RALEIGH — What was the thing nature had spawned on the ocean floor? Find out when the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences hosts “The Phantom from 10,000 Leagues” on First Friday, November 2 at 7pm. Free.
When charred, radioactive fishermen begin to drift ashore, a government agent investigates the phenomenon, only to find a hideous atomic mutant lurking beneath the waves and a secret lurking in the heart of a local marine biology professor. “Phantom” (1955) stars Kent Taylor (investigator), Michael Whalen (scheming Dr. King) and Cathy Downs (Mrs. Schemer).
Taylor appeared in more than 100 films during his career, which peaked in the mid-1930s with roles alongside Fredric March, Will Rogers and Don Ameche. By the ‘40s he was busy with the B’s, then moved on to TV in the ‘50s with a solid three-year run as the crime-solving title character in “Boston Blackie” and numerous appearances on popular westerns from “Zorro” to “The Rifleman.” He refused to give up acting in the ‘60s and ‘70s, instead achieving cult infamy for appearances in some of the worst movies ever made, including “The Crawling Hand” and “Blood of Ghastly Horror.”
Whalen, a former vaudeville singer and Woolworths manager, was a fairly busy leading man in B movies of the mid-1930s. By the late ‘30s he had worked his way up to the “adult male lead” role in two Shirley Temple movies (“Poor Little Rich Girl” and “Wee Willie Winkie”) and starred as newsman Barney Callahan in a string of murder mystery tales (“Time Out for Murder,” “While New York Sleeps” and “Inside Story”). “Phantom” and “Missile to the Moon” (1958) were his last credited movie roles, but he did manage to appear in television series ranging from “Lassie” to “Bat Masterson” to “Sea Hunt.” Downs started her career with a bang, playing the title role in John Ford’s “My Darling Clementine” (1946) alongside Henry Fonda and Victor Mature, but most of her subsequent movie roles were in low-budget westerns and horror pictures, including “Missile to the Moon.”
“Phantom” (1955) was one of only three films ever directed by Dan Milner, who made a much larger contribution as editor of dozens of mostly obscure films in the 1930s and ‘40s. Milner later served as editor for 136 episodes of “Bozo: The World’s Most Famous Clown” television series from 1959-1962, and for 18 episodes of the animated “Popeye the Sailor” series in 1960.
Calling all teens! Arrive early (6pm) to learn about space exploration and the search for life beyond Earth as Nature Research Center astrochemist Rachel Smith joins us for this month’s Teen Science Café, held in the new wing’s Daily Planet Café (121 West Jones Street).
The Museum and the new Nature Research Center stay open from 5 to 9 pm on the First Friday of every month, inviting visitors to witness a (classic) sci-fi or horror movie, wander through eye-catching exhibits, or enjoy food and beverages at the Daily Planet Café. “Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition ” is now open and First Friday visitors can see it at a discounted rate ($3 off adult tickets). Additionally, the Museum Store offers after-hours shopping and an opening reception (6:30-8:30pm) for award-winning landscape photographer Scott Hotaling, whose show “Light of the Wild” runs November 2 – December 2 in the Nature Art Gallery. All exhibited art is for sale.