Shadow (Album Review)
Enjoyable, but flawed, big
screen outing for a popular super hero from the 1930's, both
presented on Radio and in comic book form. The Shadow
was an attempt to cash in on the interest in movies like Batman
but sadly failed at the box office.
Jerry Goldsmith's grand orchestral score captures the darkness
of the character and source material over the opening credits
where the composer states his main theme (The Poppy Fields).
Goldsmith's theme hits Elfman like proportions but is without
doubt quintessential Goldsmith. Along with the ominous brass
lead theme there's some polished electronic percussion and atmospheric
manipulations for the Shadow's mind control abilities,
along with love theme for warm strings. Sadly the album track
misses out on the Challenge like knife fight that follows.
The Sanctum expands upon the darker opening with a frenzied
workout for orchestra as the Shadow's convoluted messaging
system, made up of drain pipes connected across the New York
skyline, is shown delivering a message. This arrangement gets
a further workout during the film's finale and takes on a slightly
more comical twist.
Who Are You? is a brilliantly understated cue for a confrontation
between the Shadow and his nemesis; a reincarnation of
Genghis Khan. Essentially a dialogue piece, Goldsmith
captures every nuance of the exchange with trembling strings
and subdued horns.
Chest Pains introduces some action with a classy Goldsmith
stop/start action cue. It's here Goldsmith gets the first opportunity
to give his dark theme an heroic workout, powerfully presented
by the brass section, with plucked strings and crashing cymbals.
This cue also introduces a secondary theme for a plethora of
metallic and wooden percussion. A rousing workout for your speakers
that reminds the audience of the Shadow's violent beginnings
The middle section cues are more downbeat but nonetheless suspenseful
with both The Knife and The Hotel offering further
arrangements of Goldsmith's theme and show casing the incredible
electronics that were integrated into the dense orchestral elements.
Sadly, the exciting battle in the Hotel is missing and it's The
Tank that's the album's finale. Here Goldsmith builds a massive
suspense cue for a silly sequence in which the Shadow
is locked in a water tank slowly filling with water. Goldsmith
again releases his wild percussion lead Tibetan theme as the
Shadow takes a bullet but is still able to use his mental
powers to call on Margo to come and rescue him. As the tension
mounts the composer piles on the pressure with stabbing strings
and cymbal crashes before brass triumphantly closes the
The score ends with Frontal Lobotomy, which takes a whirl
wind tour of Goldsmith's themes. First a lighter rendition of
the Tibetan theme for Khan's incarceration in a mental hospital,
before moving onto a beautiful rendition of the love theme for
Margo and Cranston, and a final workout of The Shadow
theme with musical exclamation.