Tag Archives: Bela Lugosi

The Phantom Creeps (1939, Ford Beebe and Saul A. Goodkind), Chapter 9: Speeding Doom

Speeding Doom once again has the good guys, bad guys, and Bela Lugosi trying to get Lugosi’s box. In the box is a powerful meteorite, which allows for all of Lugosi’s inventions. But the good guys and bad guys don’t know about it yet. They still aren’t sure Lugosi’s alive.

Until the bad guys chase Lugosi’s car, which leads to a sequence where he’s a complete fool and lets the box get away, but also has footage reused from the first or second chapter. At least there’s some humor when he makes a captured henchman change his flat tire. Creeps doesn’t acknowledge the humor of it, which would definitely be too much to ask.

Most of the action has the bad guys trying to get the box out of the country. Via schooner. Dastardly foreign agents and their schooners.

Dorothy Arnold comes in–she sees the bad guys drive past, as there’s only one or two major roads in Phantom Creeps–and ends up in the final action sequence. Her presence is only notable because it’s some of the worst direction in Phantom Creeps so far.

In the (as always) lackluster cliffhanger resolution at the beginning, there is at least the humor (and humility) of Regis Toomey’s very unattractive balding getting a showcase thanks to wet hair.

I can’t remember what this serial was about before it was everyone trying to get this box. With three chapters left, it’s clearly not going to be about much else.

CREDITS

Directed by Ford Beebe and Saul A. Goodkind; screenplay by George H. Plympton, Basil Dickey, and Mildred Barish, based on a story by Wyllis Cooper; directors of photography, Jerome Ash and William A. Sickner; edited by Irving Birnbaum, Joseph Gluck, and Alvin Todd; music by Charles Previn; released by Universal Pictures.

Starring Bela Lugosi (Dr. Alex Zorka), Robert Kent (Capt. Bob West), Dorothy Arnold (Jean Drew), Jack C. Smith (Monk), Regis Toomey (Jim Daly), Edwin Stanley (Dr. Fred Mallory), Anthony Averill (Rankin), Dora Clement (Ann Zorka), Hugh Huntley (Perkins), and Edward Van Sloan (Jarvis).


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The Phantom Creeps (1939, Ford Beebe and Saul A. Goodkind), Chapter 8: Trapped in the Flames

Trapped in the Flames is yet another exciting installment of The Phantom Creeps. Yet again, the Feds (led by Robert Kent) pursue the foreign agents (Anthony Averill’s the chief henchman, Edward Van Sloan’s the boss) trying to find Bela Lugosi’s missing box. No one but Lugosi (presumed dead by both parties) knows what’s in the box. He’s also after the box. He has an invisibility belt and a scheming sidekick, Jack C. Smith.

And, of course, Dorothy Arnold is around to be told to shut up and stay out of the way. It’s hard to have much sympathy for Arnold, although she’s treated terribly by Kent and his main sidekick, Regis Toomey, because her performance is so bad. Even when it’s a handful of lines, like in Flames, she’s so bad. Ditto Edwin Stanley as the good guy scientist. He’s real bad too, no matter how small his part.

There’s some car chases–not really chases, more like following with speed–and a fistfight and then a warehouse fire (hence the title). And Lugosi’s invisible form, outwitting both Fed and foreign agent. Meanwhile, Lugosi can’t figure out Jack C. Smith’s scheming against him, even though Smith’s performance–scientifically speaking–couldn’t have less nuance.

Most of the chapter is just indistinct male actors in fedoras talking to other indistinct male actors in fedoras about driving somewhere.

Though Averill’s far better than when he started. It might just be he’s not as awful as Kent, Arnold, Stanley, or Smith. Or Toomey. Though Toomey at least comes across like a violent misogynist, which means enthusiasm, something no one else musters.

CREDITS

Directed by Ford Beebe and Saul A. Goodkind; screenplay by George H. Plympton, Basil Dickey, and Mildred Barish, based on a story by Wyllis Cooper; directors of photography, Jerome Ash and William A. Sickner; edited by Irving Birnbaum, Joseph Gluck, and Alvin Todd; music by Charles Previn; released by Universal Pictures.

