THE PHANTOM OF HOLLYWOOD (1974)
Article 3302 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 7-13-2010
Posting Date: 8-29-2010
Directed by Gene Levitt
Featuring Skye Aubrey, Jack Cassidy, Jackie Coogan
What it is: Masked maniac on the loose
Worldwide Studios is selling their back lots, since all shooting is now done on location. However, there is a secret resident living on one of the back lots, and he doesn’t want them sold… and he’s not afraid to kill those who do.
The story here is no great shakes; it’s basically a variation on THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA. However, it’s the milieu that makes this movie memorable, as it takes place on the back lots of MGM. My favorite moment in the movie is near the beginning; as the camera pans across the decrepit and decaying buildings of the back lot, we cut to movie scenes where the buildings were used, and, for movie lovers, there’s something very sad about these scenes. It’s actually quite clever for MGM to use the destruction of their own back lot for a final movie there, and I spent a good deal of the movie watching the familiar scenery and trying to remember the movies where I first saw them. Furthermore, there’s something very ironic about the fact that this movie is both shot on the back lot AND location, since the back lot IS the location of the movie. I also liked the touch that the masked villain occasionally is able to walk about in public at times when the lot is peopled by other actors in costumes. A good performance by Jack Cassidy in a dual role is also a plus.