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The Shadow

Theatrical poster
Directed by Russell Mulcahy
Produced by Willi Bär
Martin Bregman
Michael Scott Bregman
Written by David Koepp
Starring Alec Baldwin
John Lone
Penelope Ann Miller
Ian McKellen
Jonathan Winters
and Tim Curry
Music by Jerry Goldsmith
Cinematography Stephen H. Burum
Editing by Peter Honess
Beth Jochem Besterveld
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release date(s) July 1, 1994
Running time 108 min.
Country United States
Language English
Budget $40 million (estimated)
Gross revenue $48,063,435 (Worldwide)

The Shadow is a 1994 American action film, directed by Russell Mulcahy, and based on the character of the same name created by Walter B. Gibson in 1931. Alec Baldwin starred in the title role. The film is one of many featuring The Shadow, but it is the most expensive of those productions, with an estimated $40 million budget.

Contents

Plot

Lamont Cranston (Alec Baldwin) is a former American soldier, and a veteran of World War I. Tired of being a servant to greater powers, Cranston disappears following the armistice and hides himself away in Tibet, eventually rising to power as an iron-fisted opium producer and warlord named Ying Ko. Living his life in opulence, Ying Ko sees little reason for reform, controlling the majority of the country's opium fields and casually using brutal violence to achieve and maintain his power. One night he is kidnapped from his chambers by unknown assailants, who spirit him away from his estate and bring him before the Tulku. The Tulku, who is clearly much more than a simple holy man, confronts Ying Ko and reveals to him that he knows his true identity as Lamont Cranston. He tells Cranston that he had him brought to the temple so that he could learn to overcome the darkness in his heart in order to become a force for good; he chose Cranston because "you know what evil lurks in the hearts of men" because of the evil Cranston committed. Cranston's objections are quickly silenced by a run-in with the Phurba, a living knife whose murderous intentions are kept in check by the Tulku's mental abilities, and so begins Cranston's reluctant tutelage under the powerful mystic. For seven years, Cranston is taught to cloud men's minds, which permits him to control or alter people's perceptions and thoughts by force of concentration. His most apparent use of this power allows him to become invisible, removing himself from people's vision in every part except for his shadow, the only thing he can never hide.

With his newfound abilities, Cranston returns to the United States, where he resumes the life he had before the war as an opulent playboy. His alter ego, The Shadow, terrorizes the criminal element of the city and is regarded by the public as an urban legend. He utilizes a vast network of spies and agents, identified by their fire opal rings, recruited from the various citizens he saves which affords him a large talent pool to draw from should he require their expertise or knowledge. Some of the agents he recruited are: his own personal taxi cab driver Moe Shrevnitz (Peter Boyle) and NYU science professor Dr. Roy Tam (Sab Shimono) .His activities go as planned until Shiwan Khan (John Lone), the last living descendant of Genghis Khan, enters the country with his infamous ancestor's holy crypt, arriving inside the Natural History museum. Khan, a fellow student of the Tulku, exhibits psychic powers even more focused than Cranston's. But he remained evil and an Asiatic supremacist, and was not brought over to the side of good before he left the Tulku. Able to hypnotize others into doing his bidding, Khan is able to mull along secretly until he decides to reveal himself to The Shadow. Khan, an admirer of Cranston's previous atrocities as Ying Ko, wishes to let Cranston in on his forthcoming plans to complete Genghis Khan's global domination and once again allow his darker nature to rule him. The Shadow is tempted but rejects Khan's offer. While out to dinner with his uncle, Chief of Police Wainwright Barth (Jonathan Winters), Cranston meets and is immediately intrigued by Margo Lane (Penelope Ann Miller), a wealthy socialite, who seems to have suppressed mental abilities. He cannot allow himself to interact with her, however, because she has the ability to read his thoughts without apparent effort and is immune to his hypnosis. Her father Reinhardt Lane (Ian McKellen), a scientist working for the war department, ends up missing as his implosion device is key to Khan's plan. When she goes to find him she is mesmerized by Khan's stronger power, and is sent, apparently to kill The Shadow in his mansion but in reality to be killed by him. When Cranston confronts her and releases her from Khan's control, she realizes that he is in fact The Shadow. In their next encounter, Khan tells Cranston that he sent Margo not to kill him but to be killed by him, so that his instincts would reawaken and Cranston would go back to his corrupt persona.

