This is a movie that sends its jungle-dwelling, leotard-wearing hero to New York City; makes careful mention of the fact that he attended college there, which suggests he must have some degree of smarts; and then has him pay an incredulous cab driver with a pocket full of jewels, because that’s the only thing of value he bothered to bring with him. It’s ridiculous, and it pulls you out of the movie to ask yourself, “Wait... what?” It’d be very easy to ding The Phantom for the many WTF moments like this one, but—like Billy Zane’s campy performance—it’s too goofy and earnest to hate it. Look, if you want darkness, gloom, existential pain, and cynicism, there are a zillion other superhero movies you could watch instead.
Ron Nos has a far different sense of aesthetics than L. Ron. L..Ron thought that looking like a buffoon was looking good. He liked deep shadow, his hand over his face to show thought, sailor suits and the dumbest looking cowboy clothes money could buy. He thought he looked robust. I thought he looked like he couldn’t control his weight. There are ways that a person in late middle age with few handsome features can be photographed to look good. Look at what Karsh did. Think of his photos of Einstein, Hemingway and Churchill. A portrait artist has to be able to connect the man or woman to his inner self and have the audience believe it. Hubbard’s photographers couldn’t say no to him, obviously.