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Reflection of Death
(May 9, 1948)

Synopsis and critique

''Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows!'' Laughter.

''Once again, your neighborhood Blue Coal dealer brings you the thrilling adventures of the Shadow. The hard and relentless fight of one man against the forces of evil. These dramatizations are designed to demonstrate forcefully to old and young alike, that crime does not pay!

The Shadow, who aids the forces of law and order, is in reality Lamont Cranston, wealthy young man-about-town. Years ago in the Orient, Cranston learned a strange and mysterious secret, the hypnotic power to cloud men's minds so they cannot see him. Cranston's friend and companion, the lovely Margot Lane, is the only person who knows to whom the voice of the invisible Shadow belongs. Today's drama, Reflection of Death.''

Brett Morrison plays Lamont Cranston AKA The Shadow, and Grace Mathews plays Margot Lane. The announcer is Andre Baruch. The script was written by Louis Vittes.

Bret Morrison as Lamont, Grace Mathews as Margo.

The cast of characters (uncredited) are:

Nancy Craig
John Craig

Street sounds. Footsteps clicking on a sidewalk. Newlyweds John and Nancy Craig are out shopping. Nancy spies an antique shop and they enter. It’s an atmospheric shop, dark as a tomb, with pieces on display that look like big, crouching animals. An elderly woman emerges from the depths, ready and willing to tell tales about all the pieces in which they show an interest.

A mirror catches Nancy’s eye. ‘’There’s a story about that mirror,’’ the shopkeeper comments….’’What story?’’ Nancy asks eagerly. ‘’That mirror was made in the days when witches were being burned, and people believed in visions. Usually.dreadful visions.’’ John laughs. ‘’Old wives tales.’’ The shopkeeper is undaunted. ‘’Probably , sir, though many men believed in them. We know better now perhaps, but it was said in those days that a mirror made as this one was, in a rather strange and horrible fashion…showed much more than ordinary mirrors.’’

‘’What did it show?’’ Nancy asks, timorously. ‘’The faces…of people about to die….of course not everyone could see those faces in the mirror…only….only those who had the gift.’’ ‘’Well, how could they tell if they had the gift?’’ ‘’Oh, there were many signs. Perhaps the most certain sign…’’ John attempts to override her, but she continues ‘’was the ears of Pan. Ears with pointed lobes…’’ John interrupts her again, briskly. ‘’Nancy, do you want the mirror?’’ ‘’Yes, John, I do.’’ John hands over the money and arranges for the mirror to be delivered to their house that afternoon. As they are exiting the shop, the ribbons on Nancy’s hat get caught in her ear ring. John frees it for her. ‘’’Here we’ve been married more than a month, terribly long time, and I’ve never noticed your ears before…’’ ‘’What about them?’’ ‘’Well, the lobes. They’re…pointed.’’

Thunder rumbles briefly, and Nancy speaks dreamily of her mirror as the clock chimes eleven. John goes downstairs to lock up. Within a few seconds, the lights in the room go out. Nancy hums, speaking to herself. ‘’It’s funny, staring into a mirror when it’s dark and you can’t see anything. I wonder, am I really there in the mirror, even if I can’t see myself….’’ Then she gasps. ‘’No…oh no….’’ She screams.

Nancy has come to the home of Lamont Cranston for help, and Margot Lane is there as well. She urges Nancy to tell her story. Nancy explains about the mirror, and then tells what had happened the night before. ‘’I saw my father’s face in it. I could see his face in the mirror…not mine at all…and it was horrible..all crumpled and distorted…he looked as if he were dead!’’ She chokes up and tries to get hold of herself. Lamont tries to soothe her, but to no avail. ‘’I was’t tired, I wasn’t overwrought. I was very happy. Please, Mr. Cranston, will you come with me and look at the mirror.’’ Spurred on by Margot, Lamont agrees to visit her later that day.

Footsteps going up the steps to a house. ‘’What a lovely house the Craigs have, Lamont.’’ ‘’Yes, lovely and old.’’ They ring the bell and the butler, Clemons answers. By his sour voice one knows he’s old, tall, thin and dessicated, probably with white hair and thin, pinched lips. He escorts the couple into the drawing room where Nancy awaits, somewhat sheepishly. She admits that she has calmed down and is feeling rather foolish. Lamont and Margot speak comforting to her when Clemons re-enters bearing a telegram on a salver. Nancy takes the telegram, reads it, and faints. Lamont picks it up. ‘’Sent from upstate New York. Says, ‘Regret to inform you your father died this morning at Interlachen Hospital. Signed, Head Nurse.’ Her father, Margot.’’

A door opens and Margot enters a room where Lamont is waiting. She tells him that Nany is sleeping – the doctor gave her a sedative. Her husband is sitting beside her like a frightened's sweet. The door opens again for Clemons – Lamont instructs him to take the new mirror up to the attic. Clemons acquiesces with bad grace. Margot doesn’t like him. ‘’Just a sullen old man.’’ Lamont and Margot leave the house, confident that nothing can happen that night. They leave.

Nancy Craig moans in her sleep. A low, whispering voice (not the Shadow’s!) calls her name. She wakens, but can see nothing. The voice exhorts her to get up, and in her drugged state she obeys. The voice exhorts her up to the attic, and protestingly she obeys…upstairs, into the attic. Nancy can’t see anything – then ‘’There, there it is.’’ She looks into the mirror…’’I see a face….the face of Clemons…green…it’s so green…I see his neck. There’s a rope around his neck, and it’s drawn tight. Tight! And.... he’s dead!

