Alfred Abel, Lil Dagover, Lya de Putti, Olga Engl,
Through a variety of montage and trick effects, F. W. Murnau and designer Hermann Warm created a nightmare world for the troubled hero of Phantom, a young clerk and aspiring poet (Alfred Abel) who becomes obsessed with the image of a woman he has met only briefly. In despair, he indulges himself with a prostitute who resembles his “phantom” and then allows a friend to draw him into a petty burglary that leads to murder. Lotte H. Eisner wrote, “Murnau . . . attempted to capture what [Bela] Balazs calls ‘the reality submerged by the dream’ in his film Phantom.” Elsewhere she noted, “All the sorrowful weight and tension of the Kammerspiel-film is here; we feel the vibrations between the characters. Under Murnau's direction Alfred Abel manages to convey the somnambulistic vagueness of someone who has lost himself and becomes a mere puppet in the hands of a crook.” Made in 1922, after Nosferatu and before The Last Laugh, Phantom existed only as a lost legend for many years, during which critics regarded it as a key “missing link” in Murnau’s development.