I seem to start most of these posts off with 'well, it's been a long time since I've done one of these...' but, of course, it's always true. The main reason that I don't do them very often anymore is because they are so time consuming but I shan't dwell on that - instead, on to the film! Phantom Lady is a 1944 film noir directed by Robert Siodmak, which stars Franchot Tone, Ella Raines and Alan Curtis and was based on a Cornell Woolrich novel.
The basic premise of the film is that an engineer, Scott Henderson, played by Alan Curtis, is accused of murdering his wife despite having what he thought would be a solid alibi. Unfortunately, everyone who saw him on his night out whilst his wife was being killed has conveniently forgot him; the only witness they can't track down is a mystery woman with a distinctive hat whom Scott asked to the theatre with him on a whim (he was stood up by his wife, for good reason obviously - she was dead!) He's found guilty for her murder so his assistant, Carol "Kansas" Richman, played by Ella Raines begins her own investigation to clear Scott's name, not least because she's been in love with him for a long time. Her investigation leads her from one person to another, often with fatal results for the witnesses she's tracking down - but I won't say anymore than that! It's one of the 'wrongly accused' plots that I love so much and I like these films even better when a woman takes on the role of the detective and will stop at nothing to get to the truth.
(Click through on any of the photos to see bigger versions at Flickr.)
The only thing Scott can remember about the woman who could clear his name is the fabulously outlandish hat that she wore.
Carol's secretary has a seriously cute outfit - I love how the straps of the suspender skirt narrow as they get to the waistband.
Aurora Miranda plays a singer - Scott and the mystery woman had seen her show on the night of his wife's murder - who is questioned as she had been wearing the same hat as the 'phantom lady'. However, she won't admit that this happened because she insists all of her hats are unique. Just like this one! Isn't it amazing? I love the glittery dots on her top, as well.
But it is Carol (or, as Scott has nicknamed her, Kansas) whose wardrobe most impressed me. Starting with this ensemble - I can't tell if it's a skirt and blouse or a dress but I'm in love with the stripes and the silhouette of the outfit.
I love her clear raincoat - it's one of the nicest plastic raincoats I've seen.
A simple, yet beautiful gown, with a lovely appliquéd design.
Look at the details on this gorgeous suit - the contrast stitching! And you can just see how the waistband comes to a point in the middle. I love the cropped jacket, too.
I think this was my favourite outfit, though. I believe she's meant to look slightly on the 'cheap' side (hence the costume jewellery, darker stockings, etc.) and I think the relative tackiness (compared to the sleekness of her other outfits) is what attracted me to it.
I'm fairly certain the thing that sparked my interest in seeing this was a .gif that I saw on Tumblr of the shoes on the left. I'm completely in love with them. I also love her patent purse with the initial on it - I've been thinking of getting a similar purse and doing something like this for myself.
In any other film, this hat would probably be the standout but there are a multitude of over-the-top (in the best way) hats in this one. I do love the giant floppy flower, though.
One of my favourite things about this film was all of the close-ups allowing us to see details of costumes we don't normally see - like these mesh nylon stockings!
And check out the cameo ring!
It was very difficult choosing which screencaps to post here but there are about 40 or so more over at flickr in this set. I didn't want to go overboard in the post so hopefully I haven't! When I was doing the screencaps, though I was trying to get good shots of the outfits, I was also distracted by the gorgeous composition and camera angles in this film. It's a perfect example of the visual style that is most associated with film noir but I'm sure I could write an entire post on that.
So, has anyone else seen this film? If so, what did you think of it? Did you love it as much as I did?
Andi B. Goode