The Phantom Lady


Richard Brody provides an excellent introduction to Robert Siodmak’s Phantom Lady, a 1944 film noir. The film is urban expressionism, complete with a sweaty Lacanian plot of a missing point de capiton or quilting point. The wife of a man wrongly accused of murder seeks witnesses who can clear his name. The action takes place in a hot, dark New York in which everyone is struggling for survival–really, Berlin after World War I. (Siodmak was German.) The film's tension peaks in the "rape by jazz" scene, which Brody briefly analyzes.

Phantom Lady plays tonight at the Film Forum in New York. If you can't make it, the film isn't easy to find, but worth seeking out. Other Siodmak films to see are The Suspect (1944) and The Spiral Staircase (1945). 

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