Cast & Crew
While practicing his swing at a local golf course, gardening tools salesman Fred J. Johnson hits a hole-in-one. He decides to memorialize the achievement by writing his initials and the date on the ball, but on the next hole, hits it into a nearby drainage ditch. When he climbs down to retrieve the ball, he finds a corpse lying next to a small package. After pocketing the package, which contains printer's plates for counterfeit money, Fred overhears murderer Tony Montague talking excitedly to his wife Edna. Fred quickly hides, while Tony finds his ball and realizes that "F. J." has stolen their package. Guessing that the thief is within earshot, Tony shouts out a warning that Fred and his entire family will be killed if he goes to the police. Approaching sirens then force Tony and Edna to flee, while Fred returns home to his daughters Ginny and Carol. At their hideout, Tony and Edna are scolded by their boss, Lefty, for losing the package, which had the address of the print shop tucked inside. Fred, meanwhile, opens the package, but Tony's threat keeps him from phoning the police. The next morning, newspapers report that the corpse has been discovered. Later, while Carol goes out with banker Mark Bellaman, Fred notices that his elk's tooth charm is missing from his watch chain. Meanwhile, Ginny and her boyfriend, Lester Binkey, who are fascinated by the murder, go to the golf course, where Ginny finds the charm. Posing as an investigator, Tony obtains from the groundskeeper a list of the golfers who played the previous day. When a real investigator approaches Ginny, she runs toward the groundskeeper and asks for the location of the nearest bus stop. Tony asks Ginny her name, then realizes that she must be Fred's daughter and, claiming to be her father's friend, gives her a ride home. Later, Fred goes to a mailbox planning to mail the plates to the police anonymously, but Lefty, who has followed him, threatens Ginny's life. After Lt. Braden asks Ginny what she found at the golf course, she gives him the charm. He then questions Fred, who acts so guilty that he instructs an investigator named Sellers to follow him. That evening, Fred goes to his office, while Lester and Ginny attend a dance. Lester takes Ginny home, after which she is kidnapped by the gang. Lefty, Tony and Edna then go to Fred's office and threaten to kill Ginny unless he turns over the plates. Fred insists that Ginny be first brought safely to the office, but even after she arrives, he still refuses to turn over the plates. Furious, Tony draws his gun, while a conscience-stricken Edna rushes to the window and calls for help. After Tony shoots her in the back, Fred knocks him out with a large gardening tool, while Lefty flees into Seller's waiting arms. The next day, the newspapers hail Fred as a hero.
Paul E. Burns
Where the B-movies of the Poverty Row studios often showed their threadbare budgets, Columbia put the studio resources at the disposal of their programmers, from standing sets and locations to costumes and technical support. They reliably turned out entertaining and often good-looking low-budget genre pictures and second features for double bills and, while they utilized the talents of former stars and filmmakers past their glory days, they also used the productions to nurture new talent.
Anita Louise, once the glamorous star of such glossy Warner Bros. costume dramas as Madame Du Barry (1934), where she played Marie Antoinette, A Midsummer Night's Dream (1935) and The Story of Louis Pasteur (1936), receives top billing in this 70-minute picture and brings a touch of glamour and star power to the film. But her role as Fred's eldest daughter doesn't give her much to do and she spends the film fretting over her nervous father and playing stand-in mother for her younger sister. Helen Koford, a former juvenile actress who had small roles in Gaslight (1944) and Son of Lassie (1945), was 16 when she played the excitable little sister whose crime-obsessed boyfriend fills her head with ideas of "femme fatales" and "crime passionnel." Koford would soon change her name to Terry Moore and star in the cult classic Mighty Joe Young (1949) and Come Back, Little Sheba (1952), where she earned an Academy Award nomination for her supporting performance.
Shadowed marks the second feature for John Sturges, a young director who had apprenticed as an editor before landing in the director's chair making military training films during World War II. The film was produced in 1946 (under the working title The Gloved Hand), as Hollywood crime movies took on increasingly cynical attitudes and a style defined by shadows, extreme angles and characters plunged into darkness. There's little of that existential cynicism in this breezy mix of humor and suspense but Sturges brings some noir visual style to the production. In the opening scenes, as Fred comes across a corpse and overhears the murderers conspiring, the camera shoots from above and through slats of a railroad bridge, dramatizing the precarious situation while effectively hiding the faces of the killers, seen only as feet and hands. As the criminals and the cops both circle the hapless witness, the scenes shift to night and the lighting casts shadows across the sets. All in a film shot on a two-week schedule and with a low budget. Moore, interviewed years later by Sturges biographer Glenn Lovell, recalled that "we did nearly everything in one take," but also remembered Sturges as "rough and tumble, but eloquent, a real gentleman."
Sturges soon graduated from B-pictures and went on to make some excellent crime thrillers - among them Mystery Street (1950) with Ricardo Montalban and Jeopardy (1953) with Barbara Stanwyck, but he found his greatest success with such iconic Westerns as Bad Day at Black Rock (1955), Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957) and The Magnificent Seven (1960). He also directed the muscular all-star action epic The Great Escape (1963). That B-movie apprenticeship sure paid off for Sturges.
Escape Artist: The Life and Films of John Sturges, Glenn Lovvell. University of Wisconsin Press, 2008.
AFI Catalog of Feature Films
By Sean Axmaker
The working title of this film was The Gloved Hand. According to a May 1946 Hollywood Reporter news item, Wallace MacDonald was to replace Leon Barsha as producer after Barsha left Columbia to work at Universal. In June 1946, Hollywood Reporter announced that Leslie Brooks was set to play the role of "Carol Johnson." According to a July 1946 Hollywood Reporter news item, Columbia obtained special permission from the Treasury Department to photograph genuine and counterfeit money for use in the publicity and exploitation of the film, a practice normally prohibited in films. The Treasury Department also granted authority to the Secret Service to set up exhibitions in theater lobbies dealing with techniques of detecting counterfeit money.