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The Phantom Empire (1935)

Approved | | Musical, Sci-Fi, Western | 23 February 1935 (USA)
When the ancient continent of Mu sank beneath the ocean, some of its inhabitant survived in caverns beneath the sea. Cowboy singer Gene Autry stumbles upon the civilization, now buried ... See full summary »


, (as Breezy Easton)


(story), (story) | 3 more credits »

On Disc

at Amazon



Complete credited cast:
Betsy Baxter
Dorothy Christy ...
Lord Argo
Prof. Beetson (as Frank Glendon)
Oscar (as Lester 'Smiley' Burnett)
Peter Potter ...
Pete (as William Moore)
Cooper (as Edward Piel Sr.)
Jack Carlyle ...


When the ancient continent of Mu sank beneath the ocean, some of its inhabitant survived in caverns beneath the sea. Cowboy singer Gene Autry stumbles upon the civilization, now buried beneath his own Radio Ranch. The Muranians have developed technology and weaponry such as television and ray guns. Their rich supply of radium draws unscrupulous speculators from the surface. The peaceful civilization of the Muranians is corrupted by the greed from above, and it becomes Autry's task to prevent all-out war, ideally without disrupting his regular radio show. Written by Jim Beaver <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


A Nation 20,000 Feet Underground


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

23 February 1935 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Gene Autry and the Phantom Empire  »

Box Office


$70,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


(12 episodes)

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


There is an alternate, rarely seen, version of this film in which Gene Autry is absent from the last part of the film. The plot reaches the same conclusion. Reportedly, Autry was not available at first, due to other commitments. The scenes in question were later re-shot when he was available. See more »


Queen Tika: Gene Autry! How do you like our world?
Gene Autry: I think the dampness and dead air of your land is more suited for rats and moles.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening Credit: Featuring the Scientific City of Murania. See more »


Featured in Action Heroes of the Cliffhanger Serials (1992) See more »


Music by Henry Hadley
[used as a theme for Murania]
See more »

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User Reviews

Bucketheads to the rescue!
16 January 2004 | by (Spokane, WA) – See all my reviews

Gene Autry was already a radio star when he went to Hollywood in the early '30s. Naturally, since Autry was known as "the Singing Cowboy," his first starring role was in a sci-fi serial about an underground civilization. One might think that this was a brave example of casting against type; in fact, Autry plays exactly the same character he would continue to play on film and TV for the next twenty years: "Gene Autry, the Singing Cowboy."

With a premise like this, one would expect THE PHANTOM EMPIRE to be thoroughly goofy. And one would be right. It doesn't help matters that the serial is directed exclusively to children, without even a nod or wink at the adult audience. Also, the cliffhanger cheat factor is fairly high, mostly involving added footage of the escapes which completely distorts what we saw in the previous chapter (this would, of course, have been somewhat less obvious when seeing only one chapter a week and not having a rewind button).

But if you're a connoisseur of cinematic goofiness, or if you're interested in B-Westerns and SF serials of the 30s, or if you have a burning desire to see Smiley Burnette in drag, you should check this one out. The Alpha DVD release, as others have said, is pretty poor (the worst Alpha DVDs I've seen, in fact), but if you can get through the first two chapters, the quality improves marginally (there does seem to have been some restoration work done on the print used--mainly with Scotch tape).

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