Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Serial Week: The Phantom

Welcome back to Serial Week were we are not looking to profile into the psyche of a killer. Yeah I know it just doesn't sound interesting now, but how about another guy in tights? Huh? You seem to like those. Based on the comic strip created by Lee Falk. This character has managed short stories, novelizations, cartoons, video games and even a theme park. Many tremble for the might of his majestic purple clad terror on bullies and criminals and his inherent jungle powers. This is The Phantom.

Many of you have commented on my tights.  Stop that.

So glossing over the 1996 Robert Evans produced film The Phantom which...kinda a stinker but still superior to the Dick Tracy flick, our costume clad crimefighter operated out of Bangalla, a completely fictional country. Our hero made his way to the comic strip in February 17, 1936. There is a tale of a Ghost Who Walks, an indestructible being that guards the innocent, devotes his time into disrupting criminals' lives and dispenses justice.

Hailing from Columbia Pictures, our cliffhanger serial stars The Phantom (Tom Tyler of Stagecoach, The Talk of the Town, Clancy of the Mounted, Adventures of Captain Marvel, Border Vigilantes and She Tore a Yellow Ribbon) as his second superhero role as he was Captain Marvel as well and brother this guy is built. Getting his start in Tinseltown as a movie extra and stuntman, at 6'1" his weight-lifter build and strong jaw landed him many a role and the serials were no different. With him at his side his faithful wolf (German Shepard for safety reasons), Devil.

The "tribes" are shockingly enough in red face.

Our fifteen parter opens with a expedition to rediscover the Lost City of Zoloz...yes it is spelled Zoloz. Guess Ziox was taken for The Final Sacrifice...oh Rowsdower.  Ahem, moving on, the location of the city can only be found of seven separate pieces of ivory, three of which are in Professor Davidson's possession. His partner, Doctor Bremmer intends to use the lost city as a secret airbase for his country that didn't seem important enough to name. All hail my nationality of on unknown origin!

The Phantom steps in but Doctor Bremmer is able to dispatch him off this mortal coil but as the legacy hero goes, one will step in for the other, The Phantom's son Geoffrey Prescott takes on the mantle of the Phantom to not only avenge his father but to do right by the innocent that need his help.

Not unlike Batman or Pulp book hero Doc Savage, The Phantom does not possess superhuman powers but must rely on his wits, strength, skill with a .45 and his reputation as a profound badass.

Well Dave, you have jungle fever. I'm writing you a prescription for more cowbell.

My take on the serial? Given the less than stellar creation of the 96 Phantom I found this to be a tight script, well balanced cast and frankly I didn't want to go head to head with this guy. He moved like a boxer. The elder Phantom was barrel chested and about in his 70s and yet he looked like he could curb stomp a few guys. Tyler as the younger Phantom moves like a boxer and a guy that has been in more than a few street fights in real life so yeah I was impressed. His line delivery was a bit wooden but so was Gary Cooper's and not many complained about him. Jeanne Bates' performance of Diane Palmer comes off adventurous, sassy without the sneers and arrogance of Kristy Swanson's performance in the 96 film. She had feisty behavior, verve and a decent heart where her man was concerned.

Any Phantom fan would easily enjoy this serial, so give it the once over. Sorry 2010 fans but no biker helmets.

Oh?  I look younger?  Well my ectoplasm was feeling generous.