Chances are that most viewers will never get to see Phantom of the Rue Morgue as it was originally presented, i.e. in 3-D -- and that's a shame. There's so little else to recommend Phantom that taking away its major technical enticement just isn't fair. Make no mistake about it, Phantom is bad; to be fair, however, it's the kind of bad that can be a lot of fun when it's late at night and one is in a mood to laugh at rather than with a movie. The screenplay is a mish mash of plot strands, more or less thrown together in a way that just makes sense, even if it sometimes defies logic. The dialogue is over ripe to a delightful degree, filled with clichés and trite sayings. And, of course, the screenplay leaves plenty of room for a variety of objects to be thrust into the lens of the 3-D camera in a manner that is quite amusing. No one expects great acting from films of this sort, and Karl Malden willingly obliges, turning in a truly awful performance as the villain that takes hamminess to new extremes. Roy Del Ruth wins no points for his direction, but at least he's made a film that provides entertainment, albeit not necessarily of the kind he intended.
by Craig Butler review