Not a 'who-dun-it?' but a 'who-IS-it?'
Annie Van Auken | Planet Earth | 01/25/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
"THE PHANTOM is an early talkie programmer from Poverty Row's ACTION PICTURES. Like most low-budget films of that era, it tends to have mediocre sound and too much dialogue in spots. The action sequences here are interesting, however.
An exciting prison break sequence prefaces what is primarily a "dark house" mystery. The condemned escapee, nicknamed "Phantom" wants to murder a D.A. The attorney's daughter and her reporter boyfriend follow the black caped fugitive from a secret passage-filled mansion to an atmospheric insane asylum where odd characters and brain transplants abound (this section is reminiscent of 1932's THE OLD DARK HOUSE). The homicidal maniac blends in so well with sanitarium inmates our two heroes may need help to identify him.
ALPHA VIDEO is a provider of vintage programming that's often unavailable elsewhere. Their prices are fair, but so is transfer quality of some of their offerings. None have undergone restoration, yet this product's rareness and an honest price make it a worthwhile purchase.
Also from ALPHA:
Like "Phantom," THE MURDER IN THE MUSEUM (1934) again teams a young lady and reporter who endeavor to solve a killing.
Parenthetical number preceding title is a 1 to 10 viewer poll rating found at a film resource website.
(5.1) The Phantom (1931) - Guinn 'Big Boy' Williams/Allene Ray/Niles Welch/Tom O'Brien/Sheldon Lewis/Wilfred Lucas/Violet Knights/William Gould/Bobby Dunn/William Jackie
All but one cast member had acting careers that originated in the silent era-- most started in the 'Teens.
GUINN 'BIG BOY' WILLIAMS (Dick Mallory) was best known for appearing in such westerns as DODGE CITY (1939) and SANTA FE TRAIL (1940).
ALLENE RAY (Ruth Hampton) was a star of silent screen action serials. After "Phantom," and due to her high-pitched voice, she didn't make another movie until 1949's GUN CARGO, which was her last.
Shorty the chauffeur is played by silent era comic BOBBY DUNN. He lost an eye to a matchstick while performing the stunt of falling into a rain barrel. The glass orb Dunn wore for the rest of his screen career made him look cross-eyed."