7.3/10
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68 user 38 critic

Phantom Lady (1944)

Not Rated | | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir | 28 January 1944 (USA)
A devoted secretary risks her life to try to find the elusive woman who may prove her boss didn't murder his selfish wife.

Director:

Robert Siodmak

Writers:

Bernard C. Schoenfeld (screenplay), Cornell Woolrich (based on the novel by) (as William Irish)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Franchot Tone ... Jack Marlow
Ella Raines ... Carol Richman
Alan Curtis ... Scott Henderson
Aurora Miranda ... Estela Monteiro (as Aurora)
Thomas Gomez ... Inspector Burgess
Fay Helm ... Ann Terry
Elisha Cook Jr. ... Cliff
Andrew Tombes ... Bartender
Regis Toomey ... Detective
Joseph Crehan ... Detective
Doris Lloyd ... Kettisha
Virginia Brissac ... Dr. Chase
Milburn Stone ... District Attorney (voice)
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Storyline

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 <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

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


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Portuguese

Release Date:

28 January 1944 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Condemned to Hang See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Universal Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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 »

Goofs

When Jack, Carol, and Burgess are in the dressing room, there is only light from the few bulbs around the makeup mirrors. Right after Carol leaves, the lighting of the entire set changes and the room is much brighter with light coming from several different directions. Also, some of the bulbs around the mirrors that were previously missing from their sockets are suddenly present. See more »

Quotes

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

Connections

Referenced in Saboteur: A Closer Look (2001) See more »

Soundtracks

I'll Remember April
(uncredited)
Music by Gene de Paul
Lyrics by Patricia Johnston & Don Raye
[played during opening credits and throughout the movie]
See more »

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User Reviews

Testing the Limits
3 July 2011 | by dougdoepkeSee all my reviews

So how did the producers get that orgasmic release scene past the censors. Sure, Carol (Raines) and Cliff (Cook) are about ten feet apart as he pounds on the drums while she sways back and forth in total sync, their faces contorted in frenzied delight. There's no guesswork here. It's as close to the real thing as the decade gets, and a masterpiece of simulated ecstasy. I wonder what the set was like while filming this.

The movie's a tight little thriller, helmed by noir master Robert Siodmak. So who is it that's framing architect Henderson (Curtis) for his wife's murder. By golly, the lovelorn Carol is going to find out even if it leads her down every dark, scary street on the studio lot. And once she dons her cheap hep-cat outfit, that's just where she's headed. But it's that frenzied jazz scene with Cliff that steals the show. Everything after seems something of an anti-climax. However, be sure to catch that beautifully modulated scene where Carol plies the emotionally disturbed Ann (Helm) for access to the incriminating ladies' hat. It's poignantly done, especially by actress Helm.

No doubt, this is one of the noir highpoints of the period, with dark symbolism and atmospheric shadows aplenty. Also, Raines gives a winning performance as the unstoppable Carol, while Tone wisely refuses to go over the top as the psychopath. On the other hand, it's a good thing we don't see much of Curtis in both a badly written and dimly performed part. I'm guessing Siodmak cared little how that particularly conventional role came across. Anyway, for fans of 40's noir, this Universal programmer remains a must-see.


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