"The Phantom" is one of the better serials released by Columbia Pictures. It benefits from the casting of Tom Tyler in the lead role. Tyler had previously played a comic book hero in "The Adventures of Captain Marvel" (Republic-1941) and was physically suited for the role. Tyler kept himself in good shape and didn't look out of place in the Phantom costume. Although he primarily played in westerns, ironically, it is for these two serials that he will probably be best remembered.
The "run through the jungle" story has Professor Davidson (Frank Shannon) and his daughter Diana (Jeanne Bates) searching for the Lost City of Zoloz and the hidden treasure therein. Their efforts are being thwarted by Singapore Smith (Joe Devlin) who wants the treasure for himself. Kindly Dr. Bremmer (Kenneth MacDonald) an apparent foreign agent, is trying to destroy the peace among the natives, which had been controlled by the Phantom, to build a secret air base.
Geoffrey Prescott (also Tyler) who is Diana's fiance succeeds his father as the Phantom when the older man is murdered. Even though the Phantom wears only a small eye mask to cover his face, in true serial tradition, no one including Diana is able to recognize him.
Over the course of the 15 chapters, the Phantom escapes death from explosions, poison gas, avalanches, a collapsing rope bridge etc. etc. With the help of his trusty dog Devil the Phantom is able to overcome the villains and again bring peace to the jungle.
Although the serial gives billing to only Tyler and Bates there are several other familiar faces (other than those already mentioned) in the cast. Ernie Adams plays Rusty, the Phantom's ally, Dick Curtis a Tartar Chief and Anthony Carouso, George Chesebro, Wade Crosby, Edmund Cobb, I. Stanford Jolley and Kermit Maynard as varios henchmen. And watch for a brief appearance by Jay Silverheels in chapter 9 as an Atari warrior.
Director B.Reeves Eason keeps the action moving and tries to come up with new twists on the chapter ending cliff hangers. The VCI DVD has restored the serial to its original brilliance although some dialogue sequences had to be re-dubbed due to the deterioration of the original soundtrack.
"The Phantom" certainly has to rank as one of the top 5 serials of all time.
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