Gene Autry and The Phantom Empire: The Cowboy in the Wired West of the Future
MetadataShow full metadata
In 1935, budding cowboy singing star Gene Autry appeared in the Mascot Pictures serial 'The Phantom Empire.' The film offers a blending of the Western and science fiction genres, and Autry employs such modern devices as aircraft, radio, television, and even laser rays to protect Radio Ranch from the predatory designs of evil scientists and business interests seeking to exploit the radium deposits found in the subterranean city of Murania, located below the ranch. Autry is able to save the ranch from these threats, both alien and domestic, by completing his scheduled radio broadcasts. The premise of the film is that the Western environment may only be preserved through an adaptation to modernism, which will reduce regional isolationism and ensure the overall survival of the American West. Thus, as the protagonist of 'The Phantom Empire' portraying himself, Autry appears as somewhat of a New Deal cowboy protecting the common people of the West from greedy outside business interests.