5.2/10
107
9 user 3 critic

The Phantom Express (1932)

A railway is threatened by mysterious wrecks, which turn out to be caused by criminals using a unique deception.

Director:

Writers:

(adaptation),
Reviews

Watch Now

Free at Internet Archive

ON DISC

Videos

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  

13 years before the movie opens, there was a dinner party, at which the 13th guest failed to show up. The master of the manner has died, and left the bulk of his estate to this 13th guest, ... See full summary »

Director: Albert Ray
Stars: Ginger Rogers, Lyle Talbot, J. Farrell MacDonald
Action | Adventure | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

A bank-robbery in London prevents - again - the marriage of Bulldog Drummond with his girlfriend. But this time when the delinquents are caught it will be celebrated at last.

Director: James P. Hogan
Stars: John Howard, Heather Angel, H.B. Warner
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

A private eye escapes his past to run a gas station in a small town, but his past catches up with him. Now he must return to the big city world of danger, corruption, double crosses and duplicitous dames.

Director: Jacques Tourneur
Stars: Robert Mitchum, Jane Greer, Kirk Douglas
Comedy | Horror | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.3/10 X  

An insurance investigator arrives at a creepy mansion to protect a millionaire who has had death threats made against him.

Director: Frank McDonald
Stars: Jack Haley, Jean Parker, Bela Lugosi
Crime | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

When a play's two producers are murdered, the playwright tries to solve the crime.

Director: Phil Rosen
Stars: Reginald Denny, Evelyn Brent, Jack La Rue
Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.6/10 X  

During a stormy night at an old dark mansion, people who claim to see ghosts roaming the halls are later found murdered.

Director: Frank R. Strayer
Stars: John Miljan, June Collyer, Richard Carle
Certificate: Passed Crime | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

A blind detective and his seeing-eye dog investigate a murder and discover a Nazi plot.

Director: Fred Zinnemann
Stars: Edward Arnold, Ann Harding, Donna Reed
Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.4/10 X  

A group of strangers are brought together in an old, dark house and must contend with two murders and $50,000 in stolen money.

Director: Sam Newfield
Stars: George Zucco, Wanda McKay, Noel Madison
Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.7/10 X  

A popular young student finds herself accused of a series of murders that have occurred on the college campus. Her boyfriend, a reporter for the local newspaper, knows she didn't do it, and and sets out to prove her innocence and catch the real killer.

Director: Richard Thorpe
Stars: Shirley Grey, Charles Starrett, J. Farrell MacDonald
Certificate: Passed Horror | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

Eight strangers are invited by a mysterious unknown host to spend the night in a penthouse apartment. The eight (5 men, 3 women) are wined, dined, then greeted by their host's voice via a ... See full summary »

Director: Roy William Neill
Stars: Donald Cook, Genevieve Tobin, Hardie Albright
Horror | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 3.3/10 X  

A newly married couple arrives at the home of the husband's late wife, where the gardens have been maintained by a gardener faithful to the dead woman's memory. Soon, eerie events lead the new wife to think she's losing her mind.

Director: Alex Nicol
Stars: John Hudson, Peggy Webber, Russ Conway
Comedy | Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

Hijinks and chills ensue when a group of people become stranded at an isolated station and a legendary phantom train approaches.

Director: Walter Forde
Stars: Arthur Askey, Richard Murdoch, Kathleen Harrison
Edit

Cast

Cast overview:
William Collier Jr. ...
...
Carolyn Nolan
J. Farrell MacDonald ...
D.J. 'Smokey' Nolan
Hobart Bosworth ...
Mr. Harrington
Axel Axelson ...
Axel - the Fireman
...
Betty
Eddie Phillips ...
Dick Walsh
Robert Ellis ...
Reynolds
...
Ma Nolan
David Rollins ...
Jackie Nolan
Tom O'Brien ...
Red Connelly - the Telegraph Operator
Huntley Gordon ...
President of Rival Railroad (as C. Huntley Gordon)
Brady Kline ...
Slim - a Thug
Jack Pennick ...
Bubba - a Thug
Edit

Storyline

An engineer at the throttle of a locomotive speeding through a tunnel sees the lights of a train approaching from the other end. Although the signals say the track is clear, he still sees the train's lights. He grinds the train to a halt, derailing it. He survives, but many passengers are killed. He is fired in disgrace, but sets out to prove his innocence by finding the "phantom express." Written by frankfob2@yahoo.com

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

train | railway | See All (2) »

