The Masters  
The Powell & Pressburger Pages

Dedicated to the work of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger and all the other people, both actors and technicians who helped them make those wonderful films.

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Submitted by Mark Fuller

The Phantom Light
Monthly Film Bulletin: July 1935

     A melodramatic thriller with plenty of fun in it. A lighthouse off the coast of Wales has been the scene of strange events and disappearances while a phantom light appears on the rocky coast. Gordon Harker as Sam Higgins, the new cockney Chief lighthouse-keeper is excellently cast. His matter-of-fact tone when confronted by the local tales of the haunted lighthouse told in sing-song, Welsh-accented English is finely done, as also his amazement when he finds that half the village are related Owens. Helped by a Naval Lieutenant and a lady detective, he deals with a fake lunatic and solves the mystery. It turns out to be the work of wreckers.

     The atmosphere is well built up and sustained, and the tension is balanced by the comic relief. The photography is very good, giving some fine views of Welsh landscape and of the village where the drama takes place. The shots of the ship 'Mary Fern' in the fog are well done and add their full quota to creating tense expectation. The sound effects are enhanced by the booming of the sea and the screaming of the seagulls which are used to add to the eeriness of the scene. Binnie Hale as the Lady Detective acts well, especially in her fight with the wreckers at the top of the lighthouse - she makes it real. Her efforts to be taken to the lighthouse, involving overtures first to Sam Higgins and then to the Naval Lieutenant, are amusing, and her success at last is welcome. Gordon Harker and Binnie Hale are well supported by the rest of the cast, especially by Herbert Lomas as the melancholy welsh assistant keeper.

     Suitability A (Adults). There are a number of violent scenes which make the film unsuitable for young people or impressionable adolescents.

80 mins


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