Arrow Video, with domestic sales and distribution expertise provided by MVD Entertainment Group, goes to the vaults on Mar. 12 for the Blu-ray release of director Robert Siodmak’s 1944 film noir mystery, Phantom Lady.
A new transfer from the original film elements of this Joan Harrison film production is what Arrow Video has planned. Of note, she was twice nominated for Oscars for her screenplays, Rebecca and Foreign Correspondent (both directed by Alfred Hitchcock … she also provided scripts for Hitchcock’s Jamaica Inn, Suspicion and Saboteur).
Harrison would go on to produce director Robert Montgomery’s film noir gem, Ride the Pick Horse, filmmaker Edwin L. Marin’s film noir murder mystery, Nocturne (teaming George Raft with Lynn Bari) and director Irving Pichel’s 1947 film noir entry, They Won’t Believe Me (starring Robert Young, Susan Hayward and Jane Greer). She produced a few more films in the late ‘40s and very early ‘50s before abandoning theatrical productions and turning her attentions to the new medium of television.
From 1955 through 1962 she re-teamed with her mentor Alfred Hitchcock and produced his anthology series, Alfred Hitchcock Presents (14 Emmy nominations in various categories, with wins Best Editing in 1956, Best Writing in 1957 (James P. Cavanagh) and Best Direction in 1958 (Robert Stevens).
As for Phantom Lady, this was the first film that Harrison produced (only three women in 1944 were film producers) and it was director Robert Siodmak’s first dip into the film noir(ish) pool … he would go on to do The Killers (1946, Best Director nominee), The Dark Mirror (also 1946), Cry of the City (1948), Criss Cross (1949) and The File on Thelma Jordon (1950).
Scott Henderson (Alan Curtis — The Invisible Man's Revenge, High Sierra), a New York City denizen has a blow-up with his wife over her not wanting to attend a stage show and heads to the local watering hole to drown his sorrows. There too is a mysterious woman (played by Fay Helm) who is as gloomy as he is and they end up using the tickets. An odd event occurs during the production involving the lead (Aurora Miranda) and then Scott and the mysterious woman go their separate ways.
A strange evening takes a turn into darkness when Scott returns home to find the place crawling with police and his wife murdered. In charge is Inspector Burgess (Thomas Gomez), who listens to Scott’s events of the evening and figures he has an ironclad alibi. But, upon checking with the bartender (Andrew Tombes), a taxi driver and the star of the show, his alibi falls apart as none of them recall Scott or a mysterious lady.
He is charged with murder, convicted and sentenced to death. End of story? This is where the film takes another turn. Scott’s secretary, Carol (Ella Raines — Brute Force, Impact), is secretly in love with him and decides to become an amateur sleuth, which turns out to be a very dangerous undertaking as her life is constantly in peril. She will cross paths with the likes of Scott’s best buddy, Jack Morrow (Franchot Tone), Cliff, a drummer at the show (Elisha Cook Jr.), a doctor named Chase (Virginia Brissac) and a milliner by the Kettisha (Doris Lloyd).
Can she solve the mystery of the “phantom lady” and discover the real killer before she too falls victim … or the clock for Scott ticks down to zero and he is executed!!!
Bonus features include director Paul Joyce’s feature-length documentary, Dark and Deadly: 50 Years of Film Noir and the Lux Radio Theatre production of Phantom Lady with Ella Raines reprises her role as Carol.