“Phantom Lady is Siodmak's masterpiece. The style of the film could best be compared to a sustained and very loud drum solo. The story concerns a man who finds himself framed for a grisly murder, and his only alibi, a mysterious lady in a black hat, seems to have disappeared off the face of the earth. The trail leads to a dead end when the alleged phantom lady is found insane in a chilling white room, but then a new avenue opens up leading to the real killer and a subtler, more dangerous form of insanity. The film is less a whodunit than a collection of brilliant scenes, each and every one of them built on an arresting stylistic device: a trial in which we see only the face of the accused; a scene at a musical revue that gradually focuses on a single hat; a drum solo by Elisha Cook Jr. where Siodmak pounds out angles like hotcakes; a squeal of brakes, an uneasy pause, then a hat lands with a sickening plop at a girl's feet.
“Phantom Lady created a powerful mise-en-scene of squalor and violence. The story becomes an excuse for the exploration of the underworld, for a series of descending spirals into hell.”