#20 – Skull and Jones and the Return of the Scarlet Ghost

(1942, US, 83 min, b/w) Dir Irving Pichel. Cast Preston Foster, Susan Hayward, Rita Johnson, Joe E. Brown.

Two years from the Scarlet Ghost’s first appearance and for America the war is now in full swing. Joe E. Brown is shipping magnate Forster Blueford who hires our crime fighting hero and his disembodied pal to investigate the sabotage happening in the docks, sending his secretary Hayward along for the ride. Of course the Germans are responsible and at their head is the Ghost herself, who by this time has morphed into the blonde Rita Johnson and has been rebranded as the head witch of an occult wing of the Nazi party. She kidnaps Skull and hypnotises Jones into a hallucinating stupor and reprogrammes him with anti-American sentiment to act as their stooge. Of course he can’t follow through, stopping before he can strangle Blueford as bidden and rescuing Skull but getting the slip from the Scarlet Ghost, who makes off in a U-boat to plot another day. Great fun that belies it’s propaganda purposes with Preston Foster now wearing the role as comfortably as an old jumper, chatting away to his skull in a bag as though it were the most normal thing in the world.

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