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Phantom Lady (1944)

aka Phantom Lady

"IT'S UNIQUE...suspense...mystery...drama!"

Directed By: 
Details: 87 mins · English

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Cast:

Small Jack Marlow
Small Carol 'Kansas' Richman
Small Scott Henderson
Small Estela Monteiro (as Aurora)
Small Inspector Burgess
Small Ann Terry
Small Cliff Milburn
Small Mac - Bartender
Small Detective Chewing Gum
No_movie_poster Detective Tom
No_movie_poster Madame Kettisha
Small Dr. Helen Chase
Small District Attorney (voice)

Crew:

Small Robert Siodmak Director
No_movie_poster Arthur Hilton Editor
No_movie_poster Cornell Woolrich Novel
No_movie_poster Joan Harrison Producer
No_movie_poster Bernard C. Schoenfeld Screenplay
No_movie_poster Elwood Bredell Director of Photography
No_movie_poster Cornell Woolrich Story Contributor

Taglines:

"IT'S UNIQUE...suspense...mystery...drama!"

Plot:

After a fight with his wife on their anniversary, Scott Henderson (Alan Curtis), a 32-year-old engineer, picks up an equally unhappy woman in a bar and they take a taxi to see a show. The woman refuses to tell him anything about herself. The star of the show, Estela Monteiro (Aurora Miranda), becomes furious when she notices that both she and the mystery woman are wearing the same unusual hat. When Henderson returns home, he finds Police Inspector Burgess (Thomas Gomez) and two of his men waiting to question him; his wife has been strangled with one of his neckties. Henderson has a solid alibi, but the bartender, taxi driver and Monteiro deny seeing the phantom lady. Henderson cannot even clearly describe the woman. He is tried and sentenced to death.

Carol Richman (Ella Raines), a loyal secretary secretly in love with her boss, sets out to exonerate him. She starts with the bartender. She sits in the bar night after night, staring at and unnerving him. Finally, she follows him home one night. When he confronts her on the street, some bystanders step in to restrain him. He breaks free, runs into the street and is run over. Later, Burgess offers to help (unofficially); he has become convinced that only a fool or an innocent man would have stuck to such a weak alibi. Burgess provides her with information about the drummer at the show, Cliff (Elisha Cook, Jr.), who had tried to make eye contact with the mystery lady. Richman dresses gaudily and goes to the show. Rhythmic inter-cutting between Cliff's frantic drumming (dubbed by Gene Krupa) and the leering responses of Richman leads to them going back to his apartment. Somewhat drunk, he brags that he was paid $500 for his false testimony. However, he becomes suspicious and finds a piece of paper with details about him. Richman manages to escape, leaving her purse behind. After she has gone, the real murderer, Henderson's best friend Jack Marlow (Franchot Tone), shows up at the apartment and strangles Cliff.

Marlow, supposedly away on a job in South America, pretends to return to help Richman. She tracks down Monteiro's hatmaker, Kettisha (Doris Lloyd). One of her employees admits to copying the hat for a regular customer and provides her name and address. With Burgess away on another case, Richman and Marlow go to see Ann Terry (Fay Helm). They discover her under the care of Dr. Chase (Virginia Brissac); the man she was to marry had died suddenly, leaving her emotionally devastated. Richman is unable to get any information from her, but does find the hat. Marlow suggests they wait for Burgess at his apartment. However, while she is freshening up, Richman finds her purse and the paper with Cliff's particulars in a dresser drawer. Marlow admits he became enraged when Henderson's wife refused to run away with him; she was only toying with him. Fortunately for Richman, Burgess arrives just in time. Marlow throws himself out the window to his death. With Henderson freed, things appear to return to normal. However, Richman is delighted to learn (from a dictaphone message) that her boss returns her love.