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The Shadow Monthly Poll

Should Margo and The Shadow have a relationship (i.e. does The Shadow really need a love interest)? Why?

Want to add your own opinion? Email me! Don't forget to read the rules, though.

I think it depends on the medium. In the pulps and the comics, The Shadow is such a man of mystery that he doesn't really seem to be human. So Margo would probably find Harry a much more warm and satisfying companion. (Although, in "The Shadow Strikes" comic, The Shadow expressed strong dislike about his agents associating outside of their jobs for him.) But on the radio and in any film version, I think there needs to be a romantic angle between Lamont and Margo. Especially in the movies, where they have suggested that Cranston IS the Shadow, and he's not Kent Allard (as in the pulps.) I do think that they should have a relationship, yes.

I really don't know if they as characters needed a relationship, but the series, both pulp and radio, did need that type of relationship. As has been said somewhere, if The Shadow on radio had had a male assistant, Harry Vincent or whoever, it might have been confusing to the audience to have the two male voices. By making one of the characters a woman, it gave that diversity of voices and allowed the radio writers to construct a series of stories that listeners could have more interest in.

On the radio, Lamont and Margo were danger magnets. They couldn't go anywhere, do anything, without something strange, weird, or eerie happening. To put a woman in peril was considered more exciting, and the writers knew that putting Margo in those type of situations would make the listeners come back again and again, and, perhaps more importantly, buy the sponser's product. (That said, having recently listened to 100 Shadow radio shows in the space of three weeks, there certainly was a formula readily evident when hearing some many shows at one time. At weekly intervals, it's not so obviously, but hearing four of five shows in a row, the formula is obvious) .

Turning to the pulps, and seeming to draw far afield, but hopefully bringing all the threads of the tapestry together: The Shadow started out as the mysterious crime fighter who had his agents who did their tasks and allowed his intricate plans against criminals to succeed in foiling the crimes of the crooks. The only relationship that The Shadow had with his agents was as one of leader ordering his followers to do their tasks. When did an agent of The Shadow ever question his master's orders? Never, that I can recall. Maybe they couldn't carry out The Shadow's orders because of circumstances(being captured by the crooks), but they never questioned his orders.

The pulp series started out with The Shadow fighting crooks and criminal gangs, but soon moved into what I would call "white collar crime" where the criminal masterminds were not low-lifes and thugs, but cultured people, people of character who found that they could commit a crime and get away with it and never be suspected because of their position in society. Walter Gibson's evolution of the series had The Shadow and his agents come into contact with more members of society than just crooks. Gibson needed a female character and had it in Myra Reldon.

I am sure that Gibson would have liked to use Myra Reldon more than Margo Lane, but he had to go with the more well-known character. And being an undercover agent, Myra was used to being in criminal dives as well as elegant ballrooms, so she could have fit in both places, while I think that Margo, in a sense, was more restricted in where she roamed, as she was more of a society girl, and seemed more at ease in those type of situations.
But radio listeners who picked up the magazine wondered where Margo was. Probably more people listened to The Shadow than bought the magazine.

I think Gibson had to concede to market forces and introduce Margo to the pulps (as indeed he did) Having said all that, I think the relationship of Margo and Allard/Cranston/The Shadow in the pulps was not quite the relationship in the radio series. Yes, Cranston was a wealthy man about town and Margo Lane was, at times, his constant companion. But the radio plays didn't have the complex storylines that the pulps had and didn't need the shorthand relationship of Margo/The Shadow that the radio plays had.

I don't think Margo and The Shadow needed a relationship. I think the audiences, both radio and pulp, needed the relationship to make the radio plays and pulp novels more easily fit into their worldview. If Margo was just an agent of The Shadow in the pulps, why was she his constant companion on the radio shows? At that time maybe people couldn't deal with two versions of a popular character and just needed the reassurance that what they heard in one medium was the same thing they could read in another medium.

William Hunt


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