Genres:

Mystery | Thriller

Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

15 August 1932 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Il lampo  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Photophone System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Never the Train Shall Meet
4 September 2005 | by (Kissimmee, Florida) – See all my reviews

THE PHANTOM EXPRESS (Majestic, 1932), written and directed by Emory Johnson, has the makings of a weekly chaptered serial told in only 65 minutes, short enough for any viewer not to lose his train of thought. The title that indicates a supernatural theme, it comes close to that as terror rides the rails, terror being some sort of mysterious ghost train. With William Collier Jr. heading the cast, this feature presentation relatively belongs to the third billed J. Farrell MacDonald in one of his few on-screen opportunities to play the central character. Interestingly, MacDonald assumed the role as a railroad engineer the very same year as the release of THE PHANTOM EXPRESS, a chaptered serial titled THE HURRICANE EXPRESS (Mascot Studios) starring John Wayne and Shirley Grey. With similar titles, it's understandable to get these two movies confused.

The story begins with D.J. "Smokey" Nolan (J. Farrell MacDonald), a veteran engineer of the Southern Pacific Railroad, running his locomotive "101" through the darkness of the night accompanied by his friend and partner, Axel (Axel Axelson). The signal lights tell him that the track is clear, but suddenly Smokey notices a headlight of another train directly ahead, forcing him to put the train into an immediate halt, pulling much of the attached railroad cars off its tracks. Following this incident, the headlight suddenly dims out. Accused of negligence, Smokey appears before John Harrington (Hobart Bosworth), the railroad president. Later, four more similar wrecks occur, Harrington finds himself pressured in selling out his railroad line, which causes Smokey dismissal from duty. In the meantime, Harrington's son, Bruce (William Collier Jr.), a pampered youth whose idea of responsibility is sleeping all day and dining with young ladies at night, surprises his serious-minded father by volunteering to investigate the mystery of the "Phantom Express" mainly for the purpose of becoming more acquainted with Smokey's attractive daughter, Carolyn (Sally Blane). Assuming the name of Bruce Smith and having his friend Dick Walsh (Eddie Phillips) pretending to be him by acting as railroad assistant, Bruce acquires the position as railroad mechanic, gets to room and board in the Nolan household and becomes better acquainted with Carolyn (sometimes addressed by Smokey as Caroline). During his investigation, Bruce realizes he's on the right track as he stumbles upon an amazing discovery.

The supporting players includes David Rollins as Jack Nolan, Smokey's younger son; Claire McDowell as Mrs. Nolan; Lina Basquette (star of Cecil B. DeMille's THE GODLESS GIRL in 1929) briefly appearing as Collier's temperamental girlfriend, Betty; Tom Wilson as James Callahan, and Jack Pennick, C. Huntley Gordon, among others. Axel Axelson, who performs his task in typical Swedish fashion, accent and all, gives a performance that echoes the likes of the more familiar John Qualen, who might have assumed the part in that fashion had he been cast. The second billed Sally Blane (Loretta Young's sister), has little to do in this mystery, but performs well in what she is given as Collier's love interest and kidnap victim.

A poverty-row mystery with a neat ending twist, THE PHANTOM EXPRESS is surprisingly good in theme and action, however, occasionally comes off a little weak with some of its typical 1930s dialog and somewhat laughable staged fist fights between hero and villain. Aside from these minor faults, it's most notable scene occurs midway as Smokey (MacDonald) returns home to be surprised by a birthday party from his family (hundreds of candles on the cake and miniature train on track circling around the table), and unable to tell the bad news of his dismissal. Shortly after leaving the event, Smokey finds himself alone in his bedroom to grief and glaring at an old picture frame as he cries and laughs at the same time, causing him to throw and break the frame as it crashes onto the floor. All this is underscored with the use of violins. Quite original and effective.

After many years of obscurity with limited reissues, THE PHANTOM EXPRESS, became one of many public domain titles distributed onto video cassette in the 1980s, as well as getting some exposure during the after midnight hours on various TV channels during its early years of cable television, appearing on such networks as Christian Broadcast Network, Tempo and Channel America, before disappearing from the airwaves. A movie like THE PHANTOM EXPRESS might not be worthy of 15 academy award nominations, but is an interesting look back at the sort of programmers produced by independent film studios during the bygone 1930s, and something of interest mainly for its concept, if nothing else. All Aboard!!!!! (**)


19 of 20 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Discuss The Phantom Express (1932) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?