Phantom Lady (1944)

PhantomladyThe film uses the motif of a mysterious lady who cannot be found as the jumping off point for this Film-Noir. It is this so called phantom lady who Scott Henderson (Alan Curtis) meets at a bar after having a spat with his wife. They lift each others spirits and part ways. Returning home, he is met by the police inspector (Thomas Gomez), who found that Henderson’s wife was strangled to death. Scott is the prime suspect and now he needs his alibi which seemed so airtight before.

She truly has vanished and no one remembers her so Henderson is on the verge of the death penalty. It is his smitten secretary Carol (Ella Raines) who takes up his cause. She retraces his steps interrogating a bartender and wheedling information out of a puny drummer (Elisha Cook Jr.). Soon an old friend (Franchot Tone) of Scott’s returns from South America and everything gets a little more interesting.

Phantom Lady stars a cast of only a couple recognizable names, however Robert Siodmak does a decent job at making this noir interesting and it is certainly worth a watch.

3.5/5 Stars

Criss Cross (1949) – Film-Noir

c8a9b-crisscrossStarring Burt Lancaster and Yvonne DeCarlo, this Robert Siodmak-directed film-noir revolves around a heist and a love triangle gone bad.

The film opens with Lancaster secretly meeting with his lover with plants to eventually run away together. Then he enters the bar and fights with his love’s gangster husband. However, when a policeman friend comes in, Lancaster will not press charges and non one talks. Little does the policeman know what is really going on. The next day Steve drives an armored car full of money to its destination. As he nervously drives, in a flashback he recalls how it all began.

He had finally returned home after a long absence. His main reason was to see his former wife and yet although they still had feelings for each other, she had remarried a gangster named Slim. Despite the circumstances  both lovers began meeting more often. In order to save himself and Anna, he suggested a robbery of the armored car with Slim.

Then, back in the present the wheels begin to turn and the armored car is ambushed. However, Slim does not stick to his word and there is a firefight. Steve is called a hero but he is left helpless in the hospital. After bribing the man who was to betray him, Steve rendezvous with Anna. However, all is not well and she is ready to leave him behind since Slim is obviously on his way. But she is not quick enough. This film reveals the nature of two double crosses which ends in a deadly criss cross.

4/5 Stars

The Killers (1946) – Film-Noir

Starring Burt Lancaster in his debut as well as Ava Garner, the film begins with two gunmen killing “The Swede” (Lancaster) in a small town. Interested in the mystery, an insurance investigator named Reardon (Edmund O’Brien) tries to piece together the past of the dead man. He works to gather more information and talks to “The Swede’s” former friend as well as a hotel worker, and a past cell mate. Through a series of flashbacks Reardon slowly strings together the past including “The Swede’s” boxing career, his time in prison, and especially an alluring woman, Kitty Collins (Gardner).In the climatic scene Reardon finally meets the beautiful Kitty. Only after a series of events and her quick getaway does he grasp the whole truth. Kitty was a deadly double crosser. However, in a cruel twist her partner in crime is killed and her fate is sealed. This is an exciting film noir with solid acting and a great style of storytelling. This was my first experience with director Robert Siomak, and I must say I was quite impressed.

4.5/5 Stars