The Phantom – “No Escape”, was a pilot for a proposed TV series based on the Phantom, shot in 1957 in USA. Although it’s believed that the footage was never released by the production company, the pilot has appeared on DVD’s and on the internet.
The project was developed in 1956 (with a targeted release for 1957) with Harold Daniels as director and Roger Creed playing the Phantom.
The title of the pilot episode is “No Escape”. There is a color version, plus a black and white version (as per below).
A hunting party led by Jed (Lon Chaney Jr.) and Mrs. Harris (Paulette Goddard) on horseback, and with a couple leashed leopards, in pursuit of two men in the jungle. Mrs. Harris gives the order to set one of the leopards loose on the men. One man is taken out by the leopard, and the other is shot by Jed as Mrs. Harris warns “No one escapes from the Harris Plantation!”
The man who was shot, isn’t dead, but things look grim as a crocodile inches closer looking for free meal. Luckily, the Phantom just happens to be riding by on Hero, his horse, and with Devil, his wolf, in tow. Leaping into action the Phantom and Devil manage to save the man, and take him to “Territorial Headquarters” and Commissioner Mallory (Reginald Denny). There, as Mr. Walker, the Phantom learns that the man he rescued was actually an undercover agent named Vince Howard who was investigating mistreatment and death of convicts working at the Harris Plantation. With that, the Phantom decides to take up an investigation of his own.
Later a supply truck arrives at the plantation, with several new workers, or “boneheads” as Jed likes to call them. They’re introduced to Mrs. Harris, and told her word is law. Their job? Building a road through the jungle. They’re also told “no one escapes” before being sprayed down with “leopard bait” and then sent off to gather their gear for the job. Big Mike (Richard Kiel) visits the plantation’s resident doctor for some “medicine”, he plans to make a break for it and is confident that he’ll succeed. Another man follows and tells the doctor that the medicine isn’t working! Walker, clad in head bandages and an eye patch, watches and insists the man should be sent to a hospital which would be fine, if it wasn’t for the fact that the doctor is in cahoots with Harris and Jed! The doctor even tips them off about Walker, while at the same time Walker is busy trying to find convicts willing to rat out Harris.
That night, Devil sneaks into the plantation with a message for the Phantom from Mallory. It warns that Big Mike is a killer, but that the Patrol should arrive the next day. The following morning, at breakfast, Big Mike is unhappy with what’s being served and tosses a guy into the mess tent. He takes out 3 or 4 guys before Jed tries to stop him and fails. One of Mrs. Harris’ men draw their rifle, but she insists they don’t shoot Big Mike. Instead they take him down with a giant net and tie him to a tree, leaving him to bake in the sun as punishment. Mrs. Harris comes to Mike with a proposition. Leading him to believe that Walker ratted him out (not the doctor), she’ll let him go if he kills Walker. While Walker is trying to convince some of the other criminals to testify against Harris, Mike makes his move. The men wrestle, trading blows and leaping over horses. Mike almost splits Walker’s head open with an ax, but the Phantom manages to over power the larger man and takes him down with a series of punches! Mrs. Harris begins firing her pistol at the Phantom, until Devil leaps into action and wrestles her to the ground.
The Phantom sends one convict ahead to meet with the patrol, then has Devil drop the convict’s shirt on different part of the trail to throw off the search party led by Jed and his leopards. Apparently Walker hid his costume and horse somewhere in the jungle near the plantation, because when next we see him he’s in costume leaping from Hero’s back and into the trees. Jed separates from the rest of the party to search on his own, while the men let one of the leopards loose to chase down the Phantom. The Ghost Who Walks easily evades the cat, and doubles back to take out the men. Then, as Jed finds the convicts shirt he’s attacked by the leopard, attracted by the bait sprayed on the convicts clothes. Mrs. Harris is taken away by the Patrol as one of the officers offers reduced sentences to the men who testify against her. And with that, the Phantom rides off on Hero, back into the jungle.
- Roger Creed – The Phantom / Mr. Walker
- Paulette Goddard – Mrs. Harris
- Lon Chaney Jr. – Jed
- Reginald Denny – Commissioner R.G. Mallory
- Allan Nixon – Doc Sanders
- Chaino – Chaino
- Marc Davis – Hardy
- Richard Kiel – Big Mike
- Morgan Lane – Lt. Hartwell
- Robert Curtis – Johnson
- Don Garey – Vince Howard
- Glen Marshall – Deek
- Mike De Anda – Jim
- Ewing Miles Brown – Barney
- Bill Coontz – Guard
- Marilyn Gilbert – Diana
- Bob Guthrie – Prison Guard
The production of the TV Pilot was overseen by Robert Gilbert and his assistant Adrian Weiss, with Phantom rights-holders King Features Syndicate directly handling the project in conjunction with Tele Screen Productions Inc.
Louis Weiss and Company were engaged as distributors.
Harold Daniels directed the pilot episode. Writer John Carr (who was overseen by Lee Falk) originally wrote four episodes, but because the pilot was not picked up by a network, the remaining three were never filmed.
Actress Marilyn Manning had originally been cast as Diana Palmer, but never appeared in the pilot. Devil, Hero, and the Jungle Patrol all appear throughout the course of the story.
The pilot is in 2 parts, just under 13 minutes each. They’re in black and white and not in the best visual or sound quality, but they certainly do exist!
Arm Of The Tiger – Script
The ‘Arm of the Tiger’ script written by John Carr, running for 44 pages, believed to be the follow-up story to the above TV Pilot (No Escape), which was scheduled to air in 1962, also staring Roger Creed.
It’s believed that a pilot for ‘Arm of the Tiger’ was never filmed, however a script is in existence (as seen below).