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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good
Scott Henderson (Alan Curtis) meets a mystery woman (Fay Helm) in a bar and invites her to see a show with him. She agrees on condition that they don't swap any information about each other - not even names. Sometimes these are the best kind of dates. However, when he returns to his apartment, Inspector Burgess (Thomas Gomez) and his team are waiting for him. Scott's wife...
Published on 11 Mar. 2009 by Alex da Silva

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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Three stars - for Ella Raines
I bought this DVD solely as a fan of the lovely Ella Raines, who didn't make nearly enough movies in her career, a fact which may sometimes tempt us to overvalue the ones which do exist. And I certainly think that Phantom Lady is overrated by a mile. She is engaging and watchable as always, but sadly the film is a dud and it starts with the script. The underlying plot of...
Published 21 months ago by Brian S. Meredith


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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, 11 Mar. 2009
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This review is from: Phantom Lady [DVD] (DVD)
Scott Henderson (Alan Curtis) meets a mystery woman (Fay Helm) in a bar and invites her to see a show with him. She agrees on condition that they don't swap any information about each other - not even names. Sometimes these are the best kind of dates. However, when he returns to his apartment, Inspector Burgess (Thomas Gomez) and his team are waiting for him. Scott's wife has been murdered. His alibi is the mystery woman but no-one can remember seeing her and, as a result of this, Scott is sentenced to die for the murder of his wife. His secretary Kansas (Ella Raines) is not convinced of his guilt and sets out to find the woman who can save him from the death penalty.

This is a good film and the viewer is 100% behind the attempts of Kansas to get to the truth. We follow her through some memorable scenes, eg, her pursuit of Mac the bartender (Andrew Tombes) at night and the claustrophobic venue where Cliff the drummer (Elisha Cook Jr) takes her to hang out, drink and dance while he jams with his friends. This is such a blatant depiction of sexual desire that it is a stand-out part of the film as everyone sweats intensely and rhythmically for the duration of the scene. Ella Raines is good in the female lead role and Thomas Gomez makes a likable policeman. Alan Curtis started well as the confused, innocent man, but once he is arrested his performance took a left turn as he became thoroughly unpleasant to Kansas for no reason. God knows why she stuck by him.

The film doesn't keep you guessing as to who the murderer is as we know from about halfway through the film, but this doesn't matter. In fact, it adds to the tension and dramatic development of the story as we will Kansas to discover what is going on and then to get the hell out! It's a good film with some great scenes but although Elisha Cook Jr has a memorable role, I just never like him in anything that I see him in....someone hand me a neck-tie.....
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Off kilter but always watchable, 10 July 2013
By 
The CinemaScope Cat - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Phantom Lady [DVD] (DVD)
After a fight with his wife, a man (Alan Curtis) spends the evening with a mysterious woman (Fay Helm). When he returns home, he is met by the police who inform him his wife has been murdered. As the prime suspect, he explains to the police that he spent the evening in the company of a lady. But when the police question witnesses who might corroborate his story, they deny they saw any woman in his company! Based on the novel of the same name by Cornell Woolrich (REAR WINDOW), this slice of noir pulp as directed by Robert Siodmak (THE SPIRAL STAIRCASE) has all the right ingredients: atmospheric shading and lighting, a psychopath lurking under the veneer of normalcy, an innocent man accused of murder, etc. The film is erratic and the film is clearly a case of a whole being greater than the sum of its parts. Some of the acting is pretty bad, particularly the charmless Curtis, but the winsome Ella Raines as his secretary compensates. The film contains one of the weirdest segments I've ever seen: Elisha Cook Jr. as a hopped up drummer leering at Raines from the orchestra and later takes her to a jazz jam session that's filmed as if he's taking her to a drug den with all the musician in the throes of sheer ecstasy (or weed?). It has to be seen to be believed. With Franchot Tone, Thomas Gomez and Aurora Miranda.

The Spirit DVD could have used some sprucing up (debris, lines etc.) but on the whole, the transfer is eminently watchable.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Film Reviewed Only., 14 Oct. 2012
By 
Spike Owen "John Rouse Merriott Chard" (Birmingham, England.) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Phantom Lady [DVD] (DVD)
Paranoiacs, all of them!

Phantom Lady is directed by Robert Siodmak and adapted to screenplay by Bernard C. Schoenfeld from the story written by Cornell Woolrich (pseudonym William Irish). It stars Ella Raines, Franchot Tone, Alan Curtis, Thomas Gomez, Elisha Cook Jr and Fay Helm. Music is by Hans J. Salter and cinematography by Woody Bredell.

