“Don’t you realize this can result in an awful long rest cure for you?”
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
… Siodmak keeps us guessing about who each of the primary characters are, what role they may eventually play in the mystery (or not), and who’s ultimately behind the murder of a character only seen post-mortem in a glamorous portrait a la Laura (1944) (released later that same year).
We are eventually let down by the unsubtle inclusion of a character whose deluded state of mind is far too transparent, and whose performance edges into campy territory. However, expressionistic cinematography and memorable sets make the film a consistent visual treat, and the central mystery — who IS that phantom lady, and why was she so determined to keep her identity a secret? — builds to a nice reveal. Watch for a truly deranged Elisha Cook, Jr. playing a cartoonishly lustful drummer:
… and Carmen Miranda’s sister Aurora as a performer literally seething at the idea of another woman wearing one of her designer hats.
Note: Leading man Alan Curtis plays a radically different — and much more sympathetic — character here than in High Sierra (1941), where he was cast as Lupino’s abusive boyfriend ‘Babe’; he’s also known for his leading role as a paratrooper in Douglas Sirk’s Hitler’s Madman (1943).
Redeeming Qualities and Moments: