The Phantom (1931)
On November 1, 1931, Weiss Brothers Artclass Pictures released The Phantom (1931), a low-budget thriller. The film opens with a death row inmates escape from the prison on the day of his execution. After he jumps from the prison wall to the top of the train, a plane with a rope ladder picks up the prisoner. While the opening sounds exciting, the editing was choppy and made the film hard to follow.
The prisoner then begins to creep around the District Attorney’s expansive mansion. At least we believe the Phantom is the prisoner. Lack of continuity spoiled some of the narrative. While the Phantom terrorizes several members of the household and the servants, the District Attorney’s daughter and her reporter boyfriend attempt to solve the mystery of the masked man. It isn’t much of a mystery, if the Phantom is the prisoner.
The reporter Dick Mallory, played by Guinn “Big Boy” Williams, needs a big newspaper scoop, so he can marry his sweetheart Ruth Hampton, played by Ailene Ray. Before the film ends, Mallory and Hampton end up next door in an insane asylum. At the asylum, they will finally solve the mystery.
Guinn Williams was born on April 26, 1899 in Decatuer, Texas. Williams, a muscular athlete, played professional baseball before taking up acting. His father, Guinn Williams, Sr. was a U.S. Congressman from Texas. Nicknamed “Big Boy” by his friend Will Rogers, Guinn Williams, Jr. starred or played in 221 films before his death on June 6, 1962.
Williams didn’t act badly in this film but the lack of continuity made following the narrative difficult. I viewed this public domain film on YouTube. I don’t know if editors removed sections of this film for distribution, which could account for the editing problems. It may also have been filmed in its current state.
The film runs about 62 minutes. Do you think I’m being too harsh in my criticism? You can leave a comment or ask a question about this or any post in the comment section below, on my Facebook page, Twitter profile and Google+ page.