4 user 5 critic

The Phantom Strikes (1938)

The Gaunt Stranger (original title)
A suspense thriller with virtually the entire cast under suspicion of murder. In this, the third of at least 4 film versions of the Edgar Wallace story, John Longden plays the police ... See full summary »



(based on The Ringer by), (screen play)




Complete credited cast:
Maurice Meister
Cora Ann Milton
Dr Lomond
Peter Croft ...
John Lenley
Police Station Sergeant
Inspector Bliss
Mary Lenley
Arthur Hambling ...
Detective Sgt. Richards
Charles Eaton ...
Col. Walford


A suspense thriller with virtually the entire cast under suspicion of murder. In this, the third of at least 4 film versions of the Edgar Wallace story, John Longden plays the police inspector for the second time. The inspector and a police surgeon team up to find the killer who has just announced his (or her) intention to kill a lawyer. Written by Steve Crook <steve@brainstorm.co.uk>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Edgar Wallace's Greatest Thriller


Drama | Mystery


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Release Date:

15 November 1939 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Phantom Strikes  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

, ,  »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Photophone)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


Det. Insp. Alan Wembury: Scared Hackett?
Samuel Cuthbert 'Sam' Hackett: Oh no - I've always wanted to 'ave me throat cut, ever since I was a boy in velvet drawers...
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits of film are shown by a policeman directing his torchlight onto, what appear to be, theatre playbills. See more »


Version of Der Mann, der seinen Namen änderte (1958) See more »


from "Tristan und Isolde"
Music by Richard Wagner
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User Reviews

Excellent Edgar Wallace adaption will keep you guessing until the end
15 February 2007 | by See all my reviews

Adaptation of Edgar Wallace's "The Ringer" is a nifty little thriller. Boasting not only a neat little mystery it also has a game cast that sells the story.

The plot has a well known criminal lawyer is threatened by a master criminal known as the Ringer. The lawyer is not worried since the Ringer is believed to have died in Sydney Australia. However he begins to worry when he finds out that the flowers bearing the threat were ordered from a ship coming from Sydney. The Ringer it seems wants to exact revenge for the death of his sister who committed suicide because of the attorney. Add to the mix the police, Scotland yard, the wife of the Ringer, and several crooks who had dealing with the attorney's fencing operation and you have a movie where anyone could be the killer.

I really liked this thriller. An Ealing film, this film is clearly a kin to the later series of comedies that starred Alec Guinness. While most definitely not a comedy, it does have some very witty lines, solid performances and sharpness of construction of the sort that made the later films classics. I liked that every character, no matter how inconsequential makes an impression on you. Every cop, every passerby, every speaking part major and minor is a real person. When someone walks on screen you have a sense that this could be happening.

The script is filled with great exchanges between characters. The police surgeon has a wonderful way of putting people down or inferring he may know more than he is letting on. The jailbird, sprung because he knows what the Ringer looks like turns in some hysterical remarks in his vein attempt just to be sent back to prison where its safe.

The construction of the plot is better than most mysteries of the time. Its understandable why the source novel was used at least five times for movies. Its nice that the film is done in such a way that even though you may guess or suspect who the killer is, you will still harbor doubts until the final denouncement. There are enough plot-lines running through this story (all adequately explained) that its not easy to piece together everything thats going on at first glance. Better still its done in such away that you're engaged waiting for the next clue to pop up, there are no dead spots as the detectives wait to be moved to the next piece, things are always happening.

One of the better mysteries I've seen, this is heartily recommended for anyone who wants a good mystery with character.

Though I have to ask, if anyone figures out what the title means could you please let me know. since it seems to have been chosen at random to cover the source novel.

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