Starring Bela Lugosi (Dr. Alex Zorka), Robert Kent (Capt. Bob West), Dorothy Arnold (Jean Drew), Jack C. Smith (Monk), Regis Toomey (Jim Daly), Edwin Stanley (Dr. Fred Mallory), Anthony Averill (Rankin), Dora Clement (Ann Zorka), Hugh Huntley (Perkins), and Edward Van Sloan (Jarvis).


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The Phantom Creeps (1939, Ford Beebe and Saul A. Goodkind), Chapter 7: The Menacing Mist

The Menacing Mist is endless. It starts with Bela Lugosi trying to kill Robert Kent with his remote control robot, but then he has to deal with some insurrection from lackey Jack C. Smith. Kent’s just doing action, so at least he’s not doing bad acting. Smith, on the other hand, is doing some bad acting. Some real bad acting. Even when the effects should provide some cover, he’s real, real bad.

Of course, Lugosi’s character is real, real dumb; he deserves the insurrection.

The slight improvement of the last chapter is all gone here. The opening scrawl recap reveals last chapter’s plot twist isn’t really a plot twist, then the cliffhanger resolve turns out–as always–there’s no actual danger for anyone in Creeps.

Kent and Arnold deliver lines like they’re in a failed screen test.

CREDITS

Directed by Ford Beebe and Saul A. Goodkind; screenplay by George H. Plympton, Basil Dickey, and Mildred Barish, based on a story by Wyllis Cooper; directors of photography, Jerome Ash and William A. Sickner; edited by Irving Birnbaum, Joseph Gluck, and Alvin Todd; music by Charles Previn; released by Universal Pictures.

Starring Bela Lugosi (Dr. Alex Zorka), Robert Kent (Capt. Bob West), Dorothy Arnold (Jean Drew), Jack C. Smith (Monk), Regis Toomey (Jim Daly), Edwin Stanley (Dr. Fred Mallory), Anthony Averill (Rankin), Dora Clement (Ann Zorka), Hugh Huntley (Perkins), and Edward Van Sloan (Jarvis).


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The Phantom Creeps (1939, Ford Beebe and Saul A. Goodkind), Chapter 6: The Iron Monster

Phantom Creeps hits the halfway point with some intrigue involving one of the cast possibly being a double agent (fingers crossed as it’d give the plot something engaging) and Bela Lugosi getting a new weapon, a kind of ray gun.

The ray gun doesn’t get much usage after the demonstration because Lugosi sics his robot (the Iron Monster of chapter title) on good guy Robert Kent. It’s the cliffhanger, but there’s at least the momentary hope the robot will do away with Kent.

Until the second half of the chapter–when the double agent subplot gets hinted–Iron is rough-going. The cliffhanger resolution from last chapter is real long, playing lots of the previous chapter in the setup. Then it’s just people driving around and seeing other people driving around to follow and move the story (story might be a stretch) forward.

Also, sadly, it’s not like finally having the robot attack means the scene is well-executed. Beebe and Goodkind’s direction doesn’t magically improve. Though the script finally acknowledges, halfway into the serial, it’s idiotic to have presumed dead Lugosi’s secret hideout in the house where the Feds are stationed.

Maybe things will improve going forward into the second half.

Probably not.

CREDITS

Directed by Ford Beebe and Saul A. Goodkind; screenplay by George H. Plympton, Basil Dickey, and Mildred Barish, based on a story by Wyllis Cooper; directors of photography, Jerome Ash and William A. Sickner; edited by Irving Birnbaum, Joseph Gluck, and Alvin Todd; music by Charles Previn; released by Universal Pictures.

Starring Bela Lugosi (Dr. Alex Zorka), Robert Kent (Capt. Bob West), Dorothy Arnold (Jean Drew), Jack C. Smith (Monk), Regis Toomey (Jim Daly), Edwin Stanley (Dr. Fred Mallory), Anthony Averill (Rankin), Dora Clement (Ann Zorka), Hugh Huntley (Perkins), and Edward Van Sloan (Jarvis).


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