(1/10) In a nutshell: Tim McCoy’s really big hat delivers the best performance in this awfully derivative and amateurishly made sci-fi-tinged modern western. Ghost Patrol marks the beginning of the surge of American death ray films, and fortunately the demise of the first wave of sci-fi westerns.
Ghost Patrol. USA, 1936. Directed by Sam Newfield. Written by Wyndham Gittens. Starring: Tim McCoy, Tim McCoy’s really big hat, Claudia Dell, Walter Miller, Wheeler Oakman, James P. Burtis, Lloyd Ingraham, Dick Curtis. Produced by Sigmund Neufeld & Leslie Simmons for Excelcior Pictures Corp. IMDb score: 4.8
The second half of the thirties saw a brief upturn in the interest of science fiction with the rising popularity of pulp magazines, long-running comics in newspapers, and of course cinema serials like Flash Gordon (1936, review). The mad scientist theme had also taken hold, starting with Frankenstein in 1931 (review). Although the serials The Voice from the Sky (1930) and The Whispering Shadow (1933, review) had toyed with the concept, the classic serial concept of the megalomaniac villain threatening the world with outlandish weapons had not yet taken root fully in 1936. In Ghost Patrol we therefore get a perfectly sane scientist, who nonetheless has created a ray that can shoot planes from the sky, who gets kidnapped by a band of bandits. Oh, should I say western bandits. We also get western star Tim McCoy with a big hat (it is really, really big). Oh, and there are no ghosts in the film. Nor really any patrols, either. It is slightly unclear where the name comes from. Continue reading