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Phantom Rancher (1940)

Cowboy puts on a black mask and a black outfit to fight a gang of land-grabbing crooks.


Harry L. Fraser (as Harry Fraser)


William Lively (story) (as Bill Lively), William Lively (screenplay) (as Bill Lively)

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Complete credited cast:
Ken Maynard ... Ken Mitchell
Dorothy Short Dorothy Short ... Ann Markham
Harry Harvey ... Gopher
Ted Adams ... Collins
Dave O'Brien ... Lucke - Henchman
Tom London ... Sheriff Parker
John Elliott ... Dad Markham
Reed Howes ... Lon - Burton Foreman
Steve Clark ... Burton
Carl Mathews Carl Mathews ... Hank - Henchman (as Karl Mathews)
James Sheridan James Sheridan ... Joe - Henchman (as Sherry Tansey)
Tarzan Tarzan ... Tarzan


Ken Mitchell arrives to take possession of a ranch left to him by his Uncle Jim. He meets and falls in love with Ann Markham, whose father has been killed by gunmen of rancher Collins, who schemes to gain possession of all the surrounding ranches by foreclosing on their mortgages. Ken is distrusted as his Uncle was unpopular with the local ranchers. Knowing who killed Markham, Ken disguises himself as a masked rider and interrupts Collins' plots continually. As himself, he pretends to go along with the Collins plot to drive a herd of cattle over certain lands, ruining the pastures and, as the masked rider, he visits the ranchers to give them the money needed to pay of their mortgages Written by Les Adams <longhorn1939@suddenlink.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

mortgage | ranch | cowboy | scheme | gang | See All (22) »




Romance | Western


Approved | See all certifications »






Release Date:

31 March 1940 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Der geheimnisvolle Reiter See more »


Box Office


$15,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Colony Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


This is one of four Ken Maynard films sold by Colony Pictures in 1940 to the National Broadcasting Company to be telecast on New York's first television station, W2XBS; its earliest documented television broadcast occurred Saturday 8 November 1941 on WNBT (Channel 1), and it was re-broadcast Sunday 10 May 1942 on the same station. See more »


Henchman Luke: What are you doin' around here?
Ken Mitchell: Tracin' a 32-20 rifle. I'd like to shake hands with the man who killed Markham. 32-20s do a nice neat job.
Henchman Luke: Oh, yeah? The Mitchells are awful smart.
Ken Mitchell: Think I don't know the crack of a 32-20 when I hear it?
Henchman Luke: I'll say you don't. I use a 30-30!
Ken Mitchell: [pulls out a 30-30 slug from his shirt pocket] Thanks for admittin' it.
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User Reviews

How did Ken Maynard ever get to be a cowboy lead?
29 December 2005 | by dbfirelo2See all my reviews

I've seen about a half dozen of the low budget poverty row B westerns that Ken Maynard made in the 1930s, and I am consistently amazed at how poor an actor he was. How did he ever get to be a leading cowboy actor? They say that he could ride pretty well back in the silents, but he doesn't do anything particularly impressive in these later sound films. Still, maybe he got the leads because he was big and could ride.

Phantom Rancher isn't as bad as some of the other Ken Maynard films I've seen, but it still isn't much. Some of the other characters refer to him a couple of times as a "young fella," where it appears to me that he's just as old as the other older actors.

And if that's not silly enough, there's a rather significant script problem in this film. At one point, one of the characters makes a remark about how the phantom had prevented the poisoning of a well, something that hadn't happened yet. Just a couple of minutes later, we then see that particular scene. No, it wasn't a flashback. At first I thought perhaps that when Treeline Films was doing the DVD transfer, they might have reversed two of the reels. But in those days film reels contained approximately 11 minutes of film, and the whole reversal only took about 3 or 4 minutes tops. Everything else was in a logical order. So, it looks like that was a genuine continuity problem in the original film. Maybe that's one reason why Colony Pictures didn't last very long.

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