The Phantom (1961)

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The Phantom (1961) Poster

The Phantom, along with canine companion Devil, investigate wicked doings at the plantation of Mrs. Harris.

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27 October 2014 | kevinolzak
3
| Unsold pilot features Lon Chaney and Richard Kiel
Produced as a half hour television pilot for THE PHANTOM in 1961, "No Escape" wound up going unsold, not surprising given such dismal results. The title role was played by veteran Bob Hope stuntman Roger Creed, disguising himself as an eye patch-wearing prisoner on the plantation owned by Mrs. Harris (Paulette Goddard), enriching herself by forcing young men against their will to build a road through the jungle. Keeping dissension to a minimum is foreman Jed (Lon Chaney), along with hulking prisoner Big Mike (Richard Kiel), who is deemed necessary to call out any workers who outlive their usefulness, with Mrs. Harris' prized black leopard finishing them off. The only other familiar face belongs to Reginald Denny, in for one scene as Commissioner R. G. Mallory, apparently to spell out each episode's plot line. The presence of the still lovely Paulette Goddard is especially surprising, her career now consisting of a few stray TV shows, while Chaney's sadistic foreman is a one dimensional heavy, Creed's Phantom displaying no personality whatsoever (scriptwise, he had nothing to work with). The brief confrontation between the formidable 6'3 Chaney and the towering 7'2 Kiel provides a moment of screen irony, the newcomer seemingly announcing his presence to the grizzled veteran. One of the producers was Adrian Weiss, whose claim to fame was the 1958 Ed Wood-scripted camp classic "The Bride and the Beast." The director was Harold Daniels, an unspectacular journeyman responsible for 1958's "Terror in the Haunted House" (aka "My World Dies Screaming") and Chaney's own "House of the Black Death" (aka "Blood of the Man Devil"), a no budget obscurity shot in Sept 1965, languishing unreleased until after the director's 1971 death.

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