A man is found murdered, with witnesses convinced about the woman they saw leaving his apartment. However, it becomes apparent that the woman has a twin, and finding out which one is the killer seems impossible.
Olivia de Havilland,
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Unhappily married Scott Henderson spends the evening on a no-name basis with a hat-wearing woman he picked up in a bar. Returning home, he finds his wife strangled and becomes the prime suspect in her murder. Every effort to establish his alibi fails; oddly no one seems to remember seeing the phantom lady (or her hat). In prison, Scott gives up hope but his faithful secretary, "Kansas," doggedly follows evanescent clues through shadowy nocturnal streets. Can she save Scott in time? Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
During the theatre visit, near the beginning of the film (c.5 minutes), we hear a loud and isolated cymbal crash but the percussionist/kit player does not move at all at this point. It is inconceivable that a pit orchestra would employ a second percussion player and the plot-reason for this isolated cymbal crash is clearly that the drummer (Cliff) is distracted by the "Phantom Lady" in the audience. See more »
Robert Siodmak does a fabulous job with this B noir starring Ella Raines, Franchot Tone, and Alan Curtis. And he does it, I might add, without a lot of help from his male actors, i.e., Curtis and Tone. It's Raines all the way, a pretty, leggy actress who for one reason or another never reached the status of some of her "noir" counterparts.
Siodmak's use of sex, light, shadows, and music is truly remarkable as he tackles this genre. The shadows, lighting effects, and camera angles are all effective. But the highlight of the film takes place in a nightclub with a very sexual drum riff by Elisha Cook, egged on by an excited Raines. It's this scene that brings "Phantom Lady" into new territory.
Siodmak's commitment to the material is matched only by Raines, who gives a sincere performance as a woman in love trying to save her man. Franchot Tone phoned this one in. Alan Curtis didn't seem upset that he might die and didn't seem happy that he lived. And he never, except for a brief moment in prison, seemed to be in love with Raines.
The amusing thing about many of these films is that, as World War II progressed, interest in psychiatry deepened. But often the terms were used incorrectly in films such as "Possessed," "Spellbound," and "The Greatest Show on Earth." Tone is called paranoid by Thomas Gomez - Tone probably has some paranoia attached to his disorder, but he appears to be closer to a psychopath. In actuality, as evidenced by his headaches, he may have had a brain tumor pushing against his brain.
Phantom Lady doesn't have the greatest plot, but it's well worth watching.
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