Opening with NBC announcer Graham McNamee explaining the film's radio contest origins, The Phantom of Crestwood settles down to mystery-thriller business as usual. Owing the usual debt of gratitude to Spooky Old Mansion classics such as The Cat and the Canary, this mildly entertaining whodunit is blessed with an above-average cast and some fine camerawork by Harry Gerrard, who was undoubtedly inspired by working with associate producer Merian C. Cooper, the co-creator of King Kong. Leading man Ricardo Cortez is his affable self, but the real surprise here is a very young Karen Morley playing her tired prostitute with tongue firmly placed in cheek. Pauline Frederick, a major stage and silent screen star, lends her near-legendary dignity to her arrogant Old California aristocrat and Sam Hardy performs yet another of his patented musical comedy gangsters. Further down the cast list, silent screen femme fatales Mary Duncan and Aileen Pringle are rather wasted in colorless supporting roles, but Hilda Vaughn is hilarious in her brief bit as Morley's no-nonsense maid. The tie-in to the popular NBC radio program made The Phantom of Crestwood a minor box-office winner for RKO and young producer David O. Selznick.
by Hans J. Wollstein review