By Steve D. Stones
The Crimson Ghost may very well be the greatest movie serial ever made, particularly from Republic Pictures. Both William Witney and Fred C. Brannon are credited for directing The Crimson Ghost. Witney is considered the best of the post-War serial directors. His direction credits include: The Mysterious Dr. Satan, Nyoka & The Tigermen (AKA The Perils of Nyoka), Spy Smasher, G-Men vs. The Black Dragon, Jungle Girl and Daredevils of The Red Circle, among many others.
If you’ve ever wondered where Steven Spielberg and George Lucas get some of their ideas for the action sequences in the Indiana Jones movies, just watch one of the above-mentioned serials by Witney and you’ll see where their ideas come from.
The Crimson Ghost was directed in 1946 and concerns a skull-masked maniac who is determined to steal a secret government device known as the Cyclotrode. The device is able to counteract the effects of atomic energy and atomic-operated machines. The Crimson Ghost plans to use the Cyclotrode to neutralize the power of flying planes in the sky and to break into top-secret government buildings to steal government plans.
Clayton Moore, star of the hit 1950s TV series The Lone Ranger, is one of the Crimson Ghost’s henchmen. Most of the action sequences involve his character and the hero of the serial, Professor Duncan Richards, played by serial regular Charles Quigley.
The Crimson Ghost also stars the beautiful Linda Stirling, star of Tiger Woman and Zorro’s Black Whip, as Professor Richards’ assistant.
A VHS video of The Crimson Ghost was released in the mid-1990s in a colorized and condensed version. Accomics in Florida also sells the colorized and condensed version, as well as the full-length black & white version. I do not recommend the colorized version because it is
condensed from a three hour serial to just ninety minutes. I highly recommend the full-length black & white version.
Fans of the 80s punk rock band The Misfits will immediately recognize the skull face of the Crimson Ghost. His face was appropriated as the band’s logo.
For more information about classic movie serials, I recommend the two-volume book Classic Cliffhangers by Hank Davis published in 2007. Happy viewing!