Blog: Writing about all things pulplish

Advertising The Shadow

Posted by at 10:00 am Friday, September 15, 2017 in Mail-away premiums, Movies, Old Time Radio (OTR), Pulp, Serials, The Shadow
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Advertising The Shadow
Ad found in a 1938 issue of Doc Savage Magazine.

Ad found in a 1938 issue of Doc Savage Magazine.

Ads and promotions for The Shadow appeared in many forms. Below you will see examples of some of them. Most are advertisements intended to entice radio listeners to tune in each Sunday afternoon for another exciting episode of The Shadow program. There are also a few advertisements for the pulp magazines and movies shown.

Ink blotters were probably the most commonly found types of advertising material for The Shadow. Although nobody uses ink blotters any more, back in the old radio era ball-point pens were not yet being mass produced and most people wrote with fountain pens and regularly used ink blotters. They were cheap to produce and became a popular advertising medium for all sorts of products and businesses.

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The Shadow on television

Posted by at 10:00 am Friday, August 25, 2017 in Movies, Old Time Radio (OTR), Old TV Shows, Pulp, Serials, The Shadow
Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

The Shadow on television

The version of The Shadow that radio listeners heard beginning in 1937 was designed specifically for the medium of radio. And it was a perfect fit. A crime fighter with the power to become invisible required no special effects other than what the individual mind could conjure.

That version of The Shadow did not translate well to the screen, either large or small. There were a series of motion-picture shorts that featured an early radio version of The Shadow… where The Shadow was an unseen narrator of the stories. Four feature-length motion pictures were produced between 1937 and 1946, but they used a more pulp version of The Shadow. A 1940 movie serial used the same approach. It wasn’t until 1994 and the motion picture The Shadow, starring Alec Baldwin, that radio’s version of The Shadow appeared in movie theaters… and disappeared, using his power to cloud men’s minds.

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‘Mysterious Doctor Satan’: a serial in 15 chapters

Posted by at 10:00 am Friday, March 3, 2017 in Movies, Serials
Estimated reading time: 9 minutes

‘Mysterious Doctor Satan’: a serial in 15 chapters
 Movie poster for Mysterious Doctor Satan.

Movie poster for Mysterious Doctor Satan.

There was a period of time when I watched a lot of serials. Sadly, many of them were second-rate efforts. So I decided to treat myself and watch one of the top-rated serials of all time, Mysterious Doctor Satan. And, yes, the quality shows right off the bat. You get a full 15 chapters, here. And no economy chapter!

Originally planned as a Superman serial, Republic couldn’t secure the rights, so they rewrote the script and our hero became The Copperhead! No need to throw out a perfectly good script, after all.

So often, serials open with various scenes of mass destruction followed by whirling headlines that proclaim “Unknown power sabotages industries.” Not so, here. This opening is more like a real movie than a serial. Our story opens as a man is shot and killed outside an office building in Capital City. Shot at the order of Doctor Satan to prevent his meeting with the governor.

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‘Daughter of Don Q’: a serial in 12 chapters

Posted by at 10:00 am Friday, February 3, 2017 in Movies, Serials
Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

‘Daughter of Don Q’: a serial in 12 chapters
Poster for The Daughter of Don Q.

Poster for The Daughter of Don Q.

Now this is an interesting serial. The Daughter of Don Q was released in 1946 by Republic Pictures, after the end of WWII. It’s not a western. Not a sci-fi serial. There’s no masked villain. No jungle adventure. It’s the story of a guy who wants to do away with all the heirs to a vast land fortune, so he can inherit land worth millions. The guy is Carlos Manning, an antique store owner, played by LeRoy Mason. Mason was a slick actor who appeared in many “B” movies and serials. He died of a heart attack the following year.

Carlos Manning’s chief lieutenant, a thug named Mel Donovan, is played by our old friend Roy Barcroft. Barcroft is a name well familiar to any Republic serial buff. He played in dozens of Republic features and serials. And although Carlos Manning is the chief baddie, Mel Donovan gets most of the action.

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‘King of the Texas Rangers’: a serial in 12 chapters

Posted by at 10:00 am Friday, January 6, 2017 in Movies, Serials
Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

‘King of the Texas Rangers’: a serial in 12 chapters
Poster for the serial.

Poster for the serial.

In King of the Texas Rangers you’ve got cowboys and horses, cars, boats, and planes, all set in contemporary times. It’s a “modern” western set in 1941 when war raged in Europe and America was preparing its defenses for the inevitable war looming on the horizon.

Starring in this serial is “Slingin’ Sammy” Baugh, the Washington Redskins legendary quarterback, in his dramatic debut. And his dramatic farewell, at the same time. Yep, he only did one movie, and it was a serial.

As our story opens, “Slingin'” Tom King is a college football quarterback (Okay, we can’t award any points for originality here). Texas Ranger Captain T.J. King, Tom’s father, has some vital information about saboteurs. But they murder him before he can deliver it. Tom leaves college and joins up with the Texas Rangers to avenge the death of his father and finish the job the old man started.

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‘The Purple Monster Strikes’: a serial in 15 chapters

Posted by at 10:00 am Friday, December 2, 2016 in Movies, Serials
Estimated reading time: 10 minutes

‘The Purple Monster Strikes’: a serial in 15 chapters
 Poster for The Purple Monster Strikes.

Poster for The Purple Monster Strikes.

This week I review one of the classic Republic cliffhangers, and as you read it, you’ll see why it’s a classic. This serial was produced as World War II was ending. America was winning, and this chapter play reflects the prevalent fervor of patriotic bravado. An invasion from Mars? Bring ’em on! We’re licking the Nazis, we can lick Mars!

As our story opens, Dr. Cyrus Layton sits in his observatory, looking through his huge telescope. He sees a strange, purple meteor heading toward earth. Except, it turns out that it’s not really a meteor; it’s a small, one-man spaceship from Mars! And inside is the Purple Monster. Okay, it’s not really a monster; it’s just a guy who acts really mean. And maybe he’s wearing purple. It’s hard to tell in black and white.

The spaceship crash lands near Dr. Layton’s observatory, so naturally, Layton has to investigate. He arrives just as the Purple Monster jumps out of the burning wreck of the spaceship. The alien doesn’t give his name. “My name would mean nothing to you.” Dr. Layton takes the alien Martian back to his observatory. Seems like the logical thing to do when you encounter an alien life form for the first time.

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