COMMERCIAL for Blue Coal

Lamont has picked up Margot and they pull up in front of the Craig house in a screech of brakes. Clemons answers the door to them, more surly than ever if that’s possible. To their surprise, he leaves them in the hallway. John Craig rushes up to them, his words rolling over themselves in his agitation. He’d been sitting downstairs, he couldn’t sleep. When he went upstairs he looked in her room to see if she was all right, and she wasn’t there! ‘’Have you checked the attic?’’ asks Lamont ‘’No, we never go there….But why the attic?’’ Because that’s where the mirror is.’’ Lamont says grimly.

They find Nancy Craig collapsed in front of the mirror, laughing quietly to herself. As they carry her to her room, she murmurs both laughing and crying, ‘’Poor old Clemons….funny old man…funny…green Clemons, green, green, green…and the room was red…and the furniture was so brown, brown, brown…poor old Clemons…he looked so funny in the mirror…’’

Lamont Cranston pays a visit to Clemons, as the Shadow. Poor Clemons lies in bed, moaning. The Shadow’s voice comes out of the darkness, demanding to know if he’s been pulling tricks on Nancy Craig. ‘’No..someone’s been playing…been playing…tricks…on me…’’ Clemons dies.

‘’It makes a certain amount of sense,’’ Lamont Cranston says a few minutes later, to the distraught John Craig. ‘’She saw Clemons in the mirror, that meant Clemons had to die. Perhaps she took care of…’’ ‘’You don’t believe that,’’ John protests. ‘’Have you any better explanation?’’ ‘’No-oh, but Nancy isn’t well, she hasn’t been well. She can’t be held responsible for anything she’s done….’’ Margot enters the room at this moment, and she and Lamont take their leave.

‘’Home, Lamont?’’ ‘’No. Upstate.’’ ‘’Upstate?’’ ‘’The town where Nancy’s father lived…and died. I want to find out how far that mirror can see.’’

The chief of police in the town is not very helpful, except that he points out that Nancy’s father was a very rich man. ‘’He came up here on a hunting trip, and died from falling off Eagle’s Nest Cliff. What he was doing there nobody knows. He might have fallen off, he might have been pushed. That’s all I know.’’ Lamont thanks him. As always, he has the last word. ‘’I think I know now whether he fell or was pushed.’’

‘’Just rest quietly, Nancy. I’ll be back in a minute.’’ Says the loving voice of her husband. He leaves, closing the door behind him. ‘’Now then, Nancy’s all settled…’’ There’s a gloating tone to his voice which isn’t lost on the invisible figure of the Shadow. ‘’CRAIG. JOHN CRAIG.’’ ‘’What. Who’s that?’’ ‘’COME WITH ME, CRAIG.’’ ‘’Whoo?’’ ‘’THE SHADOW OF GUILT, MURDERER’S FEAR.’’ The Shadow chuckles maniacally.

Craig protests, but follows the voice up to the attic. Craig looks at the mirror in the moonlight. ‘’WHAT DO YOU SEE IN THE MIRROR?’’ ‘’My face!’’ shrieks Craig. ‘’My own face in the mirror!’’ Craig admits to murdering Nancy’s father and Clemons, ‘’but I won’t hang! I’ll destroy the evidence! I’ll smash this wretched mirror into a thousand pieces!’’ And he does so. But the Shadow laughs. ‘’TOO LATE, CRAIG.’’ ‘’Too late! ‘’YES. THE MIRROR HAS ALREADY SHOWN YOU YOUR OWN REFLECTION…OF DEATH.’’

Lamont explains how he solved the crime to Margot. Craig had killed Nancy’s father and wanted to drive her insane so that he could have her inheritance all to himself. At the last Margot says, ‘’Yet he finally did see his own reflection, didn’t he?’’ ‘’Yes, and at that moment the murders came to an end. The end that comes to all murderers, before they die.’’


This is an excellent, atmospheric episode. All of the actors do well, but the actress playing the antique dealer is a standout. The musical bridges of organ music between each scene enhance the atmosphere.

From Alice going through the looking glass into Wonderland, and even earlier, mirrors have always been a source of myths and legends. A favorite book of mine has always been The Three Investigators and The Secret of The Haunted Mirror.

Although the names of the supporting cast aren’t given, if you listen to the episode often enough, you begin to suspect that the actor playing Clemons and the actor playing the Sheriff might be one and the same. The timbre and cadence of the Sheriff’s final phrase, ‘’That’s all I know,’’ sounds a bit reminiscent of the way Clemons had delivered some of his lines. Trying to figure out which actors, if any, are playing multiple roles in a radio program is one of the joys of the medium (especially since frequently the names of supporting actors aren’t announced.)

Why doesn’t Nancy simply call upstate New York to see if her father is all right? Well, he’d gone on a hunting trip – perhaps to a cabin that didn’t have a phone. Also, back in the 1940s, it was not so easy to call long distance.

According to the legend that Nancy told Lamont and Margot, if someone sees a face in the mirror – that person is going to die. It would have been more logical, therefore, for Lamont to have rushed to Clemon’s room with a doctor, rather than paying him a visit as The Shadow. He perhaps could have saved Clemons life!

1. The Dossier on The Shadow on Radio
2. Broadcasts today on When Radio Was
3. Jerry Haendiges'Complete Shadow episode log
4. The Shadow
5. The Shadow Zone
6. The Pulps: The Shadow

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