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Weird Western: The Phantom Empire (1935)

I used to have my own singing cowboy show, years ago. It was at a theater in Omaha, and every Sunday I would dress up in cowboy duds, play ukulele and sing cowboy songs, tell short stories, and provide other stage performances meant for children. I also showed episodes of the Gene Autry movie serial "The Phantom Empire." The kids seemed enjoyably baffled by it, and that seems about the best reaction, as it is an enjoyably baffling film.

The whole plot of the film revolves around Autry's ranch being on top of a vast and ancient world, buried deep beneath the earth, which possesses futuristic technology. Apparently, the film's creator, Wallace MacDonald, conceived the idea while under gas for a tooth extraction, but I should point out that he is not the first to conceive of Los Angeles being on top of an ancient race.

No, in fact, in 1934, the year before this film came out, geophysicist G. Warren Shufelt declared his belief that the entirety of Los Angeles was built …

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