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The Phantom Voice

Season 4
Feb 6, 1938

Major Characters:

  • The Shadow/Lamont Cranston
  • Senator Durham: A respected politician who is accused of accepting a bribe.
  • Anthony Vogel: An attorney who has a reputation for being crooked.
  • Hugh Wilson: A radio and stage actor.
  • Travers: A former wrestler and Vogel's personal bodyguard.

Featured Agents:

  • Margo Lane

Minor Characters:

  • Judge
  • Senator Durham's Defense Attorney
  • The Prosecutor (i.e. the Prosecuting Attorney)
  • Courtroom observers
  • Mario Renaldi (probably from the Mafia)

Synopsis: (Warning! Contains spoilers!)

A car pulls up at the criminal court. Lamont gets out and helps Margo out of the car. She's puzzled as to why he has brought her here. Lamont explains that they are here to witness and assassination — a character and reputation assassination of Senator Durham, one of the most outstanding public figures in the country. Margo has read the newspaper reports; there seems to be plenty of evidence that Senator Durham accepted a bribe. Lamont thinks the evidence is forged. Besides, Senator Durham is already wealthy (thanks to his independent income), and has devoted his life to public service. In fact, the amount of money he has given away is ten times the more than the bribe he is accused of accepting! Margo does not think it makes any sense either; why should Senator Durham be sentenced to 15 years in jail for a bribe he does not need? Lamont informs her that the prosecution is going to spring a surprise in court today, and that is the reason why they are here.

In the courtroom, the judge calls for order. Senator Durham's defense attorney states his case, emphasizing the senator's good reputation in society. Senator Durham is soon called to the stand to testify. He steadfastly denies taking a bribe from a man called Mario Renaldi, who is now deceased. The prosecutor then questions Senator Durham, asking him if he denies receiving a visit from the late Renaldi at his room at the Maximillian Hotel. Senator Durham does not deny the fact, but before he can explain why Renaldi was there in the first place, he is rudely cut off by the prosecutor. The prosecutor attacks the defense attorney's argument about Senator Durham's upstanding qualities and devotion to public works. In fact, there is evidence to discredit the senator: a motion picture that shows him accepting the bribe from Renaldi. The judge asks the defense if they have any objections. The defense attorney does not believe that this surprise evidence will harm Senator Durham, even though it was made without his knowledge. The judge orders the lights to be extinguished and the curtains drawn. The defense attorney asks, for the record, who it was that requested this picture to be made. The prosecutor replies that the picture was made at the request of a lawyer named Anthony Vogel. It seems Vogel was acting as a concerned citizen interested in public welfare.

The projection screen is placed before the jury. The prosecutor provides affidavits to prove that the motion picture of Senator Durham and Renaldi's meeting on the evening of December 16 is authentic. The picture begins, and the court sees Senator Durham receiving a visit from Renaldi. Renaldi wants a contract for a building, but Senator Durham asks him for fifty thousand in cash first. Renaldi agrees and says that he will return in an hour with the money if Senator Durham will get him the contract. The picture ends, and the courtroom erupts with excited chatter about this damning evidence. Senator Durham is shocked and protests his innocence. His defense attorney objects to the motion picture evidence, calling it a fake. Yes, they did meet in that hotel room, but the conversation heard in the motion picture never took place. Senator Durham admits that it sounded like his voice on the soundtrack of the picture, but he never, ever, received or asked for a bribe for any reason whatsoever. Only two people knew what really happened on the evening of December 16: Senator Durham and Renaldi. Unfortunately, Renaldi is dead. Hoping to salvage his case, the defense attorney asks the judge to declare a recess, so that the motion picture and its soundtrack can be studied. The judge agrees and gives him until 10 a.m. tomorrow. Just 24 hours.

Driving home, Margo seems convinced by the evidence, but Lamont is not so sure. He quotes a few words of wisdom from Greek philosophy: "Only believe half that which you see and nothing you hear". Lamont tells Margo that one can discern what another is saying by the way that person's jaw moves when certain words are spoken. Lamont had been carefully watching Senator Durham's jaw movements in the motion picture, and he is certain that a bribe was never asked for. But Senator Durham's face was half averted from the camera, so Lamont could not see his lips moving and cannot make out what he really said. Lamont stops the car. Margo notices that they are now outside the lawyers' building. Lamont announces that The Shadow will pay a visit to Anthony Vogel on the 25th floor. Vogel has a reputation as one of the most crooked lawyers in the city. He seemed so "concerned" about public welfare that he planted a camera in Senator Durham's hotel suite!

