Professor Davidson (Frank Shannon) and his daughter Diana (Jeanne Bates)search Africa for the Lost City of Zoloz, reputed to be the source of a large hidden treasure. Also searching is a ... See full summary »
The nefarious Dr. Fu Manchu searches for the keys to the tomb of Genghis Khan, in order to fulfill a prophecy that will enable him to conquer the world. His nemesis, Dr. Nayland Smith, and ... See full summary »
Professor Davidson (Frank Shannon) and his daughter Diana (Jeanne Bates)search Africa for the Lost City of Zoloz, reputed to be the source of a large hidden treasure. Also searching is a local crook, Singapore Smith (Joe Devlin), and Dr. Max Bremmer (Kenneth MacDonald, a Nazi agent who plans to destroy the peace in which the native tribes have been living and build a secret German air base at Zoloz. But Diana's fiancé Godfrey Prescott (Tom Tyler), who is also The Phantom, feared and respected by the natives as The Ghost Who Walks, circumvents the traps and schemes of the villains. Written by
Les Adams <email@example.com>
Chapter Titles: 1. The Sign of the Skull 2. The Man Who Never Dies 3. A Traitor's Code 4. The Seat of Judgement 5. The Ghost Who Walks 6. Jungle Whispers 7. The Mystery Well 8. In Quest of the Keys 9. The Fire Princess 10. The Chamber of Death 11. The Emerald Key 12. The Fangs of the Beast 13. The Road to Zoloz 14. The Lost City 15. Peace in the Jungle See more »
Columbia Pictures was infamous for making infamously bad serials. However, in the early to mid-1940's, they also made some good serials. One of these was called 'The Phantom.' Here are some of the things that make this serial so good:
1. Tom Tyler in the title role. He projected a strong and quietly heroic screen presence, and was athletic enough to look good in the Phantom suit. He is believable in the fight scenes. Superhero suits look good in comic strips, but usually on the screen they look completely stupid. Tom Tyler, a former champion weight lifter, could pull it off. He was also a decent actor. Totally serious, but never camp or inadvertently goofy. I rate him as being almost as good as Buster Crabbe, as far as serial heroes go. Definitely head and shoulders above Kirk Alyn or either of the poor guys that played Batman in the serials. 2. Good fight scenes. 3. Ace the Wonder Dog, playing 'Devil,' the Phantom's dog (in the comic strip, Devil was a wolf, but trained wolves were more expensive). All the great heroes each have certain gimmicks, trademarks, special weapons, etc. Such is Devil for the Phantom, and the idea of the hero being aided in a fight by a big dog is a cool idea. Devil definitely makes the fight scenes more interesting and believable here. 4. Good cliff hangers. 5. Staying reasonably faithful to the original source material. Although taking some serious liberties regarding the comic strip from whence it was inspired, this serial still retains the spirit and appeal of the Lee Falk's creations. Rightly so, the Phantom is a cool character, and should be treated with a little respect.
And now, a short commentary regarding racial stereotypes: in my mind, it has always been problematic that in the comics, the Phantom is an unelected pale-skinned person holding a high degree of authority for a large group of darker-skinned persons. To be fair, the Phantom was created in the 1930's, when there was a lot of overt racism in the U.S., when Lee Falk and most of his readers wouldn't have had anyone to point out this inequity. And to be fair, Lee Falk's representation of African tribes, though entirely fanciful, was much less derogatory than that of Edgar ('Tarzan') Rice Burroughs or of any mainstream Hollywood movie.
Which brings us back to this serial. While all the action takes place in the jungle, there are no positive indications as to whether this jungle is in Africa, South America, Asia, the Canary Islands, or southern Albania. Nor is there any coherent racial representation regarding the natives of this imaginary region. Many were played by Caucasian actors, some by Native Americans (an unbilled Jay Silverheels played a small role), as well as actors of other ethnicities. Overall, their skin color is not much, if any, darker than the Phantom's. Also, the characterization of the natives in this serial, while often fitting an unflattering stereotype, is much less offensive than you see in Tarzan and Jungle Jim films of the same era.
The plot involves a lost city called Zoloz, which is an allusion to the Lost City of Z, which is a fabelled ancient lost city in South America, for which several real-life explorers lost their lives in quest of. It was never found, so someday maybe you may go looking for it. Perhaps you will find the Phantom as well.
All in all, I would recommend this for serial fans, film buffs, and admirers of the Phantom.
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