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The Shadow Early Short Films; 1930s Creaky Pulp Films
Topic Started: Jan 31 2018, 12:41 PM (501 Views)
AndyFish
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Has anybody else seen these? In the early 1930s they made six short films "starring" The Shadow-- off the top of my head they had titles like BURGLAR IN THE HOUSE, CIRCUS SHOW UP and HOUSE OF MYSTERY. The Shadow appeared usually as the narrator or host of the crime short that followed.

They'd open with a shot of Street & Smith's DETECTIVE STORY MAGAZINE and then impose the title over it-- apparently these were before they had an actual Shadow magazine. I know the character was the host of a similar styled radio show around the same time.

I wish I could say they're really good-- The Shadow is the kind of shrieky voice version rather than the more ominous character from the Columbia Serial. Still, they're interesting little curiosities. I got my set from Sinister but it might be the kind of set you have to call and ask about if he doesn't have it up on the site.
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Bert Greene
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I've never seen any of the shorts, but I've always wanted to. Our pal RR covered the series nicely in his book "Flickering Shadows," further driving up my interest in them. Actually, I'm quite intrigued by the entirety of similar Laemmle-era Universal short-subjects. It seems to be such an uncharted territory, with the potential for all sorts of fascinating, forgotten material, in terms of music, comedy and otherwise. Much of it is probably no longer extant, admittedly. But I'd still love to spend some time sifting through all the titles and cast listings, and figuring out about all those odds-and-ends that Universal released back then.
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mort bakaprevski
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We discussed this series back here starting with post #82:

http://s13.zetaboards.com/In_The_Balcony/topic/6687862/6/
"Nov Shmoz Ka Pop."
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Frank Hale
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A book you might be interested in, Bert, if you can track it down, is "Universal Pictures" by Michael G. Fitzgerald (Arlington House 1977), which pretty much lists all the Universal features, shorts, and cartoons for the period 1930 - 1976.

No analysis: just the basic credits and approximate release dates.

I've never really gotten into it, even though I am a compulsive list-maker, because the chances of seeing the Universal shorts seem approximately zip.

I have a grand total of 3 live-action, sound Universal shorts on DVD: "Boo" [Frankenstein Legacy], "Runt Page" [Shirley Temple Little Darling Collection], and "Going Places with Lowell Thomas" Nr 18 [Woody Woodpecker & Friends Collection].

Let it be said, however, that those three are in excellent condition, so there does seems to be a preservation effort going on, as I think RR has said in the past.
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Bert Greene
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Appreciate the tip, Frank! I never had the Fitzgerald book. I got Hirschhorn's "Universal Story" when it came out, and I suppose I always thought it somehow sufficed as a reference. But it did not include a listing of the short subjects. Apparently there's one Universal short from 1933 coming out on disc soon, as an extra on Criterion's "King of Jazz" release. It's some short spotlighting Walter Winchell, but including some bits with Paul Whiteman and Ruth Etting. I think it might have been shown previously at MoMA recently, under one of their programs. Indeed, these Universal shorts seem to be extremely rare. I've always assumed they never really had any kind of new prints struck for early-tv syndication, like a lot of short-subject material from so many of the other studios.
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The Batman
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Andy, does the set from Sinister Cinema have all six Shadow shorts? According to Morty's post in the other thread, he only received three shorts in the set?

Always be yourself! Unless you can be Batman...then always be Batman!
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AndyFish
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The set is not right in front of me but I thought it had six but to be honest three is enough. I'll head down to the crypt and check it.
Edited by AndyFish, Feb 1 2018, 03:14 PM.
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The Batman
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Make it back from the crypt yet, Andy?

Always be yourself! Unless you can be Batman...then always be Batman!
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AndyFish
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Yes I did-- there are three shorts on the disc. I seem to recall there is a second disc but I'm cutting through the cobwebs of the lower crypt to find that one.
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The Batman
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Thanks, Andy, I appreciate the effort!


Always be yourself! Unless you can be Batman...then always be Batman!
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riddlerider
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Just seeing this thread for the first time....

I was told Universal had all six Shadow shorts, but there was some question as to whether two of them had deteriorated beyond saving. I still don't know the answer.

I could easily have gotten the remaining four shorts, but I only had money for three. (It was hellaciously expensive to get these 35mm prints transferred.) Burglar to the Rescue was a must because it featured the only surviving recording of radio's Shadow, Frank readick, playing the part. I thought the second short, Trapped, was a stiff (like Burglar, it had played at Cinecon), so I opted to get the other two, which nobody had seen. They didn't turn out to be any better than Trapped, but they had interesting casts. And I think House of Mystery has its moments, so I'm not unhappy with my choices.

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