Out drowning his sorrows, Scott Henderson (Curtis) meets an equally unhappy woman in a bar, agreeing to her request to not exchange names, but to merely enjoy each others company, Henderson takes her to a show. Upon returning home Henderson finds his wife has been strangled and he is arrested as the prime suspect for the murder. When he frantically tries to prove he has an alibi by way of the "phanton lady" he spent the evening with, he comes up against a wall of silence with nobody able to prove he was with anybody. The electric chair awaits unless someone can prove his alibi. Enter Henderson's intrepid secretary Kansas Richman, who not only carries a torch for her boss, but appears to be his only hope of proving his innocence...

An important film in the film noir cycle given that its success kicked opened further the American doorway for German director Robert Siodmak (The Killers); something that all fellow film noir fans are eternally grateful for. Often cited as a top draw noir or one of the best from the early 40s output, it's a frustrating experience in many ways. Undeniably the middle third is an absolute visual treasure, where Siodmak and Bredell (also The Killers) craft the essential film noir style with highly detailed shadows and lighting gaining maximum atmospheric impact. An extended sequence that sees the wonderful Raines (Impact) stalk a witness through dark and dank streets to a subway station is clinical in its photographic brilliance. I love the quote from Bredell where he said that after being coached by Siodmak he felt he could light a football pitch with only a match! This middle third of Phantom Lady is the meeting of two visual minds and it's a class combination.

Elsewhere Siodmak emphasises objects and weird art to keep his world off kilter, while a key character's obsession with his hands also keeps things simmering in the realm of the strange. There's also a "famed" suggestive sex scene as Elisha Cook Jr (as always, memorable) pounds his drum kit to a climax as Raines positively smoulders in front of him. All of these things are set to the backdrop of a ticking clock format, where the innocent Henderson's life hangs in the balance. These are all film noir traits and executed with such skill it hides the fact that the film is primarily studio bound, in fact this can be seen as a marker for how to do "studio noir" effectively.

