A few words about…™ Phantom Lady – in Blu-ray

Worth an examination. 4 Stars

I’m presuming that some may not be aware of the history behind Arrow’s new Blu-ray release of Phantom Lady, courtesy of Universal.

For those who will be picking up a copy, many will take note of certain characteristics in story, cutting, etc., which happen to take on a quite Hitchcockian aura.

This is hot merely by happenstance.

Joan Harrison is a name you’ll find on the Hitchcock TV series. But she started as AH’s secretary in 1933, working her way up to a reader, and working with screenplays.

This information is off the too of my head, and I’ve not rechecked it, but I recall that Phantom Lady was a project that came out of Hitchcock’s Universal work in the mid-1940s. For whatever reason, it did not end up being a Hitchcock project. But apparently Harrison was involved early on in such a way, that when she was given her producer stripes at Universal, she was able to take Phantom Lady with her, and became its associate producer.

The project was eventually made under the hand of Robert Siodmak, (The Spiral Staircase, Criss Cross, The Strange Affair of Uncle Harry – also a Harrison project.)

Phantom Lady is a film that is much more than the sum of its parts.

The scan is from a lovely film element, presumably a fine grain, with a bit of wear, a sequence with some built-in light scratches, but never anything untoward.

I’ve always considered it a dangling participle to the Hitchcock catalog. In a way a Hitchcock film, that wasn’t.

And again, I’m relating this information not as facts, but from my memory.

Worth an examination.

Highly Recommended

Image – 4

Audio – 5

Pass / Fail – Pass

Upgrade from DVD – yes

RAH

Published by

Robert Harris

editor,member

23 Comments

  1. Yeah, Joan Harrison was never given the proper credit. Without a doubt, she should have been given more film projects. As to "Phantom Lady", I consider it one of the finest film noirs in history. The lovely Ella Raines was great in this film and she is another one that should have had a greater career. One of my favorite all-time actresses. I fell in love with her when I first saw her in "Tall in the Saddle" with the Duke when I was about 10 years old. I can't wait to finally see a good to excellent video presentations of this fine movie.

  2. Robert Crawford

    Yeah, Joan Harrison was never given the proper credit. Without a doubt, she should have been given more film projects. As to "Phantom Lady", I consider it one of the finest film noirs in history. The lovely Ella Raines was great in this film and she is another one that should have had a greater career. One of my favorite all-time actresses. I fell in love with her when I first saw her in "Tall in the Saddle" with the Duke when I was about 10 years old. I can't wait to finally see a good to excellent video presentations of this fine movie.

    Ditto on Ella Raines. A good actress and she had some the most beautiful eyes ever in the movies.
    [​IMG]

  3. I'm very pleased that the presentation is so good as I intended to buy this disc as soon as I first noticed it on Amazon UK.

    I don't like the film as much as some people do because it seems to me to be a strange hybrid, two separate films stuck together. The first half is classical dark drama with an innocent man accused of a crime, unable to provide an alibi and his girl friend taking huge personal risks to search out that alibi. The second half switches mood violently to be a psychological melodrama, not unlike The Spiral Staircase, also directed by Robert Siodmak.

    This fascinating film is notable for another reason: Elisha Cook Jnr, not his usual born loser, playing a randy musician on the make for Ella Raines.

  4. Robin9

    I'm very pleased that the presentation is so good as I intended to buy this disc as soon as I first noticed it on Amazon UK.

    I don't like the film as much as some people do because it seems to me to be a strange hybrid, two separate films stuck together. The first half is classical dark drama with an innocent man accused of a crime, unable to provide an alibi and his girl friend taking huge personal risks to search out that alibi. The second half switches mood violently to be a psychological melodrama, not unlike The Spiral Staircase, also directed by Robert Siodmak.

    This fascinating film is notable for another reason: Elisha Cook Jnr, not his usual born loser, playing a randy musician on the make for Ella Rains.

    Had an interesting evening having drinks with Mr. Cook.

  5. Robin9

    I'm very pleased that the presentation is so good as I intended to buy this disc as soon as I first noticed it on Amazon UK.

    This fascinating film is notable for another reason: Elisha Cook Jnr, not his usual born loser, playing a randy musician on the make for Ella Rains.

    The jam session scene in PHANTOM LADY is a high point for Chiaroscuro in Hollywood films. Caravaggio's shade must have been pea-green with envy.

  6. david hare

    I hope you had enough to steady your nerves! And he didn't starte to play the drums!!

    Or to share an elevator with Mr. Cook, for that matter. That scene in the beginning of ROSEMARY'S BABY always creeps me out!

  7. lark144

    Or to share an elevator with Mr. Cook, for that matter. That scene in the beginning of ROSEMARY'S BABY always creeps me out!

