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The Phantom

USA 1943
produced by
Rudolph C. Flothow for Columbia
directed by B. Reeves Eason
starring Tom Tyler, Jeanne Bates, Kenneth MacDonald, Frank Shannon, Joe Devlin, Ernie Adams, Pat O'Malley, Joe Bagni, Stanley Price, Wade Crosby, George Chesebro, Edmund Cobb, John Indrisano, I.Stanford Jolley, Paul Marion, Kermit Maynard, Dan White, Pierce Lyden, Sol Gorss, Al Hill, Robert Barron, Anthony Caruso, Early Cantrell, Ángel Cruz, Guy Kingsford, John Maxwell, Lal Chand Mehra, Paul Newlan, Eddie Parker, Alex Havier, Ernesto Morelli, Anthony Warde, Jay Silverheels, Dick Curtis, Reed Howes, Iron Eyes Cody, Al Ferguson, Ace the Wonder Dog
screenplay by Leslie Swabacker, Morgan Cox, Victor McLeod, Sherman L.Lowe, based on the comic strip created by Lee Falk, Ray Moore, published by King Features, music by Lee Zahler

serial
Phantom

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Somewhere in deepest Africa (where all the natives are white): Geoffrey Prescott (Tom Tyler) is to join the safari/treasure hunt of professor Davidson (Frank Shannon), father of his fiancée Diana (Jeanne Bates), when he learns about the death of his father. You see, Prescott's father was the Phantom, the almost mythical and allegedly immortal (the title is in fact passed on from father to son) masked man whose rule over the jungle keeps the peace between the native tribes ... and since daddy is dead, the mask is passed on to the son.

The Phantom though is not without opponents, especially foreign agent Doctor Bremmer (Kenneth MacDonald), who at all costs wants to break the Phantom's rule over the natives and ultimately turn the natives' land into secret airbase. On the other hand, there's Singapore Smith (Joe Devlin), who has learned about professor Davidson's treasure hunt, and he will stop at nothing to get the treasure map, and once he has it in his hands, he blames Prescott (who's off playing the Phantom) for its theft. Eventually though, Smith is killed by Bremmer's men, who want to keep whoever it is from finding the treasure that's supoposed to be in the mittle of their proposed airfield ...

Anyways, from now on, Prescott/the Phantom has his hands full trying to keep professor Davidson's expedition out of trouble, prove his (Prescott's) innocence concerning the theft of the map, and keeping the natives quiet.

What follows are the usual jungle-themed chases and fist-fights and the Phantom having to face pretty much every peril of the jungle in the book, from wild animals to quicksand, from a phony Fire Princess (Early Cantrell) to collapsing rope bridges to whatever else thrown at him.

Finally, at a midieval castle ruled by Tartar (Dick Curtis) in the middle of the jungle, the Phantom finds the missing piece of the professor's treasure map ... but has to retrieve it from the neck of a gorilla he has to fight in Tartar's arena - of course, the Phantom succeeds.

Finally, the professor's expedition makes it to the secret entrance to the hidden city their treasure is supposed to be at - but they have a traitor among their ranks, Byron (Guy Kingsford), who gives Bremmer an advance warning for a bigger share in the treasure - and Bremmer supposes blowing up the mines the Phantom and company are searching for the treasure should put a permanent end to his foe's actions against him. Then he makes up one of his henchmen as the Phantom and uses him to influence the natives in his interest ... but unfortunately, one of Bremmer's allies, chief Chota (Stanley Prince), doesn't know about Bremmer's deceit and kills the false Phantom by blowdart - and from here on it's not long before the actual Phantom arrives, overcomes Bremmer and sets everything right again.

 

The Phantom is certainly no great serial, but it's alright - especially by Columbia's standards, as their serials were always far from great. Of course, the lack of black natives in an Africa-based story is annoying, but the wild, unreflexive mix of costumes for the different tribes, as is the naivity of The Phantom's storyline as such. So while the whole thing might not be great, prepare to at least be entertained!

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Thanks for watching !!!

 

 

Robots and rats,
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Tales to Chill
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
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WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD