Review: ‘Mystery of the Stuntman’s Ghost,’ an action-packed 1930’s Hollywood western


With the classic intrigue of the suspense thrillers of the 1930s and the rollicking action of the early Hollywood oaters, Darryle Purcelle’s The Hollywood Cowboy series has all the excitement and mystery of a Republic Pictures serial.

Curly Woods, intrepid Hollywood studio PR man, stumbles into conspiracies involving Fifth Column agents and hooded saboteurs, while also rubbing elbows with many luminaries from the Golden Age of Tinseltown.

Mystery of the Stuntman’s Ghost brings our hero to California’s legendary Lone Pines and Alabama Hills location, during the shooting of a Hopalong Cassidy western. It seems a mysterious phantom has been setting lethal booby traps for Curly’s stuntwoman girlfriend, and the studio fixer means to protect her…only to discover the hard way that he has now become targeted for elimination.

There’s a lot of name-dropping for fans of the era, with William (Hoppy) Boyd and George (Gabby) Hayes playing supporting roles. There’s a bar fight, a shootout, chases on horseback, a villainous conspiracy, and charming innuendo galore.

Though the short story has about as much “weird supernatural” content as an episode of Scooby Doo, it’s a wonderfully fun, pulpy mash-up of western moviemaking and pre-noir suspense thrillers. where white hats, horses, determined heroes, adoring girlfriends, four-door DeSotos, and Nazi saboteurs co-exist.