The Law of Contact

The Phantom Creeps (October 17, 1939)

Bela Lugosi in The Phantom Creeps

Released on October 17, 1939: Bela Lugosi is a mad scientist that has the power to destroy the world.

Directed by Ford Beebe and Saul A. Goodkind

The Actors: Bela Lugosi (Dr. Alex Zorka and Dr. Zane), Robert Kent (Captain Bob West), Dorothy Arnold (Jean Drew), Edwin Stanley (Dr. Fred Mallory), Lee J. Cobb (road crew foreman), Regis Toomey (Lieutenant Jim Daly), Jack C. Smith (Monk), Edward Van Sloan (Jarvis, spy chief), Dora Clement (Ann Zorka), Anthony Averill (henchman Rankin), Hugh Huntley (Perkins, Mallory's lab assistant), Monte Vandergrift (Al, guard), Frank Mayo (train engineer), Jim Farley (Skipper), Eddie Acuff (Mac, AMI agent), Reed Howes (signalman), Ed Wolff (the robot), Hooper Atchley (Experimental lab tech), Roy Barcroft (Parker, AMI agent), Robert Blair (Smith, thug), Al Bridge (thug), Don Brodie (thug), Lane Chandler (Army Sergeant), Eddie Dunn (policeman), Jerry Frank (henchman with Rankin), Karl Hackett (Brown, henchman secretary), Charles King (policeman), George Magrill (pilot, thug, and schooner crewman), Monte Montague (airplane mechanic), Pat O'Malley (AMI Chief), David Sharpe (schooner sailor), Tom Steele (train conductor, and radio truck driver), Forrest Taylor (henchman Black), Harry Wilson (schooner crewman).


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This movie explores the adventure series, produced in the 1930's and 1940's to keep moviegoers returning every week. The story was told in short episodes, one every week. The action and excitement rose every fifteen minutes or so, to bring the moviegoer to a place in the story that left them wondering what might happen next. Of course, they must return next week and buy a movie ticket to find out, even if they didn't want to see the main feature! This motion picture was produced by Universal Studios, to accompany their feature films. The version that survives today is a compilation of all 22 episodes put together into one continuous movie. Universal created another company, Commonwealth Pictures, to distribute films like this to early television stations, and that is why you will see Commonwealth Pictures instead of Universal in the credits.

There are a couple of things that make this one particularly interesting. First, the great Bela Lugosi performs at his best as the evil doctor who can become invisible, create amazing inventions, including an 'iron man' killer robot. This film also reunites for the first time the team of Lugosi and Edwin Stanley, who earlier performed in the famous 1931 version of Dracula. Prodigious actor Regis Toomey is also featured in this film and if you watch closely when the road crew blocks off a highway, you will see Lee J. Cobb as the foreman of the crew, trying to flag down the car with our heroes in it. So sit back and relax with your bowl of hot buttered white kernel popcorn and enjoy the thrilling adventures of a mad scientist versus the government spies and cub reporters that are trying to find and stop The Creeping Phantom!