The Phantom Wagon (1939)

  |  Drama, Fantasy


The Phantom Wagon (1939) Poster

A nun suffering from TB is desperately trying to save an alcoholic tramp and to bring him back to his wife and kids.He has a friend who died last year and became the coachman of the "Ghost Wagon" .


7/10
195

Photos


See all photos

Get More From IMDb

For an enhanced browsing experience, get the IMDb app on your smartphone or tablet.

Get the IMDb app

Reviews & Commentary

Add a Review


User Reviews


28 October 2005 | dbdumonteil
8
| Swing low,sweet chariot.
That was Duvivier's last work before WW2 ,and a remake of Victor Sjostrom's eponymous movie,adapted from Selma Lagerlof.I've not seen the silent movie so I will avoid any comparison..

Duvivier's precedent movie " la Fin du Jour" still compares favorably to "Sunset Blvd" when it comes to depicting the aging thespians's tragedy.Duvivier is the French prince of the film noir,but I guess he could not provide the terrified 1939 audience with another of his despairing movies.

"La charrette fantôme" is looked upon as a failure by most of the French critics as the follow-up ("Untel Père et Fils") is but it should not be dismissed so quickly.Its conclusion might seem ponderous ,full of finer feelings ,a bit Capraesque.But the overall atmosphere is black:"it's not the infected beds they should burn,it's the whole humanity!" a character says in the house for homeless the Salvation Army has built.Pure Duvivier line.Most of the movie takes place in the dregs of society where a sister (Micheline Francey) suffering from TB is desperately trying to save an alcoholic tramp (Pierre Fresnay) and to bring him back to his wife and kids.He had a friend ,one of the last lonely and wretched like him ,(Louis Jouvet)who died the last day of the precedent year and became the coachmann of the "Ghost Wagon" (hence the title).And the sister fears he might be the next coachman as he might die at the end of this year.

The realistic story and the supernatural one do not hang well,and the line ("get out of your prison") the coachman repeats to the dead is a bit ludicrous (but we have seen worse by today's standards).The special effects are not that much bad for 1939 and were probably inspired by previous experiments by Abel Gance ("J'accuse" ).

Despite these reservations,Duvivier's directing remains impressive.There are great scenes in this uneven effort: a burning with fever Jouvet crawling on the snow-covered roof of the hospital;the old lady too tired to carry on her earthly ride;the luminous beaming face of Micheline Francey Duvivier lovingly filmed;Fresnay in a bout of delirium tremens trying to force his way in his house ;his wife thinking of poisoning her children before herself.

Duvivier was probably a believer:after all,he directed a life of Saint Therese de Lisieux well before Alain Cavalier,and even though most of his brilliant filmography depicts a terrifying humanity when he reportedly lost his faith,he probably never lost his faith in a superior strength.And on account of the impending mortal storm (to quote Frank Borzage) that was to fall on the human race at the time,who could blame him?

Critic Reviews


More Like This

Phantom Carriage

Phantom Carriage

Christine

Christine

Marie-Octobre

Marie-Octobre

La fin du jour

La fin du jour

The Phantom Carriage

The Phantom Carriage

La bandera

La bandera

Monsieur Gangster

Monsieur Gangster

Manon

Manon

The Female

The Female

They Were Five

They Were Five

So Long, Stooge

So Long, Stooge

French Cancan

French Cancan

Storyline

Plot Summary


Genres

Drama | Fantasy

Editors' Picks: What to Watch on Disney Plus

Check out our editors' picks for movies and TV series to watch on Disney+ now, including "The Mandalorian," "Gravity Falls," and Free Solo.

See our picks

Around The Web

 | 

Powered by ZergNet

More To Explore

Search on Amazon.com