30 November 2003 | wdixon
Typically Brilliant Republic 1940s Supernatural Thriller
I just caught up with THE PHANTOM SPEAKS yesterday, and it's one of a group of disturbing, yet riveting hour long thrillers that Republic produced in the mid 1940s, along with such films as VALLEY OF THE ZOMBIES, THE MYSTERIOUS MR. VALENTINE, and THE VAMPIRE'S GHOST; short, evocative, and deeply atmospheric. While Republic's serials dealt in nonstop action, and their Westerns offered up the artificially cheerful spectacle of Roy Roger and family in a seemingly endless series of singing westerns, Republic's hour long programmers are melancholy, paranoid, world weary, and genuinely disturbing. Directed by such superb veterans as Phil Ford, Leslie Selander, and in this case, John English, Republic's "B" films offered the viewer a vision of the world as a vast, bleak, and friendless place, inhabited only the corrupt and powerful, and their unwilling victims. Superb direction by English, with Tom Powers excellent as the ruthless killer, and the ever reliable Stanley Ridges both sympathetic and harrowing as his dupe. Watch for an uncredited Kenne Duncan in the opening scene as Powers's victim. All of these films, needless to say, should be available on DVD.