Category Archives: Pre-80’s movies

Behind the Mask

The Shadow: Behind the Mask 1946

This post is part of our Patreon program where for just $1 a month, you can vote for one of the movies that I review on this site. This is another one of the series of older Shadow films and the second of three released in 1946 with Kane Richmond as Lamont Cranston and Barbara Reed as Margo Lane. The two of them are engaged and about to be married when the murder of a newspaper columnist is pinned on the Shadow and it’s up to Lamont to solve it. Similar to the previous film The Shadow Returns, this is filled with a lot of sitcom-esque humor that honestly gets in the way of the film more than it enhances it. While The Shadow Returns had some fun moments and was generally entertaining, this one felt much more like a chore with an outdated sense of humor and aimless storytelling.

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(The Shadow) International Crime

International Crime 1938

While I would have preferred to have moved onto the two Shadow sequels after the Shadow Returns, instead the only other Shadow movie available on Amazon Prime was the second Shadow film featuring Rod la Rocque as the Shadow in a very different form than he would later become. And also most likely a different version of the Shadow than the one that was already popular at the time of this film despite the fact that both of their stories were based on The Shadow pulp novels. This one was based on Foxhound. Instead of the vigilante with the power to cloud men’s minds, here he’s basically an investigative journalist with a focus on crime stories. He doesn’t have any special powers, he doesn’t have any real special abilities other than a bit of quick thinking and a knack for accents. And his secret identity isn’t really a secret at all. As for the crime drama half of the movie, there’s barely a crime and the movie spends more time on the radio show and newspaper office than it does on the actual crime. There’s some comedy bits but not enough to keep interest in the period’s typical sixty minute run time.

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The Shadow Returns

The Shadow Returns 1946

Getting back into watching these superhero movies and writing reviews again definitely makes me realize how much I missed going back into some of the older superhero movies. This was available on Amazon Prime which I currently have so I figured I’d give it a shot. I had already reviewed the first full length Shadow movie a while back but that didn’t really feel too much like the Shadow from that 90’s that I’ve been more familiar with. Just nine years later, this feels like a giant step towards the more familiar Shadow with the addition of Margo and his personal cab driver though there are still some discrepancies. This also feels more like the later Shadow movie with the addition of plenty of humor where this is almost more of a sitcom murder mystery rather than a serious detective movie. There were plenty of fun moments throughout the movie despite the plot being overly weak and convoluted. It also didn’t help that the version showing on Amazon Prime does have some sound issues where the sound completely cuts out in a few places so I missed a little bit of the dialogue. Not enough to get lost, just enough to be annoying.

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The Shadow Strikes

The Shadow Strikes 1937

Even though a lot of people point to Superman and the Mole Men as the first theatrical superhero movie, there’s a few others that came before it that aren’t quite what we think of now as superhero movies, but share enough similarities and/or the main character in other materials would be considered more of a superhero. This movie is definitely not a superhero movie in its own right, but the Shadow is definitely a superhero in other incarnations. This movie and a few other Shadow movies have been sitting at the top of my list for many years now and I only just now decided to check them off. It wasn’t exactly what I expected, but I think that’s why I enjoyed it so much. It’s not really that great, but it was a nice change of pace for me.

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The Adventures of Jane

The Adventures of Jane 1949

I’ve gotten another free month of Amazon Prime and I thought I’d put it to good use to watch a couple movies based on a serialized comic strip that I knew very little about. Really the only thing I knew about it was that it was serialized, and that the main character Jane often had her clothes ripped off of her body, leaving her in her underwear. It very rarely or only just once went fully nude, it was generally just slightly bawdy for that era and treated with a Benny Hill-esque sense that the nudity was intended more for comedy and embarrassment rather than eroticism. This was the first adaptation and it was apparently made quick and cheap and it really shows. There wasn’t a whole lot going on for this movie other than a couple cheap laughs and the bare minimum of a story to it.

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Santo y Blue Demon contra Doctor Frankestein

Santo y Blue Demon contra Doctor Frankestein 1974

It’s time to finish out Hispanic Heritage Month with the last Santo movie from my local library. Now I only have like 49 more of these movies to go if I ever want to completely finish them. It’s been an interesting trek, none of them are really that great. I’ve fallen asleep (albeit watching late at night) twice out of the four movies. But each one is different enough from the other to keep things interesting. The fights were interesting to a point and I’m glad to be taking a long break from the movies but each one had something interesting about it to make it different from the rest of the movies while still having the same Santo charm.

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Santo vs la Hija de Frankestein

Santo vs la Hija de Frankestein 1972

I’m still going through the four different Santo movies that I’ve found at my local library to help celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month. I’ve actually been quite surprised by the variations of the three titles I’ve watched so far despite the fact that I’m jumping around in chronology. Not that it matters as each movie is completely disconnected from the next as far as I can tell. There may be a connection to this one and the last Santo movie I have with him and Blue Demon vs Doctor Frankenstein, but I suppose I’ll have to wait to find out. This one was actually the most enjoyable of these movies so far with an interesting cast of villains and a nice little twist on the wrestling matches.

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Santo en la Venganza de la Momia

Santo en la Venganza de la Momia 1971

This is the third Santo movie that I’ve watched and the second one that I’m reviewing for Hispanic Heritage Month. They have been an interesting series of movies to showcase a popular Mexican luchador who transitioned to comics before starring in movies all while being popular for several decades. They all follow the same basic premise: Santo has a wrestling match and then he gets involved in some sort of mystery involving something supernatural. This one has a unique distinction of being more like Scooby Doo because of the ending, but it still follows the same overall structure. There’s more comic relief and a little bit of heart added to the narrative, but overall it was just more of the same.

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Santo y Blue Demon Contra Dracula y el Hombre Lobo

Santo y Blue Demon Contra Dracula y el Hombre Lobo 1973

A few weeks ago when I was at the library, I noticed that they had four of the classic Santo movies. And while there are 53 different Santo movies that came out between the 60’s and 80’s I’ve currently only watched the most famous one that was also featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000. After I borrowed this title, I happened to notice that there’s a blogathon going on that coincides with this movie. It’s been a long time since I’ve joined in a blogathon so I thought this would be the perfect timing, especially as it’s Hispanic Heritage Month. If you’d like more information, head over to Once Upon a Screen to see more about the blogathon. I hope to cover at least one more of the films in the next two weeks, but we’ll see about that. As for the film itself, it was more or less what I expected based on my previous experience, though the production values were slightly higher as it came out ten years later. It wasn’t that deep, it was weird but not over the top campy, and I had fun with it for the most part.

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Legends of the Superheroes

Legends of the Superheroes 1979

Batman’s 80th anniversary just passed yesterday and in celebration I finally gave in and signed up for DC Universe’s new streaming app with their 80 cents for the first month sale. The main reason why I wanted to get the app was to watch this DC oddity that I had heard about but never got around to watching until now. It’s not quite a movie, not quite a miniseries, but it’s a two-part TV special that honestly feels like DC’s answer to the Star Wars Holiday Special. It’s ultra-low budget, it feels like a sketch comedy show with superheroes, and it’s difficult to tell what they really wanted to do with this property. It’s one of the very few Hanna Barbera live action properties and was tied into the Superfriends cartoon, but they couldn’t use Superman or Wonder Woman due to their rights being tied up in other places at the time. It’s pretty much one of those so-bad-it’s-good, but it did catch a couple genuine laughs out of me.

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