Phantom Lady (1944) - Rotten Tomatoes

Phantom Lady1944

Phantom Lady (1944)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Phantom Lady Photos

Movie Info

Engineer Scott Henderson (Alan Curtis) is at a seedy midtown Manhattan bar early one evening, drowning his sorrows over a failed marriage, when he strikes up a conversation with a woman (Fay Helm). She's well dressed, with a very ornate hat topping off her ensemble, and also seems even sadder and more lost than he is. Henderson persuades her to join him in taking advantage of the two theater tickets he has. They attend the show -- a song-and-dance showcase by a Brazilian artist (Aurora) -- and then part company without ever exchanging names. He returns home to find three detectives in his apartment and his wife strangled. Inspector Burgess (Thomas Gomez) questions Henderson and tries to verify his alibi, but no one -- not the bartender, the cabbie who hauled them to the theater, or the drummer in the band who was watching her -- admits to remembering the woman. Henderson can't prove that he was elsewhere when his wife was strangled and is convicted of murder and sentenced to death. His assistant, Carol Richman (Ella Raines), who has watched all of this happen, can't sit by while Scott is destroyed, and decides to get at the truth, joined by Inspector Burgess, who now believes Henderson to be innocent. Carol hounds the bartender (Andrew Tombes) until he seems ready to crack, but before he talks, he tries to get away from her and dies in an accident. The drummer, Cliff Milburn (Elisha Cook Jr.), proves more talkative and reveals that someone paid him 500 dollars to forget about the woman, but before Burgess can question him, he's strangled. It seems as though there's no hope left, even with the added help of Jack Marlow (Franchot Tone), Scott's best friend, newly returned from Brazil, when Carol gets a line on the unusual hat the woman was wearing. She traces the hat to its owner in a mansion on Long Island, where she is recovering from a breakdown over the death of her fiancé -- that was her trouble on the night she crossed paths with Scott Henderson. It is only on returning to New York, while awaiting Burgess' arrival, that she realizes that Jack Marlow is the murderer -- that he returned after having dinner with them, following their fight, and strangled Henderson's wife; paid off the bartender, the cab driver, and Cliff Milburn to keep them from revealing the existence of the woman that Scott was with; and killed Milburn to prevent him from talking; and he plans to kill Carol before she can talk to Burgess. ~ Bruce Eder, Rovi

Watch it now


Ella Raines
as Carol Richman
Alan Curtis
as Scott Henderson
Franchot Tone
as Jack Marlow
Aurora Miranda
as Estela Monteiro
Thomas Gomez
as Insp. Burgess
Fay Helm
as Ann Terry
Joe Kirk
as Stage Manager
Elisha Cook Jr.
as Cliff March
Andrew Tombes
as Bartender
Regis Toomey
as Detective
Joseph Crehan
as Detective
Doris Lloyd
as Kettisha
Milburn Stone
as District Attorney
Jay Novello
as Anselmo
Harry Cording
as Courtroom Spectator
Samuel S. Hinds
as Judge (offscreen)
View All

Critic Reviews for Phantom Lady

All Critics (9) | Top Critics (1)

Channeling the spirit of the Russians (Eisenstein, Dovshenko, Vertov), the director uses grotesque angles, close-ups, and rhythms to suggest a powerful sense of seduction and torture.

May 1, 2006

...compelling subject matter that's employed to somewhat erratic yet mostly rewarding effect...

October 31, 2020 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

In the end, an unobservant, unfocused antagonist arranges clunky closing shots that feel rushed, unpolished, and ineffective.

August 14, 2020 | Rating: 4/10 | Full Review…

The first half is phenomenal. But it's not too difficult to figure out the killer even before he's revealed at the film's halfway point, and his prominence during the second half undermines the intrigue.

March 20, 2019 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

A compelling crime drama and intense thriller.

March 1, 2019 | Full Review…

Brilliantly stylized crime thriller.

August 9, 2007 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Phantom Lady


Ella Raines' performance and Elwood Bredell's cinematography are two reasons this is a must-see for noir fans. Raines doesn't play the femme fatale instead she's a citizen investigator trying to hunt down a murderer and thus free her boss whom was wrongly convicted of the crime. Bredell's lighting of Raines and his work throughout the picture is superb There's a jazz scene in the movie intended to symbolize seduction that should not be missed. Unfortunately, director Robert Siodmak doesn't deliver tension in the film's final act which would have made this a true classic..

Aldo Gandia
Aldo Gandia

Super Reviewer

OK pre-noir B-movie with striking Ella Raines determined to save her boss from death row by finding his only alibi to his wife's murder, a woman in a peculiar hat who nobody seems to remember. Boosted by some nifty lighting and frame composition, but a contrived plot applies a Medieval knowledge of mental illness as the psychological slant and the crafty Raines does some unbelievably stupid things just to create tension at the end. Ultimately it's nothing you haven't seen before, except perhaps the crazed drum solo at the tiny jazz club no larger than my closet which seems to take its cues from Reefer Madness!

Doctor Strangeblog
Doctor Strangeblog

Super Reviewer

Brilliant atmosphere trumps crappy acting and story.

Bob Stinson
Bob Stinson

Super Reviewer

Phantom Lady Quotes

There are no approved quotes yet for this movie.

News & Features