|Victor Jory as the Shadow|
Pulp magazines were called such because of the cheap paper they were printed on, and these digest-sized publications featured such heroes as The Shadow, Doc Savage, The Spider, The Black Bat, and several others in snappy, fast-paced, and often violent novels. Many of these characters influenced the comic book super-heroes who came later, such as Batman and Superman (for whom Doc Savage was a major influence). The Shadow and the Spider were take-no-prisoners vigilantes, with the Spider, in particular, always leaving behind a very high body count of bad guys with no benefit of trial or council -- still, they were generally trying to kill him at the time, and he ultimately saved many more lives than he took.
The three pulp heroes covered this week on Great Old Movies -- Shadow, Spider, and Doc Savage -- have endured far beyond the life of the pulp magazines whose adventures they graced. Over the decades since the thirties there have been radio shows, TV shows, cliffhanger serials, comic books, and theatrical movies devoted to the characters, and the original pulp novels have all been reprinted in paperback -- from such major publishers as Bantam Books and various smaller presses -- innumerable times. You can still thrill to the adventures of Doc Savage and his band of scientific and heroic assistants; the Spider with his blazing guns and truly fiendish antagonists; and the Shadow, who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men and does his best to stamp it out. Generally the film versions of these stories can't compare to the original books, but some manage to come close.
NOTE: Shadow movies that have already been reviewed on this blog include The Shadow Strikes and The Invisible Avenger.