magazine stories. It is a mystery and an early film noirish movie. It is supposedly loosely based on the novella “The Ghost of the Manor” by Maxwell Grant who’s actual name was Walter Gibson. It is a low budget poverty row film by Grand National Pictures.
In the film the Lamont Cranston character is spelled Granston both in the film itself and in the credits. This is one of two movies done by Grand National Pictures to feature both The Shadow and Rod La Rocque as The Shadow.
The Shadow character, however, only appears twice in the film and very briefly. Once towards the beginning and once toward the end. If you are looking for your favorite Shadow character this is not the best example. He doesn’t even have the famous shadow laugh or any special powers. Just about everything that people liked about the character is missing. Even Lamont Cranston is a little wishy washy.
It’s better to look at the movie as an interesting mystery instead of a vehicle for The Shadow. As just a plain murder mystery it is rather satisfying. As The Shadow, not so much.