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Phantom Lady (1944)

Passed  |   |  Crime, Drama, Film-Noir  |  28 January 1944 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.4/10 from 2,325 users  
Reviews: 53 user | 26 critic

A beautiful secretary risks her life to try to find the elusive woman who may prove her boss didn't murder his selfish wife.



(screenplay), (based on the novel by) (as William Irish)
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Complete credited cast:
Aurora Miranda ...
Estela Monteiro (as Aurora)
Inspector Burgess
Fay Helm ...
Andrew Tombes ...
Joseph Crehan ...
Doris Lloyd ...
Virginia Brissac ...
Dr. Chase
District Attorney


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 <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

secretary | murder | bar | prison | hat | See All (45) »


The most talked about mystery in ten years! See more »


Passed | See all certifications »





Release Date:

28 January 1944 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Condemned to Hang  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


After the film's release, Jacques Press and Eddie Cherkose sued Universal for $20,000 for not getting on-screen credit for their song "Chick-ee-Chick." See more »


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 »


[first lines]
Ann Terry: [to bartender] Give me a nickel, please.
See more »


References Swiss Miss (1938) See more »


(1944) (uncredited)
Music by Jacques Press
Lyrics by Eddie Cherkose
Performed by Aurora Miranda and showgirls at the Casino
See more »

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User Reviews

Top notch film noir
7 April 2004 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Scott Henderson (Alan Curtis) is unjustly accused of killing his unfaithful wife. The night she was murdered he was out with a mystery woman who refused to give him her name. After accused of the murder, the police visit all the places he had been with her, but people only remember him being alone. He's sentenced to die and his secretary (Ella Raines) sets out to find the murderer herself because she loves him.

This was made as a B film from Universal (look at the cast--all character actors and one star--Franchot Tone--on the decline). The budget was small and the cast mostly unknown but what came out is one of the best film noirs of the 1940s. It's beautifully directed by Curt Siodmak and has a fantastic script that came from an excellent book by William Irish (a pen name for Cornell Woolrich). It moves quickly and just looks fantastic. And there's the infamous jam session with Raines and Elisha Cook Jr. which just comes off the screen with incredible sexual energy (I'm surprised the censors didn't cut it).

There are only a few flaws that prevent this from being perfect. Tone gives a dreadful performance. He looks ghastly and he's just horrible. Also Curtis is stiff and bland as Henderson. You really wonder why Raines loves him--he's so unemotional. But Raines is pretty good in the lead role. She's pretty and full of life. Also the last scene when the murderer is after her never rings true. He's hardly a threat physically and her reactions just seem overstated.

Still I'm giving this a 9. A really great film--flaws aside.

8 of 14 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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