Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

THE PHANTOM (1943)


THE PHANTOM (1943). 15 chapter Columbia serial. Director: B. Reeves Eason.

Tom Tyler (Adventures of Captain Marvel) stars as The Phantom, or more accurately, the son of the aged original Phantom who has him take over when he's downed by a poison blow dart. In addition to some scientists searching for a lost city containing a treasure – the map has been divided into seven sections – The Phantom has to contend with a bunch of murderous gunrunners, not to mention the usual native uprisings. The Phantom leaves a skull mark on the cheeks of those he defeats in battle and can create illusions in the minds of his foes. We are also introduced to the most unprepossessing jungle “goddess” --actually a fire princess – ever seen in the movies; it turns out that she's a phony and is actually a cheap dancer. There are some more than acceptable cliffhangers – an alligator approaches The Phantom as he struggles to escape quicksand, and there's a battle high on a rope bridge which snaps – and some intriguing cinematic interplay between a quick-killing gunsel and his very angry – and equally homicidal – employer. All in all, however, The Phantom is a bit disappointing and is only a fair-to-middling serial. Jeanne Bates is the heroine. Tyler is not bad at all as The Phantom. He also played the mummy in The Mummy's Hand.
Verdict: Has its moments. **1/2.

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