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Greetings, and welcome to VIEWING THE CLASSICS. Here you'll find capsule reviews of vintage movies from the early days of cinema through the 1970s, with a special emphasis on sci-fi, horror, and mystery movies. Be sure to check out the Pages links, where you can find a Film Index of all my reviews, links to the reviews organized by cast members, directors, and other contributors, and links to my reviews of the films of talented young director Joshua Kennedy.

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Sunday, January 10, 2016

The Phantom Speaks (1945)

Starring Richard Arlen, Stanley Ridges, Lynne Roberts, Tom Powers, Charlotte Wynters
Directed by John English
(actor & director credits courtesy IMDB.com)

An expert in "psychic science" is able to communicate with a condemned killer after his execution, but the dead man's spirit takes over his body with revenge on his mind.

Better known for its serials and westerns, this was one of Republic Pictures' rare horror films, and it's not half bad, with a well-written script by John K. Butler, which I've heard was perhaps based at least partly on the 1940 film Black Friday, in which Ridges played a very similar role.  Ridges and Powers are both excellent, selling us on their supernatural relationship through their voices and mannerisms without aid from any special effects.  Unfortunately, the film doesn't follow through on its best idea, (outside the central characters), that the insane may be innocents possessed by the will of the dead, and ends with a rather vague and unsatisfying conclusion.

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