Thursday, 2 September 2010

Ella Raines Phantom Lady

Ella Raines was signed for films by Charles Boyer and Howard Hawks who had set up a production company. Raines then went to Universal Studios in 1943, where she appeared in the film noir Phantom Lady, directed by Noir expert Robert Siodmak, as faithful secretary, "Kansas," who is the heroine going the extra yard to save her boss who is accused of murdering his wife.
His innocence rests on his alibi of a mystery woman with whom he spent time at the time of the murder.This become Kansas’ mission; to find the Phantom Lady.

In the course of her investigations she strings along Jazz Drummer Elisha Cook to gain information, intoxicating him with her adopted persona as "a real hep kitten." Kansas is a great character and unusually for a Noir is very much the one digging under the dirt of the naked city. The ending is reminiscent of Brighton Rock as Kansas listens to a message from her boss, but this time it’s genuine in it’s intent. Boss saved romance on its way. This is an early offering from Siodmak who would go on to direct key movies in the Noir Genre and Raines is the female central figure; unusually in Film Noir.
“An abstractly atmospheric evocation of New York after dark...
a template for studio-made hardcore noir.”
– J. Hoberman, Village Voice
Despite the upbeat ending Phantom Lady, while not a perfect Noir, has some great moments of desolation, dark backstreets and flawed individuals. Kansas enters this world willingly and changes herself in order to solve the mystery.
At Paramount Preston Sturges borrowed Raines to co-star with Eddie Bracken in Hail the Conquering Hero (1944). Her screen career stalled so she retired to England in the late '40s, and married a military officer. However she was drawn back to the screen.

In the early '50s, she starred in the TV series Janet Dean, Registered Nurse, where she paid the lead character as a problem solving ex army nurse her final film appearance was in the 1956 British movie Man in the Road. Raines has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for her contribution to motion pictures and for television. Ella was a beautiful actress who never reached the heights of her contemporaries but she shone brightly in Phantom Lady.



Ella Raines August 6, 1920 – May 30, 1988

1 comment:

  1. Why why why oh why oh why is this movie not available on dvd?!?!?!

    ReplyDelete

having said that;

WELLISAIDTHAT