Let's talk about The Shadow (1994)

I remember seeing The Shadow in its original theatrical release. My few memories before rewatching it were that the dad was color-blind, "The sun is shining...but the ice is slippery," and how many times I tried to strike up a conversation with my 2nd grade crush Quinn about his The Shadow lunchbox. Clearly, pop culture has always been my social lubricant.

What I realize now is that 1994's rendition of the wealthy playboy who moonlights as crimefighter with psychic powers is full of old Hollywood fun. Alec Baldwin as Lamont Cranston/The Shadow is the perfect choice for an old 30s radio serial. When he warns, "Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows," I giggle with delight at his gravelly voice. Mostly, it's nice to a film in the vein of Indiana Jones that mostly pulls things off, full of pulpy framing and close-ups, reminiscent of 1930s/40s noir. The film itself starts to fall apart by the end, but there's enough charisma to make the journey worth it.

Let's take a look at some of the best parts of the film.

This backstory is straight up Batman Begins. The Shadow is some sort of opium drug ring leader or something. Whatever, he hides in the shadows.

Observe: when chest hair was allowed to grow freely. Some sort of psychic energies training is also going on.

Old school font, enter the Shadow's changed life.

Fabulous mafia scene. Love the 30s/40s focus and framing.

With that fake nose, the Shadow just looks like another one of the Baldwin brothers.

Art deco!

Hello, handsome! I wish Jack Donaghy went with the slicked back hair.

Enter the sassy Margo Lane (Penelope Ann Miller). She brings in classic Hollywood love interest realness without getting campy.

I like a good eye closeup.

Blah blah blah, Genghis Khan's surviving family, Shiwan Khan (John Lone).

Note: Tim Curry and Ian McKellan were in the same movie at one point in their careers. Both are equally bumbling.

Love the dreamy, fuzzy background fused with the focused background of Margo's dad.

Check out those lapels!

Did I mention Peter Boyle was the Shadow's personal (taxi) driver?

I want to have this kitchen someday.

Fabulous chiaroscuro use. The shadowing obfuscates the Shadow's identity visually as the Shadow himself clouds his identity with his mind.

Lol, the Shadow just made up the name for the atomic bomb!

This makes me think of Mad Men. I also love that the sign is actually blowing smoke.

This is just a pretty shot. Beautiful brainwashing.

The body language in this scene is so graceful and delightful. Also, nice beard, villain guy.


I wish I could show you the choreography the actors and camera took to get here.

Fun shot!

Love a final showdown in mirrors.

Speaking of Indiana Jones, a large atom bomb is chasing them down some stairs!

Even the bomb is art deco. Also, color blind Chekhov's gun shot off with one second to spare.

Love how cheesy this beatdown is.

Haha! Old mental hospitals were inhumane and awful!

Nice end of movie mug.

And of course I have to mention the unfortunate credits song, "Original Sin," performed by Taylor Dayne. It's one part Tina Turner, one part Bonnie Tyler, with a dash of Celine Dion "It's All Coming Back" and Carly Simon's "Let the River Run." I just can't describe how awesome and misfitting this song choice is:

This film is so close to being memorable, in a cult classic sort of way, but it just falls short. However, it's worth a rewatch because it's so much fun.

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