Day 6 – The Whispering Shadow (1933)

Whispering Shadow posterDay 6: The Whispering Shadow (1933)
Cast:      Bela Lugosi as Professor Adam Strang
Malcolm McGregor as Jack Foster
Viva Tattersall as Vera Strang

Story by Barney Sarecky, George Morgan, Norman Hall, Colbert Clark & Wyndham Giddens
Directed by Colbert Clark (The Three Musketeers)  & Albert Herman (The Cisco Kid)

Plot: The mysterious Whispering Shadow is a master criminal who has invented a device that kills by radio. His ultimate goal is to steal the Czar jewels. Just how many are part of the Shadow’s mob and who is the Shadow himself? Could it be Professor Strang, owner of the creepy wax museum? Jack Foster is on the never-ending trail that is full of false leads and murder.

Whispering 1Personal Thoughts: To start with, let me say that my viewing of The Whispering Shadow was not of the chapter serial but of the condensed film version. It highlights only part of the serial and, therefore, it’s hard to judge the complete story when I only watched about 75 minutes of the story. That said, I did enjoy what I saw, especially the scenes in the creepy wax museum. As with most chapter serials, it suffers from a low budget.  Condensing it down does eliminate a lot of the repetition that sometimes happens with story recaps and cliffhangers. Lugosi turns in a fun and sometimes uncharacteristic performance as the mad scientist, such as when he gets into running fist fights (very clearly a stuntman). This version is hard to find and good if you’re limited on time but I recommend going with the full serial to watch the story as it was originally intended.

Trivia:

  • This is the first of Bela Lugosi’s eventual five serials, filmed in just 18 days.
  • Lugosi received a salary of $10,000, the most he ever received for a film.
  • The shadow effect was animated, a trick used by filmmakers in the 30s and 40s, such as the animated flying effects of Superman in those chapter serial adventures.
  • The chapter serial version was followed by the condensed film version, common for the day as a way for the studios to make more money.

Whispering 2Availability:

  • Catch the serial on YouTube, starting with chapter 1
  • Available on DVD in chapter form from Alpha Video
  • Available on DVD in condensed film form from Sinister Cinema
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