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The Phantom Lady (1944)


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The Phantom Lady (1944) Director Robert Siodmak, with Franchot Tone as Jack Marlow, Ella Raines as Carol Richman, Alan Curtis as Scott Henderson, Aurora Miranda as Estela Monteiro, Thomas Gomez as Inspector Burgess, Fay Helm as Ann Terry, Elisha Cook Jr. as Cliff, and Regis Toomey as Detective Chewing Gum.






A sort of a flimsy implausible story on this one that started out very good then disintegrates, but it has some interesting sequences that I liked a lot.


An unhappily married Scott Henderson waiting to attend a show is stood up by his wife at a bar. Frustrated, he notices that a hat-wearing woman seated also at the bar looks lost and in distress. He makes some small talk with her and first offers her the show tickets to try and cheer her up, but one thing leads to another and he ends up spending the evening on a no-name basis with her. Returning home, he finds his wife strangled and the police waiting and he becomes the prime suspect in her murder. Every effort to prove his alibi fails; oddly no one seems to remember seeing the phantom lady (or her hat). Scott is convicted and sent to Sing Sing. His secretary, "Kansas," (Raines) sets out to locate the "phantom" lady.


An interesting mix of unlikely characters with probably husky Thomas Gomez as the Inspector being the most surprising. This film looks entirely shot in the studio with nicely detailed sets and matte paintings, one that represents one of the old New York City El stations is magnificent. There are a series of sequences where Raines, dressed up as a two bit floozy, seduces orchestra drummer Elisha Cook Jr. to get information, and they head off to a wild jazz band rehearsal in a tenement basement before they end up in Cook's crash pad.


All in all, the jazz, the characters, and the sets are great, the story so so. Ella Raines is wonderful in this,and I like the way you don't know at first who the main protagonists are going to be, but in order for everything to make sense you're asked to swallow that Marlow killed the wife suddenly on impulse then spied on Henderson's every move with enough cash in his pocket to pay off every body Henderson came in contact with, then hangs around making sure that nobody spills the beans, then after killing Cliff removes all evidence of "Kansas" being there in Cliff's apartment and then keeps that evidence in a draw in his studio. come on.....7/10

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