The Phantom Cowboy (1935) - Plot Summary Poster


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  • Bill Collins meets up with his look-alike the Phantom and is soon involved in his fight with Buck Houston. Houston has a big robbery planned but the Phantom beats him to it. Bill fights off Houston's men only to find the Phantom shot and dying and unaware that Houston is about to finish him off also.


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  • While cowboy Bill Collins and his sidekick, Ptomaine Pete, are out riding the range, they spot a runaway stagecoach and Bill goes to the rescue. The grateful passengers, Jack Rogers and his pretty sister Ruth, tell Bill that the stage had been robbed by a masked bandit, and Bill surmises that the culprit is the infamous "Phantom Cowboy," for whom a $1,000 reward is being offered.

    Bill and Pete head over to the swimming hole, but when they emerge, they discover that their clothing and horses have been stolen. They make their way to an isolated farmhouse, where they are offered refuge by a kindly stranger who bears a striking resemblance to Bill. When Bill spots Jack Roger's lighter on a table, he realizes that he and Pete are in the Phantom's lair. When confronted, the stranger admits to being the Phantom and offers to return Bill and Pete's clothes and horses in exchange for a small favor from Bill. Claiming to be an honest prospector who only robs stagecoaches when desperate, the Phantom asks Bill to circulate around nearby Canyon City for a few days, posing as the unmasked Phantom and thereby diverting suspicion that he is responsible for the latest string of robberies. Bill agrees to the plan after the Phantom promises to pay him handsomely for his cooperation.

    In Canyon City, Bill is surprised to see Ruth waiting on tables in the dance hall owned by the cruel and lecherous Buck Huston. Ruth explains that she was lured to the town by an offer of a job as schoolteacher, but when she arrived, realized she had been deceived. Bill then returns Jack's lighter to Ruth, telling her that he found it in the hills. Jack, distraught over his sister's situation and determined to raise enough money to send her back home, becomes involved in Huston's plot to rob the safe of a local rancher with the aid of the rancher's crooked foreman.

    Jack, an expert safe cracker, is to open the safe prior to the arrival of Huston's henchmen, but when the gang arrives, they find the safe cleaned out and Jack's lighter nearby on the floor. Jack, having had second thoughts about participating in the crime, has alerted the sheriff, but Huston's men elude the posse. After learning that he has been double-crossed, a furious Huston threatens Jack and Ruth, but they are rescued by Bill and Pete and given refuge in Bill's cabin. Huston then learns that it was the Phantom, and not Jack, who beat his gang to the rancher's safe.

    Determined to collect the reward for the Phantom, dead or alive, and recover the stolen money, Huston and his gang set out after him. A shoot-out ensues, during which Bill is mistaken for the Phantom; however, in the end the true Phantom and Huston, who have had a longstanding feud, kill each other. The dying Phantom apologizes for having set Jack up for the safe robbery and, keeping his promise to reward Bill for impersonating him, offers his secret gold mine as a wedding present for Bill and Ruth.

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