|Cyril Delevanti as the butler Adams threatened by the Shadow's shadow|
By 1946 pulp stories had been pretty much replaced by comic book heroes, but somebody at Monogram studios apparently figured there was still life in the character, and hired Kane Richmond of Spy Smasher serial fame to play Lamont Cranston in what would be the first of three features. While nowhere nears as dynamic a figure as the Shadow of the serial with Victor Jory, at least the Monogram series actually put Cranston in a costume and made him more than an amateur criminologist. By and large The Shadow Returns, while no world-beater, was an improvement over the two Shadow films with a completely miscast Rod La Rocque.
|Kane Richmond as the Shadow|
The Shadow Returns has our hero, along with Margo Lane (Barbara Read of Three Smart Girls) and comedy relief driver Shrevvie (Tom Dugan), having an adventure that mostly takes place in the mansion of gem dealer Michael Hasdon (Frank Reicher of Son of Kong), who apparently commits suicide. There are other murders as Cranston and his pals investigate from one end, while dyspeptic Inspector Cardona (Joseph Crehan) and Commissioner Weston (Pierre Watkin) -- who in this is Cranston's uncle -- investigate from another, and it's no secret who will come up with the solution first. There's a formula for plastic that's worth millions, and a series of men falling off of balconies to their deaths. There are a number of colorless suspects, but there isn't much fun in finding out who the killer is.
|Kane Richmond and Barbara Read|
Like the La Rocque movies, there's way too much supposedly comical banter and the whole approach is lightweight and mediocre. Instead of a cape, the Shadow wears a long coat with a belt. Richmond is okay as the flippant hero but he lacks distinction, which is also true of the comparatively plain Barbara Read as Margo. The inevitable Pierre Watkin is as mediocre as ever as the commissioner. Followed by Behind the Mask.
Verdict: The Shadow Lite. **.