Heavens to Betsy. By what casting miracle did perennial bad guy, Victor Jory, land the role of a comic book hero,The Shadow, in 1940. Victor was also the leading character ( though not the masked hero) in THE GREEN ARCHER,also from 1940.
THE SHADOW and THE GREEN ARCHER were only two of ten films Victor Jory appeared in that year – which probably reflects how quickly B pictures were made, or how quickly character actors, with small roles, could go from one film to another – or just how many movies the studios were turning out per year.
I like Victor Jory,though typecasting and his looks meant he was nearly always on the wrong side of the law. But in the 1930s, Victor played the lead in several films.
But I must admit surprise when I learned he was the lead in two serials. He was in his late 30s at the time, and played the roles with a lightness appropriate for serials.
It’s a long time since I’ve seen a serial and both “The Shadow” and “The Green Archer” were fun to watch. It is so understandable how popular they were with young audiences.
The cliffhanger endings of each episode obviously kept audiences coming back to see how the hero would survive.
It was also convenient that so many of the heroes were masked, making it so much easier for stuntmen to take over in fight scenes.
Even the chapter titles were exciting – “Mirror of Treachery” – “The Deceiving Microphone” – “The Underground Trap” – “The Sealed Room” – “Where Horror Waits.”
In “The Shadow”,the black suit,cape and bandana made for a more swashbuckling figure,whereas “The Green Archer” just seemed to a variation of Robin Hood,fighting crime with his bow and arrow.
Veda Ann Borg played Lamont Cranston’s assistant in The Shadow. Jory is Cranston, a scientist and criminologist, who becomes The Shadow to fight crime. Cranston also disguises himself as a rather hideous looking Chinese character ,Lin Chang. Seen today, that character is so offensive.
Car chases,fights,explosions or fires – expect them all in a serial. The Green Archer is set in a castle, which meant trap doors, hidden panels, secret passageways. The Green Archer was an Edgar Wallace creation, a ghost from the castle’s past.
Victor Jory is Spike Holland,an insurance investigator trying to help his friend and unmask the criminal activities of the castle’s owner.
The identity of the Archer isn’t revealed till the last episode. Must admit I never figured it out.
So,here’s to the serial and a trip back in time!