Tom Tyler
Director: B. Reeves "Breezy" Eason Cast: Tom Tyler
Tom Tyler
, Frank Shannon
Frank Shannon
, Jeanne Bates
Jeanne Bates
B. Reeves "Breezy" Eason


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Although it's only been a viable format since 1998, the DVD has already been a boon to fans of serials. The three Flash Gordon serials, Universal's Buck Rogers, and Republic's Radar Men From the Moon are already out, and now VCI has issued The Phantom. Not much has been seen of the 15-chapter serial from 1943, possibly due to its having been made by Columbia Pictures, which gave up the rights to its chapterplays decades ago -- additionally, Columbia's serials were always a pale shadow of the serial work put out by Republic Pictures and Universal Pictures. The serial was in the hands of a few collectors but unseen by the public for generations. The movie, like the comic strip, concerns the adventures of a costumed jungle hero (Tom Tyler) who keeps peace in the jungle, where he has seemingly reigned for generations. Here he's battling any number of greedy adventurers in search of a lost treasure. The film is a great deal of fun and very enjoyable, though not as well-paced as the best Republic serials, such as Nyoka and the Tigermen. Tom Tyler carries the movie in the title role, as the latest in a line of men taking the identity of The Phantom, ruling over the jungle and battling evil. The major bonus feature is the commentary track by comic strip writer Max Allan Collins, which can be activated over the 30-minute opening chapter. He explains the origins of the character and the strip, and how the setting was altered in the strip from India to Africa, while the serial has a strange Polynesian/Aztec background. His lack of rehearsal costs him some time and opportunities in the discussion, but he is consistently interesting. On a purely technical level, VCI has done a great job with the film --the images look extraordinarily sharp throughout, and the sound has also been well preserved, except (as is pointed out on the outside of the package) for parts of chapter 11, in which some music, sound effects, and voices have been redubbed. The latter isn't obtrusive and, indeed, is almost seamless. The other bonus features are handy, and the menu and the serial itself are easy to negotiate, although the presence of the narration over chapter one means that if one wants to continue, the movie must be reaccessed (even if the narration isn't on) once that chapter ends. The appreciation of this double-DVD set, however, has to rest on one's enjoyment of the serial itself; Tyler -- who was a fine actor in his prime (and even after, when he was crippled by ill health) -- is a charismatic hero, but the level of thrills and adventure is sort of sub-Tarzan.

Product Details

Release Date: 01/30/2001
UPC: 0089859826825
Original Release: 1943
Rating: NR
Source: Vci Video
Region Code: 1
Sound: [Dolby Digital]
Sales rank: 26,608

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Tom Tyler The Phantom/Godfrey Prescott
Frank Shannon Professor Davidson
Jeanne Bates Diana Palmer
Joe Devlin Singapore Smith
Kenneth MacDonald Dr. Max Bremmer
Kermit Maynard Drake
Lal Chand Mehra Suba
Anthony Warde Karak
John Maxwell Larkin
Paul Marion Rocco
Jay Silverheels Atari warrior
Guy Bates Post Prescott, Sr.
Stanley Price Chota
Paul Newlan Cates
Eddie Parker Scott
Pat O'Malley Joe Miller
Dan White Braddock
George Cheseboro Marsden
Anthony Caruso Count Silento
Edmund Cobb Grogan
Wade Crosby Long
Ace the Dog Devil
John Bagni Moku
Ernie S. Adams Rusty Fenton
Guy Kingsford Byron Anderson
Al Hill Collins
Alex Havier houseboy
I. Stanford Jolley Watson
Angel Cruz Chief Zarka
Dick Curtis Tartar
Sol (Saul) Gorss Andy Kriss
Al Ferguson henchman

Technical Credits
B. Reeves "Breezy" Eason Director
Henry Adams Editor
James S. Brown Cinematographer
Dwight Caldwell Editor
Morgan Cox Screenwriter
Rudolph C. Flothow Producer
Sherman Lowe Screenwriter
Victor McLeod Screenwriter
Leslie Swabacker Screenwriter
George C. VanMarter Art Director
Lee Zahler Score Composer

Scene Index

Special Features
0. Chapter Select
0. The Sign Of The Skull
0. The Man Who Never Dies
0. A Traitor's Code
0. The Seat Of Judgement
0. The Ghost Who Walks
0. Jungle Whispers
0. The Mystery Well
0. In Quest Of The Keys
0. The Fire Princess
0. The Chamber Of Death
Chapter Select
0. Chapter Select
0. The Emerald Key
0. The Fangs Of The Beast
0. The Road To Zoloz
0. The Lost City
0. Peace In The Jungle

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