Unfortunately there is good reason why Phantom Lady is divisive in film noir circles. The dialogue is often plain daft, almost as daft as the plot itself. The murderer is revealed at the mid point and therefore we are robbed of the mystery element and sadly it sign posts the finale as being obvious and disappointing. Plot in the final third puts our heroine in constant danger at the hands of the real murderer, suspense is meant to be wrung out, but it never hits home the way it should. While on the acting front Curtis is too stiff to really make a telling innocent man hanging by a thread character and Tone is equally as flat in a critical role. However, do these things stop Phantom Lady from being a great film? No, I don't think so, there's just too much good in the mix to stop it from deserving some of the (admittedly exaggerated) praise put its way. 7.5/10
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Why is the darn hat so Important???, 23 Jun. 2013
By 
A. W. Wilson - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Phantom Lady [DVD] (DVD)
And why do I like this daft film so much? The script is all over the place-full of inconsistencies and unbelievable dialogue and action. To go into all the holes in the plot would be to divulge too much of the twisted plot. Suffice to say, that, even with all it's faults I think this is a great "Film Noir". Tremendous moody photography, and steady direction from Siodmak, and a class "A" performence from a radiant Ella Raines, plus a standout act from Elisha Cook Jnr (Was there ever a "Snr"?) who probably does the worst ever mime of a drummer, tho the solo in the seedy club is outstanding (Contrary to the opinion of a fellow reviewer, I always find Cook absolutely riveting!), all combine to vercome the script problems. Great fun, but...Once again SPIRIT have relaesed a less than excellent print. The picture is acceptable but the sound level is variable and very sibilant in places, but the SPIRIT price on Amazon is good and it is still quite watchable, just not perfect. Recomended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An early noir classic., 10 Aug. 2014
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This review is from: Phantom Lady [DVD] (DVD)
Director Robert Siodmak saved this rather formulaic film by giving visual distinction with noir undertones to its look and some darkly humoured scenes which hint at more than is explored. The film has a lot of hype written about it and coming late to its DVD release it's interesting to note how previous reviews are driven by personal tastes. But then why 5 stars? Primarily because of Soidmak, the lighting, the use of street scenes, the impression of heat at night, Ella Raines herself and that underrated actor Thomas Gomaz, and, as mentioned, the noir humour. Although in terms of the plot ...what happened in regard to the taxi driver?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Film Noir, 25 Dec. 2012
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This review is from: Phantom Lady (1944) (DVD)
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.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ellava Gal, 14 Sept. 2013
This review is from: Phantom Lady [DVD] (DVD)
Some really effective moments in a generally excellent noir from Robert Siodmak. The scene in the jazz 'jam' is remarkable as an 'ecstatic' Elisha Cook gets all excited at Ella Raines' pretend 'hep kitten'. Another one on the train station as she stalks a baddie. Another one in a tension filled climax. Just not quite mysterious enough in the end despite a very promising opening. Nevertheless, Ella carries the film - she is just class and I can't quite see why she wasn't one of the biggest stars in Hollywood - she is fascinating. The others performances are ok. Franchot Tone is nicely twitchy.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Film Noir, by The Killers director, Robert Siodmark - turns cliche on its head!, 10 April 2015
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This review is from: Phantom Lady [DVD] (DVD)
I loved this 40s black and white film noir, directed by Robert Siodmark, who was something of a genius at this sort of thing - if you haven't seen The Killers with Burt Lancaster or Cry of the City with Victor Mature, you haven't lived, movie-wise! Ella Raines makes a very pretty but strong leading lady and Alan Curtis is suitably handsome as the hero, who is falsely convicted of killing his wife, with only his loyal secretary (Raines) believing in his innocence and trying to track down the real killer, a journey that takes her into a strange and surreal sub-world, peopled with odd and menacing characters. The Phantom Lady of the title is the woman who could provide Curtis with an alibi, but everyone who saw them together denies it. Why? However, the real star of this film is the cinematography, reminiscent of Fritz Lang, with stunning sets and an eerie atmosphere that reminded me of Jacques Tourneur's seminal horror film, Cat People. The story is innovative, with lots of non-cliched scary scenes along the way. The print is mostly very good, although its a bit scratchy in the earlier scenes, and the sound needed to be turned up really high.
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4.0 out of 5 stars average to good film noir., 29 Jan. 2015
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This review is from: Phantom Lady [DVD] (DVD)
Excellent service, good film, but not the very best.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Three stars - for Ella Raines, 10 July 2013
By 
Brian S. Meredith "Brian" (Exeter) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Phantom Lady [DVD] (DVD)
I bought this DVD solely as a fan of the lovely Ella Raines, who didn't make nearly enough movies in her career, a fact which may sometimes tempt us to overvalue the ones which do exist. And I certainly think that Phantom Lady is overrated by a mile. She is engaging and watchable as always, but sadly the film is a dud and it starts with the script. The underlying plot of an innocent man unable to prove his innocence seems reasonable enough but almost everything else which happens is completely unbelievable. Hitchcock loved to refer to the McGuffin and boy, there's certainly a McGuffin in this film. It's a hat. OK, there's some nice high-contrast night photography and a couple of atmospheric rain-soaked streets, but this can't make up for the real visual weakness of the film which is the very obvious lack of actual location shooting. In too many scenes the painted backdrops and mattes are just a little bit obvious. Besides, no amount of applied style can make up for the fact that the plot is both interminably slow - most of the way the audience will be about two pages ahead of the cast who are having to drag the script along with them - interrupted by sudden plot twists which are unexpected only because they are implausible.
In the one scene everyone writes about, with Elisha Cook Jnr. miming to Gene Krupa's drumming, Ella Raines achieves quite a tour-de-force of acting. She's enticingly convincing as a wild and easy bad girl but also manages simultaneously to convey to the audience (and maybe to reassure the censor as well) that she's actually still a good girl really underneath all that lipgloss, lace and jive frenzy. It's quite an achievement. A number of reviewers have expressed surprise that this erotically charged scene got past the censors of the day. Maybe that's how.
One interesting aspect is the relationship between Raines' character and the police Inspector who, having first arrested her boss is now trying to help her prove his innocence. This same situation was revisited some five years later in another Ella Raines movie, the definitely superior B movie 'Impact' (1949) with Brian Donlevy, a film which does out-perform its budget. Once again we find Ella trying to save her man from the electric chair with the help of a curmudgeonly but trustworthy policeman. This time the McGuffin is a Chinese maid in San Francisco.
Yes, she's quite a gal.
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Phantom Lady [DVD]
Phantom Lady [DVD] by Robert Siodmark (DVD - 2013)
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