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The Phantom of the West

USA 1931
produced by
Nat Levine for Mascot
directed by D.Ross Lederman
starring Tom Tyler, Dorothy Gulliver, William Desmond, Tom Santschi, Philo McCullough, Frank Lanning, Tom Dugan, Joe Bonomo, Frank Hagney, Halie Sullivan, Kermit Maynard, Dick Dickinson, James Carlyle, W.J.Holmes
written by Wyndham Gittens, Ford L. Beebe, Bennett Dohen, musical director: Lee Zahler


review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Jim Lester (Tom Tyler) hides an escaped convict from a posse, only to later learn he is exactly the man is Cortez (Frank Lanning), the very man accused of the murder of his parents. But by the time he learns this, Cortez is long gone, but he leaves behind a note, stating his innocence but claiming he is going to look for the real killer of Jim's parents, who is one of 7 honourable citizens in a nearby town.

To find the killer of his parents - be it Cortez or anybody else - Jim goes to that town himself, to see the whole town and especially the 7 honourable citizens terrorized by the mysterious Phantom and his gang of masked riders, and really, the 7 honourable citizens start to die like flies. Suspects of being the Phantom are Cortez (of course)or  Mary (Dorothy Gulliver), who seems to be around everytime the Phantom kills someone or throws a dart with a message and who is really Cortez' daughter, unbeknowest to everyone.

At one time, Jim is even suspected to be the Phantom himself by our honourable citizens, but ultimately they hire him to track down the Phantom, which is not such a good idea because at least one of them is dealing a crooked hand ...

In the end, after massive horseriding, fistfuights and shoot-outs, 2 of our honourable citizens, Blair (William Desmond) and Macklin (Philo McCullough) are revealed as gangsters and prime suspects in the murder of Foster's father, with Blair being revealed to be the killer in the end. On the other hand, 2 of those killed by the Phantom, Hollister (James Carlyle) and Johnson (W.J.Holmes) turn up alive and blame their almost-deaths on Blair as well. And to everybody's surprise, the Phantom is revealed to be the stuttering, klutzy, cowardly comedy relief Oscar (Tom Dugan), who is actually the half brother of Blair wanting to cut in on his wealth. 

And the Phantom's ghostriders ?

Actually there were two such gangs, none of them linked to the Phantom: one was the Sheriff (Frank Hagney) and his men trying to lure the Phantom out into the open, the other was Blair's men trying to fool everybody, including the Phantom ...


An early talkie serial, which is quite obvious at times, with many of the actors still acting as if in silents and being not too easy with the microphone. Furthermore, the whole thing is a bit too constructed to remain believable, and the solution of the mystery in the end is nothing short of silly. But then again, the serial features enough action (a Mascot trademark), a masked killer, an engaging mystery story  and plenty of ever-popular pulp trappings to make one forget its shortcomings. Quite simply put, it's fun.


review © by Mike Haberfelner


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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

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

out now on DVD