The Phantom (1943 movie serial)

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The Phantom is a classic Columbia Pictures cliffhanger serial from 1943, starring Tom Tyler in the title role. The serial is based on Lee Falk's comic strip "The Phantom". The serial also features Jeanne Bates as the Phantom's girlfriend Diana Palmer, and Ace, the Wonder Dog as Devil.

In 1955, Columbia Pictures filmed a sequel to The Phantom, this time with John Hart in the lead role (Tom Tyler had passed away in 1954). However, due to licencing issues with King Features Syndicate, the owner of the character, the entire serial was re-shot and re-named The Adventures of Captain Africa.

Plot

Young Geoffrey Prescott takes over the mantle of The Phantom, a seemingly immortal man, from his dying father, and must thwart the evil Doctor Bremmer's plans to find the lost city of Zoloz, where the doctor intends to build a hidden airbase. To find Zoloz, the Phantom and Bremmer are both searching for pieces of a map that will lead them to the secret city, which is hidden deep in the jungle.

As in all serials, the hero has to fight his way through a path of many dangerous traps and set-ups. Every episode ends with an exciting cliffhanger, where the hero finds himself in great danger.

Reaction

Described as "terrible" by Phantom creator Lee Falk, the serial changes a number of elements for the Phantom strip for no apparent reason. The Phantom's alter ego is changed from Kit Walker to Geoffrey Prescott and the adventure takes place in Sai Pan, not Bangalla and Devil is played by a German shepherd. Regardless, some Phantom Phans enjoy the series. Frew publisher Jim Shepherd claims on the DVD commentary of the serial that he prefers it to the 1996 big-budget film. Other Phans agree with Mr. Falk.

Cast

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 the 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

Production

Like most serials, the film had a relatively low budget. In the serial, the Phantom's real name is Geoffrey Prescott, while in the comic strip, his real name is Kit Walker. This was because the Kit Walker name had not been used in the comic strip at the time the serial was made.

Most of the serial was filmed in the Hollywood hills, which doubled as the African jungle.

DVD

The serial was released on a double-disc DVD by VCI Video in 2001, featuring a commentary track by writer Max Allan Collins as well as other special features. Much of the dialogue of one of the chapters had to be re-dubbed by new actors, because of sound damage to the original film.

A different DVD-edition was released exclusively for Australia in 2005, featuring a commentary track by Frew editor-in-chief Jim Shepherd.

Availability

Originally released on VHS, the Serial has since been given a DVD treatment with digital restoration and even a commentary.

External links



Wikipedia-logo.png This article, in the version of October 11, 2007, includes information from Wikipedia: The Phantom (1943 movie serial).