Bourbon on the rocks
Steven Hellerstedt | 10/15/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Fortunately for all of us the dvd jacket cover gives you a plot outline, because watching 1958's THE INVISIBLE AVENGER isn't going to give you much of a clue to what's going on. There's a revolution going down down in the mythical South America country of Santa Cruz and the exiled leader of that country is in New Orleans. The exile's (along with his beautiful daughter) life is threatened and a friend calls Lamont Cranston for aid and assistance.
It's a dreadful backdrop story to this unique little Shadow vehicle. THE INVISIBLE AVENGER is, for the most part, true to its pulp and radio origins, although it's odd that the popular radio hero would be featured in this low-budget quickie. I mean, The Shadow was popular enough to merit a more ambitious feature debut than this. Wasn't he?
Richard Derr stars as Cranston/the Shadow with Mark Daniels co-starring as personal guru Jogendra. Margo Lane is sorely missed, although Jogendra is an interesting Xandadu/Viennese mystic. His best bit of wisdom is this pearly observation on love and honor - "It is a great victory to win a place in a girl's heart, but even a greater victory to save her country from tyranny." Wrap it in a expensively clothed, well groomed and vaguely foreign mystic and you will be as impressed as I was.
Derr makes a decent enough Shadow, and there's quite a bit of location photography in late-50's New Orleans that's fun to see. If you aren't familiar with the Shadow you'll probably be confused, because the movie seems to take on faith you know who he is and what he does.
I don't know the behind-the-scenes story on this, but I think the fact that's there's two directors credited should tell us something. Hack director Ben Parker is likely the one replaced, Academy Award winning cinematographer James Wong Howe probably cleaned it up as well as he could. Howe won a Best Cinematography Oscar for 1955's THE ROSE TATTOO and 1963's HUD. THE INVISIBLE AVENGER has some great location shots of New Orleans, but for the most part its look doesn't rise above the lame script or the movie's low budget.
Recommended for Shadow fans only, more as a curiosity piece than a good movie.
More Of The Shadow You Know
Paul A. Fucito | Washington, DC | 03/05/2003
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Since this was a long lost print, don't expect a perfect transfer. The picture quality shows some age, but isn't as bad as many DVD's for the same price. Since this is not in widescreen format, you get a few cut-offs in the titles now and then. The sound is decent enough, but has a tendency to crackle now and then. Keep in mind the age and rarity of the print however, and you overlook the flaws. Chances are there will never be a Criterion edition of this release.For Shadow fans, this is a must have and a steal at the price. 50's Sci-fi fans would also enjoy this film for the "special effects." Grab this, the double VHS serial and the Alec Baldwin film before you get "International Crime / The Shadow Strikes.""