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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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Near the end, when Carol (aka Kansas) is in Jack's apartment, she places the hat on a large statue-head, then tends to Jack who is lying down. When she then walks to the bedroom, the hat is no longer on the statue. See more »
Scott Henderson, the engineer that employs Carol Richman, as his assistant, makes a point to call her "Kansas", whenever he speaks to her. It shows us that Carol, effectively played by Ella Raines, is supposed to be a babe in the woods, as far as the Manhattan of the 40s was concerned. Only a woman, from out of town, would follow the shady bartender to a solitary elevated subway. Even then, only a naive girl could undertake such an adventure.
Robert Siodmak directed this film noir very well. He shows a flair for infusing the story with a lot of raw sex that was surprising for those days. How else could we justify the way the drummer in the orchestra of the musical, where Scott takes the mysterious woman with an unusual hat, makes such an overt pass at a lady on a date? The drummer played with high voltage by Elisha Cook Jr. doesn't hide his desires for any of the ladies who sat in the front row of the hit musical where he plays. It was a real explicit invitation, first to the "phantom woman" of the story, Fay Helm; afterward, Cliff the drummer, insinuates himself very openly to Ella Raines who goes to the theater disguised as the mystery dame her boss had taken originally.
This is a film that will hook any viewer from the beginning. There are things not explained in it, but it holds the one's interest throughout. The killer is not revealed until the end.
Ella Raines with her expressive eyes was an under estimated actress. She holds her own against much more experienced actors. Franchot Tone, a New York stage actor, working in Hollywood, never found in this medium the fame he deserved. He is effective as the accused man's best friend. On the other hand, Alan Curtis, comes across as a man, who when framed, accepts his fate and is saved only by the tenacity of the woman who secretly loved him. Thomas Gomez, as the inspector Burgess, is an asset to the film as a detective who has his doubts the police had caught the man who committed the crime.
This movie will not disappoint.
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