Tim McCoy stars as FBI agent Tim Caverly masquerading as outlaw Tim Toomey, insinuating himself in a gang that is somehow connected to a string of mail plane robberies. While on the case, he meets up with the daughter of a missing radium scientist, played by Claudia Dell. It is this scientist that transforms what would otherwise have been a typical story of mail robbery along the Pony Express. Instead of being set in the Old West, this story is set in the modern day and these ne'erdowells have been using advanced science to fell airplanes.
Ghost Patrol was one of the first in a relatively new genre, as the Westerns of the 1930's and 40's already differed from those that came before. The basic types of Western plots had already been done, and filmmakers were looking for a new gimmick. The year before, they piled it on by introducing the Singing Cowboy type in Gene Autry, then threw him in on gangsters and lost Scientifictional civilizations. Ghost Patrol tried a similar Sci-Fi approach, through without the insanity of The Phantom Empire.
It is a game attempt, but falters primarily on account of Tim McCoy. It is painfully easy to see, using such examples, how someone like Roy Rogers became such a superstar. He has things like talent, screen presence, charisma, and even a certain degree of acting range, however perpetually cheery he may seem. McCoy is an older type of cowboy actor, whose emotions are conveyed with the percentage of white visible in his eyes. He is inserted into the role to make sure there is a warm body under the very large hat, but never owns the movie.
Ghost Patrol is a fun little hour, and what does one have to lose? Still, it is overshadowed, and rightfully so, by stars like Rogers and serials like The Phantom Empire.
The complete Ghost Patrol (1936)