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
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
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
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
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
old US VHS edition (probably bought in the early 1990's)
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Ella Raines, Image Gallery, a Booklet and with a reversible sleeve