Cast & Crew
James Wong Howe
At a New Orleans nightclub, Pablo Ramirez, the deposed president of the Latin American country Santa Cruz, and his daughter Felicia ask trumpeter Tony Alcade to contact his friend, crime fighter Lamont Cranston, for help. Ramirez has been in hiding since his twin brother Victor aided Generalissimo Valdez in overthrowing Santa Cruz's democratic government to establish a dictatorship. Pablo's followers in Santa Cruz are preparing to move against the dictator and want Pablo to lead them, but Pablo's life is threatened by Valdez' spies, who are operating out of a New Orleans club owned by Tara O'Neill. Tony, who works at Tara's club, the Famous Door, agrees to ask Lamont to come to New Orleans and protect Pablo. In the club's back room, Tony phones Lamont at his home in New York, but as he begins to say that Tara is dangerous, Tara's accomplice, Ramon "Rocco" Martinez, kills Tony. Rocco then notifies his boss, the colonel, about Tony contacting Lamont and mentioning Tara's name. Suspecting that Lamont will come to New Orleans to investigate, the colonel instructs Rocco to arrange for one of their operatives, a cab driver named Charlie, to meet Lamont at the airport. Meanwhile, Lamont, concerned about Tony, decides to fly to New Orleans with his mentor Jogendra, who taught him to master the Eastern techniques of mind control. After Charlie meets Lamont and Jogendra at the airport and drives them to their hotel, Lamont proceeds to Tara's club where he questions trumpeter Billy about Tony. As Billy replies that Tony has abruptly left town, Tara stops by the table and asks Lamont to leave. On the street, Lamont hails a cab and Charlie picks him up. Sensing that Charlie plans to shanghai him, Lamont uses his mental powers to "cloud Charlie's mind," making the cab driver unable to see Lamont. When Charlie turns around and sees only a shadowy figure of a man in the back seat, he reports back to Rocco. Upon exiting the cab, Lamont sets up a meeting with Tara on a street corner. That night, as Lamont walks toward Tara, a truck speeds up on the street behind him. Jogendra, sensing Lamont's danger, telepathically sends him a warning, allowing Lamont to avoid the onrushing truck. Lamont then sneaks into the Famous Door and finds Tony's body stuffed inside a piano. When Rocco attacks Lamont, Lamont fends him off, then turns into The Shadow and goes to see Pablo and Felicia, whose address he found in Tony's coat pocket. As The Shadow, Lamont warns that they are in grave danger and directs them to a new hiding place, adding that if they need to reach him, they should call Lamont Cranston. Lamont and Jogendra return to the club later that night, where Lamont notices that the visiting trumpet player has left his instrument behind. Lamont then asks Jogendra to hypnotize Billy into picking up the trumpet, and when it sounds off key, Billy runs into the back room. Lamont follows and wrestles the instrument from him, then flees. Billy follows and, pointing a gun at Lamont, orders him to put down the trumpet. Turning into The Shadow, Lamont slugs Billy and retrieves the trumpet. Inside one of its keys, he finds a message referring to a television broadcast at eight p.m. the following night. The next night at eight, Jogendra and Lamont watch as a newscaster announces that Rocco, Billy and Tara have been arrested for Tony's murder. The newscaster then shows a newsreel of the execution of Victor Ramirez, who, he explains, has been sentenced to die for conspiring to overthrow the Generalissimo. With his last words, Victor begs his brother to forgive him for his betrayal and come out of hiding to lead his country to freedom. When the newsreel ends, Felicia phones Lamont to inform him that Pablo has decided to make a public address the following day. Hurrying to Pablo's, Lamont warns him that he may be walking into a trap, but Pablo insists on honoring his brother's dying wish and leading his people to freedom. Lamont then agrees to join Pablo when he publicly speaks out the next day on the church steps. The following day, Pablo is greeted by cheers when he tells his followers that Santa Cruz will be free within twenty-four hours. Lamont is separated from Pablo when the crowd boosts Pablo onto their shoulders and carries him away. The crowd takes Pablo to a waiting car, which then drives off. Alarmed, Lamont, Jogendra and Felicia follow the car to the docks where they catch up to Pablo. However, when the man they think is Pablo turns to face them, they realize that they have been duped. Recalling that he noticed a car identical to the one they were following, Lamont notes that the decoy vehicle has a car rental sticker on its bumper and goes to the agency to find out who rented the vehicles. When the agent refuses to divulge the person's identity, Lamont turns into The Shadow and examines the records. Shaken, the agent phones the colonel, the man who rented the cars. The colonel has hidden Pablo in a coffin, and at the funeral home that serves as his headquarters, loads the coffin into a hearse. To divert Lamont, the colonel sends out another hearse, which leads Lamont and the others to the cemetery while the colonel and his thugs drive their hearse to meet a ship docked offshore. Realizing their error, Lamont and his party leave the cemetery and catch up to the colonel just as he and his thugs are pulling away in a speedboat. After Pablo is taken aboard the ship, Lamont and the others row out to the ship and sneak aboard. Noticing the rowboat tied to the side of the ship, a crew member notifies the captain while Lamont leads Felicia to Pablo's cabin and leaves her there. When Pablo strikes Felicia, she realizes that the man she thought was her father really is her uncle Victor, and that Pablo is lying unconscious on the floor. After Jogendra tricks the captain into cutting the ship's engines by making him believe that an iceberg looms ahead of them, Lamont enters the cabin and is met by the colonel who explains that Victor's execution was a ruse to unmask Pablo. When Victor aims his gun at Lamont, Lamont turns into The Shadow, and the bullet hits the colonel instead. After the colonel shoots back, killing Victor, their henchmen enter with news that the Generalissimo has been overthrown. Asserting that they no longer need to fight because they live in freedom, Pablo convinces the men to put down their guns.
At the end of the film, an offscreen narrator recites the signature phrase of "The Shadow": "Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows." No contemporary reviews or exact release date have been located for the film, although NYSA records reveal that the picture was approved for exhibition in New York State in 1958. Invisible Avenger was re-released in Maryland in 1962 and in New York State in 1963 under the title Bourbon St. Shadows.
The 1962 version credited Willis Winford, as well as Joseph Wheeler, as Director of Photography, and Ben Parker was listed as the sole producer and director. It is not known if the difference in credits was due to the filming of additional sequences for the re-release, which modern sources indicate included some adult content scenes and had a running time of 60 minutes. The film was the last directed by James Wong Howe, who was most noted for his work as a cinematograoer from the 1920s through the 1970s. According to a modern source, Invisible Avenger was an unsold pilot film for a proposed television series based on "The Shadow." For more information about "The Shadow," please consult The Shadow Strikes in AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40.