10 May 2004 | Bucs1960
Quirky "B" Film
This is a strange little movie.......a film noir with some good performances and some not so good. You often see this film on lists of noir classics but it raises the inevitable question....is it a classic or does it have just too many faults to raise it to the level of winners like "DOA", "The Big Sleep" or "Night and the City".
The premise is fairly good. A man can't prove his whereabouts when his wife is murdered and can only describe his alibi as an unknown woman wearing a rather distinctive hat The story follows the hero's secretary and a sympathetic policeman as they try to prove his innocence. Alan Curtis is a disaster as a gloomy, rather unlikeable man who pretty much gives up trying to find the real killer and becomes resigned to his fate. He doesn't put up much of a fight and his attitude doesn't help much. The lovely Ella Raines portrays the secretary who gets herself into some uncomfortable situations, especially with Elisha Cooke Jr as the drummer man with the plan. Plenty has been said about the drumming scene which somehow sneaked by the censors. It has to be seen to be believed.......whew!!
Franchot Tone plays the hero's best friend and I am still trying to figure out if his playing of that part was really good or really bad. The answer is probably "really bad". The role is against type for him and he overdoes it. He does have a great apartment though!
Fay Helm, playing the woman with the hat, is strangely attractive and is just right for the "phantom lady". Thomas Gomez, as the friendly cop, does his usual good job. So is this film worth watching?......yes. It has some plot holes but overall it is enjoyable. Give it a try.