Film Serial Review: The Crimson Ghost (1946)

Release Date: October 26th, 1946 (first chapter)
Directed by: Fred C. Brannon, William Witney
Written by: Albert DeMond, Basil Dickey, Jesse Duffy, Sol Shor
Cast: Charles Quigley, Linda Stirling, Clayton Moore, I. Stanford Jolley, Kenne Duncan, Forrest Taylor, Sam Flint, Joseph Forte

Republic Pictures, 167 Minutes total (12 episodes), 93 Minutes (film edit)


I wish we still had movie serials. Granted, they existed before my time but I have watched several throughout the years and wanted to review some of my favorites. The Crimson Ghost is one of those favorites.

Since my early teen years, I have been a fan of the punk band The Misfits. I always loved their iconic logo and they had a great song called Crimson Ghost. It wasn’t until a few years later that I came across a write-up about the serial in a movie magazine that I discovered that their logo was the mask worn by a character actually named the Crimson Ghost. Obviously, I had to see the serial and luckily one of the guys at my local video store had a personal copy and he loaned it out to me.

The Crimson Ghost is really cool and imaginative. The serial format can be a bit rushed and disjointed when watched in succession from scene-to-scene like a film. The Crimson Ghost does a fairly good job of feeling more like a fluid film than feeling like chapters of an episodic television show mashed together. Granted, some of the cliffhangers are really repetitive.

For instance, just in the first half of the serial’s twelve chapter duration, the cliffhanger was a car exploding three different times. Every resolution in the following episode showed the driver jumping out of the car. Although, this was a really common, albeit severely overused, plot device in serials.

The scheme of the Crimson Ghost was like that of a criminal mastermind from his cinematic era. He felt like a proto James Bond villain but looked even cooler. When you’re wearing a crimson red cloak and hood with the Misfits logo as your face, you’re going to look pretty bad ass.

Charles Quigley, as the hero Duncan Richards, was an energetic, no nonsense, ass kicker. He literally flew across the screen and bounced off walls as he beat down the mind-controlled henchmen of the Crimson Ghost.

Each chapter served a purpose to the story, other than just feeling like filler chapters. Although, I have also watched the theatrical film edit of the film, with a much shorter running time, and it doesn’t feel like you miss a whole bunch. The film version is pretty fluid but maybe a little jumpy on the editing side.

The colorized version of the shorter edit is quite pretty though. It is nice actually seeing the Crimson Ghost wearing crimson, as opposed to a dark shade of grey. However, if you want to see this thing in its entirety, watch the 167 minute black and white version.

Also, both versions are available for free on YouTube.

Rating: 8/10

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