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The Phantom Empire


This movie is based on the movie serial. From IMDb: Cowboy singer Gene Autry stumbles upon a civilization buried beneath his own Radio Ranch. The Muranians have developed technology and weaponry such as television and ray guns. Their rich supply of radium draws unscrupulous speculators from the surface. The peaceful civilization of the Muranians is corrupted by the greed from above, and it becomes Autry's task to prevent all-out war, ideally without disrupting his regular radio show. Stars: Gene Autry, Frankie Darro, Betsy King Ross, and Dorothy Christy IMDb Page AKA Radio Ranch

The Phantom Empire is a 1935 American Western (genre) serial film directed by Otto Brower and B. Reeves Eason and starring Gene Autry, Frankie Darro, and Betsy King Ross. This 12-chapter Mascot Pictures serial combined the western, Musical theatre, and science fiction genres. The first episode is 30 minutes, the rest about 20 minutes. The serial film is about a singing cowboy who stumbles upon an ancient subterranean civilization living beneath his own ranch that becomes corrupted by unscrupulous greedy speculators from the surface.< name="imdb"></> In 1940, a 70-minute feature film edited from the serial was released under the titles Radio Ranch or Men with Steel Faces. This was Gene Autry's first starring role, playing himself as a singing cowboy.


  • Gene Autry as Gene Autry, singing cowboy at the Radio Ranch
  • Frankie Darro as Frankie Baxter, one of Gene's sidekicks
  • Betsy King Ross as Betsy Baxter, one of Gene's sidekicks
  • Dorothy Christy as Queen Tika, the evil queen of Murania
  • Wheeler Oakman as Lord Argo, the Muranian High Chancellor and leader of the rebels
  • Charles K. French as Mal
  • Warner Richmond as Rab
  • J. Frank Glendon as Professor Beetson, the villainous scientist after the land's radium deposits
  • Smiley Burnette as Oscar, comic relief
  • Peter Potter as Pete, comic relief
  • Edward Peil Sr. as Cooper
  • Jack Carlyle as Saunders< name="magers-21"/>< name="imdbcast"></> The budget was originally reported to have been "no more than" $100,000.

    =Filming and budget=

    The Phantom Empire was filmed in late 1934. The film had an operating budget of $75,000 (equal to $}} today).< name="magers-21"/>

    =Filming locations=

    • Agoura Ranch, Agoura, California, USA
    • Bronson Canyon, Griffith Park, 4730 Crystal Springs Drive, Los Angeles, California, USA
    • Griffith Observatory, Griffith Park, 4730 Crystal Springs Drive, Los Angeles, California, USA
    • Iverson Ranch, 1 Iverson Lane, Chatsworth, Los Angeles, California, USA
    • Keystone Studios, 1712 Glendale Blvd., Silver Lake, Los Angeles, California, USA


    • Ken Cooper
    • Richard Talmadge
    • Jack Jones
    • George Magrill
    • Wally West< name="magers-22"/>
    Frankie Darro and Betsy King Ross did their own stunt riding in this serial. Ross was an experienced rodeo performer< name="harmon-61-62"/> and was billed as the "World's Champion Trick Rider".< name="stedman"/>


    • "Uncle Noah's Ark" (Gene Autry, Smiley Burnette, Nick Manoloff) by Gene Autry and band (chapter 1)
    • "That Silver-Haired Daddy of Mine" (Gene Autry, Jimmy Long) by Gene Autry and band (chapter 1)
    • "I'm Oscar, I'm Pete" (Gene Autry, Smiley Burnette) by Gene Autry, Smiley Burnette, and William Moore (chapter 2)
    • "No Need to Worry" (Gene Autry, Smiley Burnette) by the Radio Rangers (chapter 4)
    • "Uncle Henry" (Gene Autry, Smiley Burnette) by Gene Autry (chapter 4)
    • "I'm Getting a Moon's Eye View of the World" (Gene Autry, Smiley Burnette) by Gene Autry (chapter 8)
    • "My Cross Eyed Gal" (Gene Autry, Jimmy Long) by the Radio Rangers (chapter 8)
    • "Just Come On Back" (Gene Autry, Smiley Burnette) by the Radio Rangers (chapter 8)< name="magers-21"/>< name="imdbsoundtrack"></>

    Chapter titles

    1. The Singing Cowboy
    2. The Thunder Riders
    3. The Lighting Chamber
    4. Phantom Broadcast
    5. Beneath the Earth
    6. Disaster from the Skies
    7. From Death to Life
    8. Jaws of Jeopardy
    9. Prisoner of the Ray
    10. The Rebellion
    11. A Queen in Chains
    12. The End of Murania The serial was a "marked box office success."< name="harmon-61-62"/>

      Cultural erences

      The 1979 television series Cliffhangers (TV series), which attempted to recreate the old movie serial feel by showing three serial chapters in each episode, included a serial titled "The Secret Empire", a pastiche of The Phantom Empire. Events in the underground empire were shown in color, but events on the surface were "in glorious black and white." Stock footage from the serial, as well as other serials, was used in the animated series Muppet Babies.
      Fred Olen Ray in 1988 filmed a movie called The Phantom Empire about treasure hunters braving a cavern system populated by troglodytes and other subterranean hazards to finally encounter an underground lost civilization. The movie makes erence to the serial and was itself in the end credits planned to have sequels that never were produced.
      Alejandro Pérez Cervantes' short story collection, Murania, is highly inspired on the aesthetic of Murania and the lost continent of Mu as depicted in the film. It received the 2006 Julio Torri national award for short fiction in Mexico.

      See also

      • Cliffhangers (TV series) - "The Secret Empire"
      • List of film serials
      • List of film serials by studio



      Category:1935 films
      Category:1930s fantasy films
      Category:American films
      Category:Black-and-white films
      Category:English-language films
      Category:Space Westerns
      Category:Films directed by B. Reeves Eason
      Category:Films directed by Otto Brower
      Category:Mascot Pictures film serials

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