Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Overlooked Movies -- Phantom Lady

I believe this movie is considered a classic, so it's not really overlooked by anyone other than me.  I'd never seen it before, but when it turned up on TCM, complete with an introductory discussion hosted by Eddie Muller and featuring Vince and Rosemarie Keenan, I couldn't resist.

Let me say right up front that I wasn't all that taken with the movie.  It's wonderful too look at, with great B&W photography, but the plot is all too simple, unlike the book it's based on.  Ella Raines is great as the loyal secretary trying to free the boss she secretly loves from prison as she searches for the "phantom lady" of the title, but Alan Curtis as the boss made me wonder why she'd bother.  And Franchot Tone just didn't work for me at all.  Thomas Gomez as the police inspector is very good, but the real star of the show is Elisha Cook, Jr., who was cruelly ignored by the Academy when it came time to nominate for the Oscars.  His drumming scene is the most amazing thing in the movie (and Raines contributes, too).  Don't ask me how they got away with it.  As Vince Kennan said, there's no subtext in this scene. It's all text.  In case you've never seen it, here's a link

A lot of people like this movie more than I do, so give it a try if you've never seen it.  Or let me know why I should have liked it better.

7 comments:

August West said...

I think the movie is great. But I'm a little bias, I've been in love with Ella Raines since I was a kid.

Deb said...

Wow! That's the sexiest I've ever seen Elisha Cook. Of course, that isn't saying much. He usually played whiny toadies getting punched in the face (whether deservedly or not).

Bill Crider said...

Deb, that's what he plays in the rest of the movie, but that scene gives him a few minutes to shine.

Todd Mason said...

He does settle into a rather pleasing rhythm, clearly, one gathers...

Jeffrey Meyerson said...

NTTAWWT, of course.

I've never really cared for Franchot Tone, but otherwise, it has its moments.

Thomas Miller said...

I think I like the movie, but I probably just like Ella Raines (and that frenetic drum scene!).

Don Coffin said...

I may have missed something, but the soundtrack and Cook's "drumming" were (it seems to me) completely different. I'll agree that it was a completely different role from what Gook usually got stuck with.