With Reinhardt's implosion device in hand, Khan acquires the final piece of his plan: a beryllium sphere from Farley Claymore (Tim Curry), Reinhardt's unscrupulous assistant. Claymore actually joined Khan by his own free will in exchange for power in the new world order, and with the two devices Khan has the ability to create an atomic weapon (a decade before the Manhattan Project). The Shadow infiltrates Khan's headquarters, a massive hotel that he actually kept invisible to the entire population of New York, just as the atomic bomb is given two hours to detonate. He kills Farley Claymore and makes his way to Khan, but when he engages him Khan's control over his powers proves to be sharper. Using the Phurba (Frank Welker), Khan cuts away at The Shadow until he begins to lose his concentration and reverts to Lamont Cranston. Unable to keep his powers from fading. Cranston struggles with the Phurba amidst Khan's condescensions until he is forced to regain control, overpowering the Phurba and sending it into Khan's torso.

With his concentration broken, Khan's hypnotic control over his building and underlings fails, revealing the once-invisible hotel to the surprised New York populace. Reinhardt Lane, now free, helps his daughter disarm the atomic weapon while The Shadow pursues Khan. The Shadow chases him into the subsections of the building where, among a maze of mirrors, he uses his psychic powers to tear apart the glass and send a large shard into Khan's forehead. When Khan awakes he finds himself in a mental hospital, stripped of his abilities due to a life-saving lobotomy that apparently removed the usually-dormant part of the brain that granted him his hypnotic skills. When the attending doctor explains the situation to a frustrated and bewildered Khan, the fire opal ring on his finger reveals him to be an agent of The Shadow.

At the film's end, Margo and Lamont are embracing and kissing when Lamont has to leave suddenly. Margo asks Lamont if he'll know where to find her, he simply responds, "I'll know."

Cast

Production

Producer Martin Bregman bought the rights to The Shadow in 1982. Screenwriter David Koepp had listened to The Shadow radio show as a child when CBS radio re-ran it on Sunday nights. He was hired in 1990 to write a new draft and was able to find the right tone that the studio liked.[1] Bregman remembers, “Some of them were light, some of them were darker, and others were supposedly funnier – which they weren’t. It just didn’t work”.[2] Koepp's script relied predominantly on the pulp novels while taking the overall tone from the radio show with the actual plot originated by Koepp himself in consultation with Bregman. In an attempt to differentiate the film from other superhero movies of the time, Koepp focused on “the copy line, ‘Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?’ and wondered how he knew what evil lurks in the hearts of men. And I decided that perhaps it was because he was uncomfortably familiar with the evil in his own heart”.[1] For Koepp, the film then became “a story of guilt and atonement”.[1] He picked Shiwan Khan as the film’s villain because “he was bold and he knew what he was doing – he wanted to conquer the world. That was very simple, maybe a little ambitious, but he knew exactly what he wanted.”[2] He had always been a fan of Alec Baldwin and wrote the script with him in mind: "He has the eyes and the voice; he had so much of what I pictured Cranston being".[1] Koepp also sat in on rehearsals and incorporated a lot of the actor’s humor into the script.[1]

