No one ever saw the Shadow, the radio Mystery Man
who first lurked on the scene some 60 years ago, except in their imagination. Now, his alternately sinister and heroic form is fleshed out in high-deco style with Universal's ''The Shadow.'' Stylishly directed by Russell Mulcahy
, this witty entertainment will appeal to sci-fi and thriller buffs, but the marketing challenge will be to ''uncloud the vision'' of younger viewers.
''The Shadow'' begins at the pinnacle of hocus-pocus: in Tibet, as evil warlord Ying Ko (Alec Baldwin
) is taken captive by a mystic who orders him to ''be redeemed.'' Ying Ko is transformed into Lamont Cranston, a dapper gent, and sent to New York to battle crime and evil. Fortunately for Cranston, the mystic has taught him secret powers of the mind and cloaked him in a new guise -- the Shadow. A dapper man-about-town during the day, Cranston transforms into an ethereal, brim-hatted crime fighter at night.
Even by Big Apple standards, Cranston/the Shadow confronts a lot of rot, not helped any by the supernatural arrival of the last of Genghis Khan's bloodline, Shiwan Khan (John Lone
), who senses through the darker side of Cranston/the Shadow a kindred spirit, a potential partner in the conquest and destruction of New York.
Plotwise, ''The Shadow'' is a big spinner, involving development of the atomic bomb and all sorts of municipal madness all squared into another dimension. At times, it spins out of orbit, but it's generally engaging and nicely diced by screenwriter David Koepp
's light-handed wit. In general, this ''Shadow'' is more to look at than to listen to. Its chief virtues are on the surface: Joseph Nemec III's ornate art-deco production design as well as the film's wide-ranging special effects are ''The Shadow' '' best features. Director Mulcahy's fast-moving dynamic, aided by cinematographer Stephen H. Burum's rhythmic shots, editor Peter Honess
' zesty punctuation and composer Jerry Goldsmith
's titanic score, brings necessary bulk to ''The Shadow' '' surface dimension.
As the Shadow, Baldwin is an apt blend of the suave and the sinister, while Lone is outstanding as the megalomaniac force of evil. The supporting players are bright spots, most notably Jonathan Winters as a crotchety police commissioner, Tim Curry as an obsequious turncoat and Peter Boyle as a roisterous cabbie.
A Bregman/Baer Prod.
A Film by Russell Mulcahy
Producers Martin Bregman
, Willi Baer, Michael S. Bregman
Director Russell Mulcahy
Screenwriter David Koepp
Based on Advance Magazine Publisher's character ''The Shadow''
Executive producers Louis A. Stroller, Rolf Deyhle
Director of photography Stephen H. Burum
Production designer Joseph Nemec III
Editor Peter Honess
Co-executive producer Stan Weston
Music supervisor Jellybean Benitez
Music Jerry Goldsmith
Costume designer Bob Ringwood
Casting Mary Colquhoun
Sound mixer Keith Wester
Lamont Cranston/the Shadow Alec Baldwin
Shiwan Kahn John Lone
Margo LanePenelope Ann Miller
Moe Shrevnitz Peter Boyle
Reinhardt Lane Ian McKellen
Farley Claymore Tim Curry
Barth Jonathan Winters
Dr. Tam Sab Shimono
Running time -- 112 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG-13
(c) The Hollywood Reporter