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A mystery woman is a murder suspect's only alibi for the night of his wife's death.
At Anselmo's bar in New York, Scott Henderson sits dejectedly next to an equally despondent woman wearing a distinctive hat. Scott offers the woman tickets to a musical show that he cannot use, but she is not interested until Scott asks if she would like to accompany him to the show. Impulsively she agrees, on the condition that they do not exchange any personal information and just enjoy the evening together. At the show, Scott and the woman sit near the front, where the woman attracts the eye of the orchestra drummer and singer Estela Monteiro, who is furious that the woman's hat matches her own. After the show, Scott escorts the woman back to the bar and they part amicably. Upon returning to his apartment, Scott is greeted by by police Inspector Burgess, who informs him that Scott's wife Marcela has been strangled to death with one of Scott's ties. Shocked, Scott describes the evening, which began when Scott quarreled with his wife because she refused to go out with him to celebrate their anniversary. When he mentions the woman with the unique hat, the police grow skeptical, and Scott is taken to headquarters for further questioning. The next day at Scott's office, his secretary, Carol Richman, reads about Marcela's murder in the newspaper and struggles to get through the regular business of the day. Meanwhile, Scott retraces his actions of the night before with Burgess, going to Anselmo's, where the bartender vaguely recognizes Scott, but cannot recall the woman in the hat. Scott and Burgess also question the cab driver who drove them to the show, the orchestra drummer and the singer, Estela, but no one claims to remember the woman. Scott is arrested and during his trial his repeated assertions about the mysterious woman are not believed and he is found guilty of murdering Marcela. Stunned, Carol visits Scott in jail and the two speculate about why the publicity of the trial did not bring the mystery woman forth. Confident Scott has told the truth, Carol goes to Anselmo's bar, hoping to provoke the bartender into changing his testimony. After three evenings at the bar, Carol follows the bartender and confronts him outside a subway station. Under pressure, he admits he received money not to talk, but before he can be more specific, he panics and darts away, only to be hit by a car and seriously injured. Feeling guilty and distraught, Carol returns to her apartment and finds Burgess, who tells her that he believes Scott is innocent and wants to unofficially help her locate the phantom woman. The next night Carol attends the music hall show, dressed in gaudy and suggestive attire, which attracts the attention of the orchestra drummer, Cliff. After the show Carol, calling herself Jeannie, meets Cliff backstage and goes with him to a small club, where he briefly sits in on a jazz jam session before taking her to his apartment. Carol steers the conversation around to money, and Cliff boasts that he recently received five hundred dollars from a man for not identifying a particular "dame." When Carol, struggling against Cliff's amorous advances, tries to get more information, her purse is knocked over and police papers on the drummer which Burgess had provided her spill out. Alarmed, Cliff scuffles with Carol, who breaks away and runs down to the street, where she telephones Burgess from a nearby shop. Unknown to Carol, a man has gone into Cliff's apartment and after threatening him, strangles him. Later, when Burgess arrives with a warrant, he and Carol find Cliff dead. Shortly afterward, Carol visits Scott in jail again and discovers his appeal has been denied. As they sit considering their options, Cliff's killer, Jack Marlow, who is Scott's best friend, arrives. Claiming to have come back from South America when he heard about Scott's misfortune, Jack offers to help and Scott and Carol gratefully accept. Jack accompanies Carol and Burgess to see Estela and, unknown to them, arranges to have the singer leave town the next day. Burgess later tells Jack he believes the killer is paranoid and insane, which irritates Jack, then brings on a dizzy spell and collapse. While Burgess is called out of town working another case, Carol tries in vain to see Estela, but instead discovers the singer's luggage being removed from her hotel. Carol notices a hat box and, taking down the milliner's address, goes to the hat shop, where an assistant designer confesses to copying Estela's hat for a wealthy Long Island client, Ann Terry. Carol enthusiastically tells Jack about Ann, and he drives her out to Long Island. There Carol discovers that Ann suffered a nervous breakdown after her fiancé's accidental death. Carol falters when she realizes Ann is too emotionally fragile to question, and leaves without asking about her evening with Scott. On the drive back, Carol asks to phone Burgess and Jack pretends to make an arrangement for them all to meet later at his apartment. At Jack's place, Carol frets about her inability to help Scott and is bitter about the murderer. Jack develops a headache and lies down while Carol goes to freshen up. In Jack's bedroom, she discovers the handbag she left behind at Cliff's and realizes with horror that Jack is the murderer. She tries phoning Burgess, but is interrupted by Jack. In the living room Jack reveals that he and Marcela had been involved and she had callously refused to run away with him, forcing him to kill her and frame Scott. Jack is about to attack Carol, when the doorbell rings, and she screams for help. Burgess breaks the door in and Carol runs to him, while Jack throws himself out the window to his death. After Scott is released from jail, he and Carol plan their future together.
Cast & Crew
|MPAA Ratings:||Premiere Info:||not available|
|Release Date:||1944||Production Date:||
|Color/B&W:||Black and White||Distributions Co:||Universal Pictures Company, Inc.|
|Sound:||Mono (Western Electric Recording)||Production Co:||Universal Pictures Company, Inc.|
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Phantom Lady is Mesmerizing
Noir Guy 2016-12-03
Thank God for insomnia or else I wouldn't have been up to see this GREAT film since it came on at 430 AM PST. I have never heard of it and I am very...
kevin sellers 2016-02-02
As noted by previous reviewers the star of this noir is director Robert Siodmak, one of the finest of the "creepy, menacing," black and white...
Classic film noir
Esar Shvartz 2014-06-15
A magnificent stylish noir directed by Robert Siodmak played to the hilt by Ella Rains. The photography and moody atmosphere are a delight for any noir...