    Nice conversation for the first hour or so, after which I sadly, excused myself. Extraordinary character actor, who felt he should have been a star.

  8. Robert Harris

    Nice conversation for the first hour or so, after which I sadly, excused myself. Extraordinary character actor, who felt he should have been a star.

    Well, I think Mr. Cook is a star, of the highest magnitude.

    Not that he shouldn't have been a lead actor. It's too bad that he wasn't, for his performances have a grace that transcends physical boundaries. He must have been an extraordinary and exacting artist for those fleeting figures he played to loom so largely in the mind. As the years go by, what one remembers most of all is Mr. Cook's visage, in all of its variegated glory, and the characters he played, that are so much bigger than life, that in the memory of at least this viewer, they seem to have taken over the films he was in.

  9. lark144

    Well, I think Mr. Cook is a star, of the highest magnitude.

    Not that he shouldn't have been a lead actor. It's too bad that he wasn't, for his performances have a grace that transcends physical boundaries. He must have been an extraordinary and exacting artist for those fleeting figures he played to loom so largely in the mind. As the years go by, what one remembers most of all is Mr. Cook's visage, in all of its variegated glory, and the characters he played, that are so much bigger than life, that in the memory of at least this viewer, they seem to have taken over the films he was in.

    I believe he would have been a far happier soul, had he seen it that way.

  10. Harrison isn't the only Hitchcock connection – Phantom Lady, the novel, was written by William Irish aka Cornell Woolrich – Rear Window is based on his story as are several great Alfred Hitchcock Presents shows, both in half-hour and hour-long iterations. While not nearly as good as the novel, I've always had a soft spot for the film of Phantom Lady as I'm a big fan of Mr. Siodmak.

  11. haineshisway

    Harrison isn't the only Hitchcock connection – Phantom Lady, the novel, was written by William Irish aka Cornell Woolrich – Rear Window is based on his story as are several great Alfred Hitchcock Presents shows, both in half-hour and hour-long iterations. While not nearly as good as the novel, I've always had a soft spot for the film of Phantom Lady as I'm a big fan of Mr. Siodmak.

  12. haineshisway

    Harrison isn't the only Hitchcock connection – Phantom Lady, the novel, was written by William Irish aka Cornell Woolrich – Rear Window is based on his story as are several great Alfred Hitchcock Presents shows, both in half-hour and hour-long iterations. While not nearly as good as the novel, I've always had a soft spot for the film of Phantom Lady as I'm a big fan of Mr. Siodmak.

    Woolrich was a great influence on film noir. Eddie Muller talks about him quite often on TCM's "Noir Alley".

  13. I enjoyed Phantom Lady this afternoon. Love this kind of movie where an unjustly accused man must somehow beat the odds to save himself (or in this case, the girl who loves him throws caution to the wind for the man she loves). I thought Franchot Tone overdid the madness just a bit near the end (which no one else around him seems to take notice of), but otherwise the performances are very engaging especially Ella and Alan Curtis.

  14. Matt Hough

    I enjoyed Phantom Lady this afternoon. Love this kind of movie where an unjustly accused man must somehow beat the odds to save himself (or in this case, the girl who loves him throws caution to the wind for the man she loves). I thought Franchot Tone overdid the madness just a bit near the end (which no one else around him seems to take notice of), but otherwise the performances are very engaging especially Ella and Alan Curtis.

    Speaking of Ella Raines, I'm going to watch another of her films "Impact" (1949) with Brian Donlevy. This is on the TCM app and another opportunity to watch this fine film noir type movie again. I hope it's a better presentation than my 2000 Image DVD. Another case of a good movie from a small company without a major studio behind it today. As Eddie Muller has stated more than a few times, the number of such films is huge and unfortunate at the same time.

  15. I enjoyed the Blu-ray. I love Ella Raines and Elisha Cook, Jr. and I love the whole feel of the film and Siodmak's direction. But while I have great fondness for it, the book is so much better in the way it handles the villain – in the film they may as well flashed a neon sign on the screen – "VILLAIN." It's a real problem and the book is much, much better and more surprising. I'll never understand why screenwriters think they're better at structure and characters than the author who wrote the book and did it perfectly.

  16. I kind of like the dreamlike way the villain is more or less announced to us earlier in the movie than he is to the heroine. SIodmak is interested not only in the madman aspect of Tone's character (He is but one of a whole back cast of crazy and corrupt people including some of the cops) And also the completely blinded dedication of Ella to the pursuit for a man who seems realtively unworthy. It's the greatest "girl in peril" Noir to me. In many ways it's also like the oneiric Dark Passage about which I am nuts.They're both off kilter, and not really realistic at all.

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