The movie opens with Lamont Cranston being a big-time hood running opium fields. He ends up being kidnapped and told the price of his redemption, whether or not he wants it, and seven years later he returns to New York City as the Shadow.
(This idea does do a good job of explaining the phrase of "who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men," since Cranston basically was evil and thus knows evil. )
A boss and two of his men are about to kill an oriental who observed something. The Shadow appears and beats up the boss and tells him he must go to the police and confess a murder he already did, while the other two guys take off.
The Shadow frees the oriental and he becomes one of the Shadow's agents.
Margo Lane is introduced as someone who "is strange" and "hears voices." Apparently she has some telepathic abilities.
The B.Jonas office is used to drop off messages, but this time the message follows along a very long pipeline to end up in a communications nerve center of some sort.
The evil guy is Shiwan Khan who finds his way into the Shadow's sanctum. Lamont's name was Ying Ko and Shiwan Khan admires that being (since he was so evil). Shiwan Khan knows Lamont is the Shadow, and he wants the two of them go join forces.
Shiwan Khan wants to build an atomic bomb (of a type), and Margo Lane's father is working on a device that he needs.
The movie also makes use of the disappearing ink-type of note that the Shadow used so often.
The Shadow figures out where Khan is hiding and where the bomb has been placed. There's a lot of action when the Shadow confronts Khan in their showdown and the Shadow emerges triumphant.
The movie is, in my opinion, excellent. It has all the trademarks of the classic pulp stories with the agents, the invisible writing, the Shadow's sanctum, etc. It has a really good villain, It makes Margo into a usable, believable and strong character rather then someone the Shadow has to spend all his time saving.
It also shows that there are ways to see where the Shadow is, and it shows that the Shadow is not immune to being hurt.
It's a really, really good movie.
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