THE PHANTOM (1943)
Article 3299 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 7-10-2010
Posting Date: 8-26-2010
Directed by B. Reeves Eason
Featuring Tom Tyler, Jeanne Bates, Kenneth MacDonald
What it is: Masked hero jungle movie
A masked hero known as the Phantom must protect the native tribes from a group of spies planning to build a secret airstrip in a lost city.
If you can get your mind around the patently absurd premise (that for years a family of white men have been protecting the native jungle tribes under the guise of the masked bejumpsuited immortal hero known as the Phantom) and the strangeness of seeing an urban-style masked hero in jungle settings, you should find this to be one of the sturdier and more enjoyable serials out there. At least one advantage of the jungle settings is that we don’t have a single bail-out cliffhanger in the bunch, for one thing. Western actor Tom Tyler does a good job as the title character, and Kenneth MacDonald does one of the better jobs of playing a villain who manages to successfully cover up that role when dealing with the heroes. The plot also has enough story to avoid being repetitive, but not so much to be confusing. One of the episodes had to be redubbed due to the deterioration of the soundtrack, and you’ll spot the episode right off the bat with the opening narration. The most prominent fantastic content surrounds the legend of the Phantom’s immortality (which we know is faked); outside of that, it’s mostly marginally fantastic in that jungle-movie sort of way. This is one of the better serials out there.