While making Razorback in 1984, director Russell Mulcahy heard that Bregman had the rights to The Shadow, but didn’t seriously pursue it when he heard that Robert Zemeckis might direct. While working on a film called Blue Ice for Bregman, he found out that no director was attached to The Shadow film. He asked the producer about it and Bregman agreed to have him direct.[citation needed] While working on the Bregman-produced The Real McCoy, the film’s star, Kim Basinger, recommended her then-husband, Baldwin, to star in The Shadow.[citation needed] According to Bregman, very few actors were considered for the role. Over the years, both Roy Scheider and Jeremy Irons were suggested.[citation needed] The film was shot on the Universal backlot in Hollywood on five soundstages over 60 days with a five day mini-unit tour of location shooting and a week lost when an earthquake destroyed the Hall of Mirrors set. Mulcahy said, “There are a lot of FX in this film, but it’s not an FX film. It’s a character/story-driven film. The FX are part of the story.”[3] According to visual effects supervisor Alison Savitch, the film originally was intended not to be an effects movie.[citation needed] They planned to have only 50 to 70 shots. But by the time the film was completed, they had 230 effects shots. This included creating 1930s New York City through miniatures and matte paintings.[citation needed]

While making the film, Mulcahy mentioned that a sequel might feature the Voodoo Master as the villain.[citation needed]

Reception

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Critical reaction

The film was meant to be a summer blockbuster and the starting point for a new movie franchise with toy and clothing lines. However, critics and fans panned the movie, and it flopped. The planned franchise never materialized, although some toys were offered during its release period. Despite this failure, however, it retained a cult following in subsequent years.

The film received a 31% on Rotten Tomatoes, with the consensus as "Visually impressive, but ultimately forgettable." The more detailed summary described the film as having "impressive" visuals and a story that does not "strike a memorable chord."[4]

Entertainment Weekly placed the film on its "21 Worst Comic-Book Movies Ever" list.[5]

Box office

The film grossed $32 million domestically, with a worldwide total of $48 million.[6] The budget was $40 million.

Other media

Video game

A Shadow video game was developed to tie in with the 1994 movie, but was never released.

Pinball game

Midway (under the Bally label) released a Shadow themed pinball machine in 1994. Brian Eddy (Attack From Mars, Medieval Madness) designed the game. It was his first pinball game design, and it was moderately successful. Dan Forden composed original music for the game.

Novelization

James Luceno wrote the novelization.

Soundtrack

The Arista Records label released a soundtrack album in 1994. The soundtrack featured selections from Jerry Goldsmith's score and other songs from the film.

Track listing
  1. The Shadow Knows... 1994 (Dialogue, performed by Alec Baldwin) [:08]
  2. Original Sin (Theme from The Shadow) (Written by Jim Steinman, performed by Taylor Dayne) [6:27]
  3. The Poppy Fields (Main Title) [3:16]
  4. Some Kind of Mystery (Written by Diane Warren, performed by Sinoa) [3:48]
  5. The Sanctum [3:33]
  6. Who Are You? [4:02]
  7. Chest Pains [3:26]
  8. The Knife [3:05]
  9. The Hotel [5:53]
  10. The Tank [4:08]
  11. Frontal Lobotomy [2:28]
  12. Original Sin (Theme from The Shadow) Film Mix (Written by Jim Steinman, performed by Taylor Dayne) [5:02]
  13. The Shadow Radio Show 1937: Who Knows What Evil Lurks in the Hearts of Men? (Dialogue, performed by Orson Welles) [:29]

References

  1. ^ a b c d e Schwager, Jeff (August 13, 1994). "Out of the Shadows". Moviemaker. http://www.moviemaker.com/magazine/editorial.php?id=213. Retrieved 2007-04-16. 
  2. ^ a b Peterson, Don E (August 1994). "The Shadow Takes Shape". Sci-Fi Entertainment. 
  3. ^ Murray, Will (August 1994). "Master of Death". Starlog. http://www.shadowsanctum.net/collector/collector_images/Starlog_pg1.jpg. Retrieved 2007-04-16. 
  4. ^ "The Shadow (1994)." Rotten Tomatoes.
  5. ^ "20 Worst Comic-Book Movies Ever The Shadow, Alec Baldwin." Entertainment Weekly.
  6. ^ "The Shadow at Box Office Mojo". http://boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=shadow.htm. 

External links


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