The Law of Contact

The Phantom Broadcast (March 15, 1933)

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The Phantom Broadcast
 

Released on March 15, 1933: (running time 1 hour and 12 minutes) A womanizing radio singing star is murdered, and the wrong person will pay the ultimate penalty for murder.

Produced by William T. Lackey

Directed by Phil Rosen

The Actors: Ralph Forbes (Norman Wilder, Murdock's pianist and manager), Vivienne Osborne (Elsa Evans), Arnold Gray (Grant Murdock, singer), Gail Patrick (Laura Hamilton), Paul Page (Doctor Robert Brooks), Pauline Garon (Nancy, store clerk at the magazine stand), Guinn 'Big Boy' Williams (Sandy Higgins, Wilder's chauffeur), Rockliffe Fellowes (Joe Maestro, racketeer), Harland Tucker (program manager), Carl Miller (Lefty Morris, Maestro's hit man), Mary MacLaren (Beth, artist), George Nash (artist George), Althea Henley (model), George 'Gabby' Hayes (police lieutenant), Louise Beavers (Penny, maid), Kit Guard (Maestro henchman), Henry Hall (radio station manager Thornton), Dick Rush (policeman)

 

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The Hunchback Cripple, the Crafty Crooner, and the Girl with the Broken Mirror

I’ve watched a great many movies made during the first half century of motion pictures, and very few of them can be considered unique. Sure, they all have different twists and turns, but the good guy always ends up with the pretty girl, and the bad guys always lose in the end. The murderer is always caught, and the cops always get their killer.

This is a pre-code adventure, filmed a year before the Hays Office would begin censoring what could and could not be seen on screen, and hinted at in dialogue. Because of the very special plot twist that will not be revealed until about 34 minutes into the adventure, I won’t talk about the story plot, except to illustrate a couple of pre-code elements that could only happen before movie censorship began.

Ralph Forbes plays the part of a hunchback cripple who plays piano and gives voice lessons. Arnold Gray plays the part of radio superstar singer Grant Murdock. The hunchback pianist is his mentor and business manager. In pre-code fashion, Grant Murdock is a nationwide star with adoring ladies all over the country sending him fan letters and begging to become his next romantic conquest. Grant Murdock moves from woman to woman, wining and dining them until they come to his apartment for the night, or longer.

Gail Patrick is Laura Hamilton, a young girl in love with a new doctor., She has a singing voice that might make her famous and wealthy, and would love to meet the cripple voice teacher that brought radio star Grant Murdock to fame and fortune.

In pre-code fashion, while getting ready to meet the great piano player and voice coach, she tells her boyfriend, who seems to live with her, that she will change her clothes in her room, but will keep the door open so that they can continue talking about her chance at fame. Her boyfriend promises not to peek while she is changing clothes, and she answers with a smile that if he doesn’t peek she will be very disappointed.

This leads to that, and sometime after the secret plot twist is revealed, the murder happens. The killer will get away to live happily ever after, and more I cannot reveal. I’ve searched for a better copy of this classic for several years, but the only surviving copy that I know about is very worn out, a bit fuzzy, and not the best for watching on a giant tv screen, but it is acceptable on a smaller screen. Please don’t let the lack of video quality deter you from experiencing this amazing murder adventure. Pop a big bowl of white kernel popcorn with plenty of warm melted butter drizzled over it and enjoy the show.

Arnold Gray
Arnold Gray
Arnold Gray, Ralph Forbes
Arnold Gray, Ralph Forbes
Arnold Gray, Vivienne Osborne
Arnold Gray, Vivienne Osborne
Arnold Gray, Vivienne Osborne
Arnold Gray, Vivienne Osborne
Arnold Gray, Gail Patrick
Arnold Gray, Gail Patrick
Carl Miller
Carl Miller
Carl Miller, Kit Guard, Louise Beavers
Carl Miller, Kit Guard, Louise Beavers
Carl Miller, Rockliffe Fellowes
Carl Miller, Rockliffe Fellowes
Gail Patrick
Gail Patrick
Gail Patrick, Paul Page
Gail Patrick, Paul Page
Gail Patrick, Paul Page
Gail Patrick, Paul Page
George 'Gabby' Hayes
George 'Gabby' Hayes
George Nash, Althea Henley
George Nash, Althea Henley
Guinn 'Big Boy' Williams
Guinn 'Big Boy' Williams
Guinn 'Big Boy' Williams, Ralph Forbes
Guinn 'Big Boy' Williams, Ralph Forbes
Harland Tucker
Harland Tucker
Kit Guard
Kit Guard
Paul Page, Gail Patrick
Paul Page, Gail Patrick
Pauline Garon
Pauline Garon
Ralph Forbes
Ralph Forbes
Ralph Forbes, Gail Patrick, Paul Page
Ralph Forbes, Gail Patrick, Paul Page
Ralph Forbes, Guinn Williams
Ralph Forbes, Guinn Williams
Ralph Forbes
Ralph Forbes
Rockliffe Fellowes
Rockliffe Fellowes
Vivienne Osborne
Vivienne Osborne
Vivienne Osborne, Arnold Gray
Vivienne Osborne, Arnold Gray
Vivienne Osborne, Rockliffe Fellowes
Vivienne Osborne, Rockliffe Fellowes
Vivienne Osborne
Vivienne Osborne
Vivienne Osborne
Vivienne Osborne
Vivienne Osborne
Vivienne Osborne