The Shadow – Film Review #johnlone

Starring: Alec Baldwin, John Lone, Penelope Ann Miller, Sir Ian McKellen, Tim Curry
Written by David Keopp
IMDb ranking & story line: 6/10

In 1930s New York City, the Shadow battles his nemesis, Shiwan Khan, who is building an atomic bomb.

If only there was a film with my favourite actors, wait! There is? Yes! This is it… The Shadow.   What a pleasure to watch this awesome fantasy adventure as John stars alongside (in my opinion) the best British actors Tim Curry and Sir Ian McKellen.

Tim Curry is so incredibly talented, his Pennywise the Clown in the TV mini-series It goes down as one of the most terrifying characters I have ever seen.  The recent Pennywise in It (2017) was damn good – but not to this level (may be I am biased!). I am also a big fan of Clue too – its a film I can watch time and time again and see something new each time – I love the fact that on the DVD there are multiple endings that you can choose. Nice touch.

Sir Ian McKellen has to be one the best TV and stage actors of our generation, he is one of the few actors I simply MUST see on stage and hope I get that opportunity (King Lear, West End anyone?).  A few weeks ago I watched his appearance on Who Do You Think You Are (still available on BBC iPlayer for any Brits reading). It was so touching to see the wonderment in his face as his past is slowly revealed, he seems a genuinely decent person as well as a great actor.

I’ve caught myself rambling again… now back to The Shadow!  I found myself quite envious watching it, I would LOVE to write something as EPIC as this movie.  The movie flowed so well, I understand now on the DVD extra’s as John describes it as an ‘opera’.

From the outset it was so well executed, the effects were ace (I need that knife with the moving head – reminded me of Medusa) – plus the beautiful 1930’s NYC setting caught my eye.  I wanted to step into it, just to experience that ‘Old Hollywood’ glamour, plus the way the streets were mostly damp with rainfall and picked up in the streetlight was stunning.

Alec Baldwin makes an impressive Shadow (Cranston) – randomly I couldn’t help thinking how much he looked like his brother, William Baldwin, when he took on the appearance of the Shadow.  At one point I checked IMDb to ensure he wasn’t on the casting list.

I particularly liked the opening scene in Tibet where he appears from the shadows as a warlord.  He is offered redemption after he is kidnapped and trained in some mystical mind control techniques.  Seven years later we are taken to 1930’s New York City where he is now Cranston a millionaire playboy, who is saving the city from the crooks.

He dines with his uncle, Police Captain Barth at the fabulous Cobalt Club (everyone should dine like that daily) – showing us these impressive mind-control skills as in steps the blonde bombshell, Margo Lane, (Penelope Ann Miller). She is as telepathic as he is – which leads to an interesting magnetism between the two throughout the story.  “She’s strange, she hears voices” his uncle warns.. I liked this lead in to her mental skills too – this love interest was a challenge and she looked so effortlessly beautiful.  The scene where she wakes on the bed, couldn’t be more alike myself in the morning.

Reinhardt Lane (Ian McKellen) plays her father and scientist working for the government, his traitor assistant, Farley Claymore (Tim Curry) is introduced too – and you can see they are working on something pretty explosive.

John as the bad guy, Shiwan Khan, is such fun to watch – he emerges from a silver coffin with sinister black eyes and shows us too that he is a master at mind control.  He manages to have a petrifying look of anger/rage about him at all times (I can only imagine reading this blog or the first draft of my script could only bring a similar reaction).  His encounters with Cranston were enjoyable and the best line delivered between these two characters – “You are a barbarian” – “Thank you” (David, if you’re reading this, you were right, this IS the best line!), is hilarious.  It looks like the cast truly enjoyed making this movie. Another thing I liked about Khan was the fact he got about town in cabs too… it was so funny. At the moment I thought how bizarre his outfit looks the line “Nice dress Toots” was delivered – the tongue in cheek feel at times was really well placed.

There some great visuals, the Shadow emerging out of the shadow on the wall, the dream sequences including Cranston ripping his face off. the mail being delivered down the pipe, the ring of fire around Margo – too many to list here.

As the story unfolds we see Khan has hypnotised the entire city and is mentally controlling both elder Lane and Claymore.  The younger Lane and her father attempt to stop the ticking of the atomic bomb that he has contrived under this manipulation.

I thought the end scene would be the final showdown with Khan and Cranston, but was pleasantly surprised and really enjoyed Khans final scene!

You can see how this film influenced the look and feel of Batman, its simply brilliant.

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