At Vogel's office, Vogel's personal bodyguard, Travers, is impressed by the clever trick that Vogel has pulled to frame Senator Durham. It is clear that Vogel has feelings of animosity towards Senator Durham (though he never really explains why), and he will only be satisfied once the senator is in jail. Travers takes the opportunity to ask Vogel when he can get back to his old job of wrestling. Travers is itching to get back into the ring, and could use the extra money. Vogel tells Travers that he's better off working as his bodyguard, and that he makes more money that way. Vogel then asks Travers if anyone had called while he was out. Travers replies that a man named Wilson called earlier wanting to have a talk with Vogel. Vogel begins to fear that Wilson might go to the press and tell them the truth about the soundtrack on motion picture shown in court today. Travers suggests that they "fix him" so that never happens, perhaps even arranging an accidental fall from Wilson's apartment on the 15th floor. Travers asks if can do it now, but Vogel decides to wait until Wilson starts to talk to the press. With that taken care of, Vogel moves on to another case he is working on.

The Shadow has heard enough from the two men, and confronts Vogel about the evidence against Senator Durham. Vogel attempts to bribe The Shadow, but he is turned down. The Shadow then asks Vogel about the Wilson's part in the framing. Instead of answering, Vogel orders Travers to lock the door, so that The Shadow cannot escape. "Melodrama won't help you, Vogel, " The Shadow replies.

Vogel tells Travers to take his hand and stand up against the wall. Puzzled, Travers does as he is told. Vogel then instructs Travers to stretch out his arms so that he is touching another wall (perpendicular to the one he is standing against), then to walk forward slowly. Starting from one end of the room, with their arms outstretched to the sides, the men begin walking to the other end. That way, The Shadow (who is invisible to them) will be caught in their trap. As they move forward, Travers feels something and grabs it. Vogel quickly joins in. The Shadow soon feels Vogel's hands around his throat. Gripped by Travers and choked by Vogel, The Shadow starts to weaken. Believing that The Shadow is defeated, Vogel decides to let Travers finish the job with his famous stranglehold, and leaves to deal with Wilson personally.

Arriving at Wilson's apartment, Vogel asks Wilson if he is alone. Wilson says that he is, and that he wants to talk to Vogel. Wilson's conscience is starting to bother him. Back then, he took the job offered by Vogel because he had a family to support. Now after reading the news about Senator Durham, he feels guilty about sending an innocent man to jail. Angered, Vogel pulls out a gun and forces Wilson to walk to the window. Terrified, Wilson begs for his life. Vogel ignores his pleas and orders him to open the window and to get on the window sill.

Suddenly, The Shadow intervenes. Vogel is shocked that The Shadow is still alive. The Shadow admits that Travers is a good wrestler, and for a while it seemed that he had him beaten,, but The Shadow soon defeated him using the fighting techniques he learnt in the orient. Once free of Travers, The Shadow managed to follow Vogel to Wilson's apartment. Not to be outwitted, Vogel shoots Wilson and plans to frame The Shdow for the murder. Vogel will make it so that the cops will find The Shadow locked up in the room with Wilson's body. "There's your proof, Shadow, lying on the floor!" Vogel laughs. He leaves the room and locks the door behind him.

Wilson is slowly dying from the gunshot wounds. He weakly calls out to The Shadow. The Shadow asks Wilson for proof of the framing, but Wilson passes out. Upon hearing the gunshots and seeing Vogel leaving the apartment building, Margo senses that something has happened to The Shadow. She quickly makes her way to Wilson's apartment and bangs on the door. The Shadow tells Margo to unlock the door (conveniently, the keys are on the outside). The Shadow blames himself for not intervening in time. He had waited too long, hoping that Wilson and Vogel will spill their secret before he spoke. Wilson comes to, and The Shadow asks him again how he had framed Senator Durham. Knowing that he is dying, Wilson asks them to help him into the next room. The Shadow and Margo soon discover that this room has recording equipment in it. Wilson admits that recording is his hobby. At Wilson's request, they help him ready the equipment. Wilson then records his dying confession...

At 10 a.m. the next morning, the court is in session. Senator Durham's defense attorney asks the judge to dismiss the charges against his client based on new evidence. It appears that a record was found in the apartment of the late Hugh Wilson, a radio and stage impersonator, who was found shot to death last night. They play the record. On it, Wilson admits that Vogel had hired him to impersonate Senator Durham's voice on the soundtrack of the motion picture. To prove it, Wilson begins to impersonate Senator Durham, but the performance does not last long. Wilson dies. At the end of the recording, the court hears a mysterious voice confirming that Wilson is indeed telling the truth. Puzzled by that voice, the judge asks the defense attorney who it is.

"That, your honour," the defense attorney replies, "is the voice of the man to whom Senator Durham owes his vindication. The voice of The Shadow!"


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