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
January 18, 2020 Subject:
Gene Autry in a Musical Sci-Fi Mix-up
Gene Autry is his usual affable plain-talking, song-singing self in this 69:00 condensation of the 12-part serial "The Phantom Empire." Thus it winds up lacking continuity and becomes half musical, half sci-fi/adventure film. What concerns Autry most throughout the film is being back at Radio Ranch for his 2pm broadcast. Meanwhile, problems come up with the Muranians, who live almost 5 miles underground and have a very advanced civilization as far as scientific accomplishments are concerned. For some reason they come above ground and are seen by Autry - being seen by a surface dweller is a big no-no. So, Dorothy Christy (Queen Tika) calls for Autry's capture and execution. Dorothy Christy had a long career, appearing in 108 movies/TV shows between 1929-53, often playing opposite famous comic stars. Here, her acting is so stiff as to be laughable. A complication on the surface arises with the arrival of some greedy and crooked scientists after Murania's radium deposits. Meanwhile, Frankie Darro and Betsy Ross King, who at age 13 was already a great horse rider, create a children's group, the National Thunder Riders, dressed after some Muranians they saw, with tin bucket helmets and cloaks as a research and rescue team. Problems below develop when it turns out that there is a revolutionary factor underground plotting to overthrow the queen. Mix all this together with Autry's need to be home at 2pm for a broadcast and you get the gist of the film. I haven't watched it yet, but I think the 12-eoisode, 254:00 must be better than this 69:00 version also known as "Radio Ranch". Nevertheless, entertaining, often unintentionally funny and, overall, innovative as a sci-fi/western mix with songs.
May 8, 2014 Subject:
December 30, 2011 Subject:
Something Is Missing...
It would have been nice to have the opening scene or credits at the beginning of the serial, as it does explain that this is a re-release movie version of this serial.
Orvon Grover Autry
ORVAN? No wonder he became kbnown as "Gene"!
The Singing Cowboy
5' 9" (1.75 m)
After high school Gene Autry worked as a laborer for the St. Louis and San Francisco Railroad in Oklahoma. Next he was a telegrapher. In 1928 he began singing on a local radio station, and three years later he had his own show and was making his first recordings.
Three years after that he made his film debut in Ken Maynard's In Old Santa Fe (1934) and starred in a 13-part serial the following year for Mascot Pictures, The Phantom Empire (1935).
The next year he signed a contract with Republic Pictures and began making westerns. Autry--for better or worse--pretty much ushered in the era of the "singing cowboy" westerns of the 1930s and 1940s (in spite of the presence in his oaters of automobiles, radios and airplanes).
These films often grossed ten times their average $50,000 production costs.
During World War II he enlisted in the US Army and was assigned as a flight officer from 1942-46 with the Air Transport Command. After his military service he returned to making movies, this time with Columbia Pictures, and finally with his own company, Flying A Productions, which, during the 1950s, produced his TV series "The Gene Autry Show" (1950), "The Adventures of Champion" (1955), and "Annie Oakley" (1954).
Gene Autry produced the Annie Oakley Show? Shows what I dunno.
He wrote over 200 songs. A savvy businessman, he retired from acting in the early 1960s and became a multi-millionaire from his investments in hotels, real estate, radio stations and the California Angels professional baseball team.