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6 Degrees Entertainment

'Phantom Lady: Special Edition'
(Franchot Tone, Ella Raines, Alan Curtis, et al / Blu-ray / NR / (1944) 2019 / Arrow Films UK)

Overview: After a fight with his wife, Scott Henderson (Alan Curtis, High Sierra) heads to a bar to drown his sorrows. There he strikes up a conversation with a mysterious, despondent lady who agrees to accompany him to a show uptown but withholds her name. Arriving home, Scott is met by grimly countenanced cops - his wife has been strangled with one of his neckties and he is the prime suspect. He has a solid alibi but his theatre companion is nowhere to be found and no one remembers seeing them together.

When Scott is charged with murdering his wife, it falls to his devoted secretary Kansas (Ella Raines, Brute Force) to find the phantom lady and save Scott from the electric chair.)

Blu-ray Verdict: Seldom have my expectations been as often derailed as in 'Phantom Lady'. The plot - while a bit farfetched - is never boring or predictable. Although it's a smaller film than say, The Maltese Falcon or The Big Sleep, it is immensely satisfying.

Ella Raines is the real stand-out here. Not only is she great to look at (think half-way between Veronica Lake and Lauren Bacall) she also acts circles around the two leading men.

Luminous, expressive yet subtle, she is perhaps a better actress than those two icons, if slightly less perfect-looking than Lake and a bit less magnetic than Bacall.

Thomas Gomez turns in a surprisingly complex and interesting performance, but don't expect too much from Franchot Tone. Although his acting abilities need no defense, he didn't do much with this role.

Sure, there are plot holes, a couple of contrived turns, and at least two ridiculous performances (Elisha Cook and Aurora Miranda) but all B Noir has its faults, and this one wins by dint of its unpredictability and pacing, and some great cinematography.

In closing, and whilst the cast comprised some of the names familiar to buffs of forties movies - Andrew Tombes, Thomas Gomez, Elisha Cooke, Ella Raines, Alan Curtis and top-billed Franchot Tone - they most all cast against type, in my mind.

Certainly watchable and a reasonable addition to the noir gallery the conclusion is satisfying and everything makes sense (which is amazing considering the unlikely plot line!). This is a Full Screen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation transferred from original film elements
Uncompressed Mono 1.0 PCM audio soundtrack
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
Dark and Deadly: 50 Years of Film Noir, an insightful archival documentary featuring contributions from Robert Wise, Edward Dmytryk, Dennis Hopper and more
Rare, hour-long 1944 radio dramatization of Phantom Lady by the Lux Radio Theatre, starring Alan Curtis and Ella Raines
Gallery of original stills and promotional materials
Reversible sleeve featuring two original artwork options
+ FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector's booklet featuring new writing on the film by author Alan K. Rode

www.ArrowFilms.com





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