Phantom Lady (1944) Based on a 1942 novel by Cornell Woolrich / William Irish, 1944

UK 2019 Arrow Academy Blu-ray edition with reversible sleeve

The Legendary Film Noir actress Ella Raines as the Secretary Angel from Heaven

Text written 2020-06-23

Film Noir on Youtube

When i first wrote this text in 2013 this Film Noir classic hadn't been released on a DVD or Blu-ray in USA (only on an old VHS tape, see pic below)
but maybe on DVD in countries like Spain and France. When re-writing this text in english it's 2020 february, finally, this classic has been released on
Blu-ray discs on both sides of the Atlantic, and i just have to get a copy of this for my collection. UK Arrow Academy blu-ray released in 2019.
It's a mystery why it took so long as it's one of the most archetypal of Film Noir movies and also based on the writing of one of the most iconic crime
writers, Cornell Woolrich, my favourite writer. Woolrich, director Robert Siodmak, Ella Raines and Elisha Cook, Jr. All of them - legends.

But, when i originally wrote this in 2013 i found a copy to watch, not on a DVD or a blu-ray, but on Youtube. Then something had happened and
suddenly a copious amount of old movies could be seen on Youtube in often fine quality (and today in 2020 even more so). So, i watched this old
Noir on a Youtube stream.
Maybe all these oldies on Youtube can be seen because of the ending of rights and that they now are in the Public Domain? If so, it's a goldmine
for an old film nerd like me with all these films impossible perhaps to find on a DVD or BR made available on streams on sites like Youtube.
The streaming of films on sites like Netflix and others has almost made the DVD and the Blu-ray as obsolete and antiquated as an old 78 rpm shellac

My old US VHS edition (probably bought in the early 1990's)

Phantom Lady

Is one of my absolute favourites within the film Noir genre, and also so within the Pulp Fiction genre - Read More about the novel on my Film Noir
and Pulp Fiction page, just below this film. Directed by the visually visionary director Robert "The Spiral Staircase" Siodmak and based on the
great novel by Cornell Woolrich. As so often in a Woolrich/Irish story the plot involves a man in a death row cell awaiting his execution for a
crime he hasn't committed, the strangling of his wife, and with a feverish battle against the clock to get him acquitted.
But, his probably very short future doesn't look that bright as his only defence, his alibi for the time of the murder, is that he during the whole
evening had a woman he met in a bar as company, and the problem is that he can't remember her name or what she looked like. Even worse,
nor does the bartender or anyone else. A plot slightly reminiscent of the one in Woolrich's "The Black Angel"

The only one believing in his innocence is his secretary, Carol "Kansas" Richman, played by the lovely Film Noir icon Ella Raines and she's very,
very good in the role. She so alive and natural in the role as a country girl just-arrived-to-the-big city and in love with her boss, that even an old
cynic as me is hoping for an old time Hollywood Happy End where she gets her man, damned, she's worth it for all her troubles.

Ella Raines, one of the truly iconic Film Noir goddesses, appeared in only a handful of films and then disappeared

She's a Hep Kitten - The Jam Session Scene

Light and shadows, Phantom Lady had som masterful photography by Robert Siodmak and cinematographer Elwood Bredell, and Siodmak who
also showcased his visual fireworks in an almost Dario Argento-esque way in his 1946 gothic horror pre-gialli masterpiece The Spiral Staircase
brings this film to it's climax with the frenzied jazz jam session scene. A rightfully famous scene with it's raw sexual tension.

"I'm a Hep Kitten" - "Gee, You Sure Know How to Beat it Out"

So, Carol the devoted secretary has to start sleuthing on her own to free her beloved boss, Scott Henderson (Alan Curtis), to find witnesses that
do confirm his alibi story. Strangely enough no-one remembers him, almost as someone has swept the tracks. A friend of her boss (Franchot
Tone) and the crime cop Burgess (Thomas Gomez) are helping her in her endeavour.
The two scenes that one notices are 1. The subway stalking scene and 2. The drumming scene, and in the latter Carol has turned her into a
Creature of the Night, a seductive Hep Kitten to lure the lying drummer Cliff, played by the great Elisha Cook Jr., to tell the truth by promising him
a FU - K. He's going out of his mind when he gives an orgiastic and ultra-great drum solo. A scene sparkling of electricity and according to IMDB
it was Dave Coleman that did the uncredited solo but some claims it was Buddy Rich.
Elisha Cook, Jr. always steal any small role he was given, and Ella Raines has gained iconi genre status just due to this and some other role she had

Aurora Miranda 1915-2005

"Chick - ee - chick - ee - chick - ee -chick - ee -chick - ee -cha"

Who is she, does the name ring a bell? In the film Cliff hits his drums at a music cabaret, the place the murder suspect went to with The Phantom Lady,
and the artist who performs a dance number, hot-tempered samba dancer Estella Monteiro, with a clue to how to solve the case, is/was Aurora.
I jumped a bit when i saw her, as i'm a big fan of the Samba goddess, The Brazilian Bombshell Carmen Miranda, but it wasn't her it was her sister Aurora
To be honest, i had never heard about her before, but just another cultfilm reason to see this delightful B Noir

The Blu-ray from Arrow presents the film in original ratio 1.37:1 fullscreen, black & white, with english audio LPCM mono and extra english subtitles.
Extras: Dark and Deadly: 50 Years of Film Noir (52 minutes documentary), Phantom Lady by Lux Radio Theatre 1 hour Radio Drama with Alan Curtis and
Ella Raines, Image Gallery, a Booklet and with a reversible sleeve


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