The Shadow of the Eagle

The Eagle uses sky writing to make threats against a corporation. Nathan Gregory owns a traveling fairground and is thought to be the Eagle. Craig McCoy is a pilot who goes looking for the Eagle when Gregory turns up missing.

The Shadow of the Eagle (aka Shadow of the Eagle) is a 1932 American Pre-Code Mascot 12 episode film serial, directed by Ford Beebe and B. Reeves Eason and produced by Nat Levine. The film stars John Wayne in his first serial role. He would go on to star in two other serials for Mascot, The Hurricane Express (1932) and The Three Musketeers (1933).

Colonel Nathan B. “Skipper” Gregory (Edward Hearn), a former World War I ace pilot, is the owner of a travelling carnival, that has fallen on hard times. Only the money brought in by Craig McCoy (John Wayne), the carnival stunt pilot, keeps the carnival from closing. Jean Gregory (Dorothy Gulliver), Colonel Gregory’s daughter, works with Craig as a wing walker and parachutist.

A mysterious pilot, the legendary “Eagle”, thought to have been shot down by accident by his own squadron and killed in the war, attempts to sabotage the Evans Aero Co., a large corporation, sending threatening messages to the company’s five directors via skywriting, the date that the “Eagle” was shot down: May 23, 1918. Gregory is thought to be the Eagle because he has a grudge against the company who stole plans for a radio-piloted aircraft. Suspicions also fall on Craig McCoy (John Wayne), the carnival stunt pilot, who is also skilled in skywriting and had left the message about the “Eagle” after being paid by an anonymous source.

Craig goes looking for the “Eagle”, with a new suspect, Mr. Green (Lloyd Whitlock), a director of the corporation and a pilot who flew in the same squadron as the “Eagle”, the likely culprit who stole plans to Gregory’s invention. When confronted, Green escapes and teams up with two compatriots, Tim Moore {Bud Osborne} and Boyle (Yakima Canutt) but Craig grabs the plans and rushes back to the carnival to show Jean.

Gregory, who is confined to a wheelchair tries to hide from the authorities. Someone steels Craig’s aircraft and tries to burn down the carnival. Hoping to prove her father’s innocence, the pair then learn of Gregory’s disappearance, captured by the henchmen of the “Eagle”. A murder occurs at the corporation and Gregory is again implicated.

Jean still thinks that her father is innocent and with Craig, escapes death on many occasions, fighting with gang members, as they go after the real “Eagle”. Craig enlist the aid of the carnival’s midget (“Little Billy”), strongman (Ivan Linow) and ventriloquist (James Bradbury Jr.) to track down the criminal. Craig unmasks the evildoer and brings the ordeal to an end.

John Wayne as Craig McCoy
Edward Hearn as Colonel Nathan B. Gregory
Dorothy Gulliver as Jean Gregory, Colonel Gregory’s daughter
Richard Tucker as Major Evans, company owner
Ivan Linow as Heinie, the carnival strongman
James Bradbury Jr. as Henry, the carnival ventriloquist
Ernie Adams as Frederick “Pat” Kelly, the carnival barker
Billy West as Bob the Clown
Lloyd Whitlock as Green, a director
Walter Miller as Danby, a director
Edmund Burns as Clark, a director
Pat O’Malley as Ames, a director
Kenneth Harlan as Ward, a director
“Little Billy” as the Midget
Roy D’Arcy as Gardner
Bud Osborne as Tim Moore
Yakima Canutt as Boyle
Monte Montague as Policeman Callahan
Murdock MacQuarrie as Frank the Watchman (uncredited)

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