Newest Reviews
Death at Broadcasting House
Ghost Strata
Call to Spy, A
Other Lamb, The
Every Time I Die
Lynn + Lucy
Honest Thief
Blood and Money
Rose: A Love Story
Antrum: The Deadliest Film Ever Made
Om Dar-B-Dar
Silencing, The
J.R. 'Bob' Dobbs and the Church of SubGenius
Dick Johnson is Dead
Legacy of Lies
I Am Woman
Alien Addiction
Dare, The
South Terminal
Little Monsters
Yield to the Night
My Zoe
Young Playthings
End of Summer
Times of Harvey Milk, The
Perfectly Normal Family, A
Honeymoon Phase, The
One Summer
Bird Island
Devil to Pay, The
Newest Articles
Down to the Welles: Orson Welles Great Mysteries Volume 2 on DVD
Herding Cats: Sleepwalkers on Blu-ray
Confessions of a Porn Star: Adult Material on DVD
They're Still Not Sure It is a Baby: Eraserhead on Blu-ray
Werewolves are Real: Dog Soldiers on Digital
Rose: A Love Story - Producers April Kelley and Sara Huxley Interview
Phone Phreak: 976-EVIL on Blu-ray
Living the Nightmare: Dementia on Blu-ray
Becky and The Devil to Pay: Ruckus and Lane Skye Interview
Big Top Bloodbath: Circus of Horrors on Blu-ray
A Knock on the Door at 4 O'clock in the Morning: The Strangers on Blu-ray
Wives of the Skies: Honey Lauren Interview
To Catch a Thief: After the Fox on Blu-ray
Tackling the Football Film: The Arsenal Stadium Mystery on Blu-ray
Film Noir's Golden Couple: This Gun for Hire on Blu-ray
The Doctor Who Connection: Invasion on Blu-ray
Hill's Angles: Benny Hill and Who Done It? on Blu-ray
Big Willie Style: Keep It Up Downstairs on Blu-ray
Walt's Vault: 5 Cult Movies on Disney+
Paradise Lost: Walkabout on Blu-ray
Buster Makes Us Feel Good: Buster Keaton - 3 Films (Volume 3) on Blu-ray
Network On Air: Nights In with ABC 3 - Don't Go Away - I Could Do with a Bit of Cheer Now!
What Use is Grief to a Horse? Equus on Blu-ray
For God's Sake Strap Yourselves Down: Flash Gordon on 4K UHD Collector's Edition
Party Hard: Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure on Blu-ray
  Phantom Light, The Tower Of Terror
Year: 1935
Director: Michael Powell
Stars: Binnie Hale, Gordon Harker, Donald Calthrop, Milton Rosmer, Ian Hunter, Herbert Lomas, Reginald Tate, Barry O'Neill, Mickey Brantford, Alice O'Day, Fewlass Llewellyn, Edgar K. Bruce, Louie Emery
Genre: Comedy, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Sam Higgins (Gordon Harker) is travelling to the West Coast of Wales by train, where he will be accepting a post as a lighthouse keeper, but on arrival he finds the little village close by is not exactly accommodating. The only person to meet him is the station mistress, who speaks no English, a problem when Higgins wants a car to take him to his destination, but as he looks about for more help he notices a woman calling herself Alice Bright (Binnie Hale) who tells him somewhat excitedly that she has been waiting for transport for hours. On asking her what she’s here for, she spins a yarn about wishing to investigate the ghosts at the lighthouse, but Higgins informs her she’ll be lucky for there are no visitors allowed there, just staff – yet what of the tale of mystery surrounding the other light seen at the rocks by the shore?

The Phantom Light was a short film known as a quota quickie, that was a British effort produced cheaply merely to make up the required quota of local pictures in the nation’s cinemas by law, ostensibly to ensure the screens were not filled up with foreign (i.e. Hollywood) product and give the Brits a chance. The effect of that was a whole load of cheap and not so cheerful movies made with the barest minimum of care and attention, crafted as quickly as possible and forgotten about as soon as their run was over, more often than not. But this was slightly different, it was indeed made under the usual quota conditions, yet it made a favourable impression on audiences of the day, and was one of the projects that marked its director Michael Powell out as a rising talent to watch; it would take until the following decade and his partnership with Emeric Pressburger to truly see that blossom.

All very well, but was it right enough that there was some worth in what in its era was purely regarded as ephemera? Certainly Powell had fond memories of it and claimed to have thoroughly enjoyed the experience of directing it, and it’s accurate to say that sense of playfulness he could often bring, dare we say that sense of fun, was very apparent as the pretty basic plot unfolded over the course of an hour and a quarter. As one of the select few entertainments set in a lighthouse, it could hold its head high with eccentricities like America’s Sh! The Octopus, Michael Redgrave and the ghosts of Thunder Rock or the Doctor Who story The Horror of Fang Rock as taking advantage of a potentially cramped and claustrophobic setting, as once the characters gather at the building they made great play of running up and down the stairs, and at times also scaling the outside of it into the bargain, all to give the impression that there was something important happening.

You would observe the cast were plainly having fun, with Hale in particular a real puzzle, who keeps giving alternative explanations for what she’s actually doing in the lighthouse in the first place, to the extent that even her final one that should really have wrapped things up leaves you none the wiser, or unconvinced at any rate, she was who she said. This was a rare cinematic outing for singer and stage star Hale, best known for her signature tune Spread a Little Happiness, which is a pity as she came across as game for many of the things the script threw at her, whether it be lashed with wind and rain or spend half the film dressed in home-made shorts for no very good reason other than to show off her legs. Harker had by then established himself as a character actor and celebrity, his lugubrious delivery a neat contrast to Hale’s twittering, and we can share his bafflement at the plot he has become embroiled with. All in all, not anything terribly original even at the time, but it breezed along with makeshift flair.

[Network's DVD in The British Film collection has a nice, restored print better than the public domain one, and a gallery as an extra.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


This review has been viewed 1424 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

Review Comments (0)

Untitled 1

Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.

Latest Poll
Which star is the best at shouting?
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Brian Blessed
Tiffany Haddish
Steve Carell
Olivia Colman
Captain Caveman
Sylvester Stallone
Gerard Butler
Samuel L. Jackson
Bipasha Basu

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Paul Smith
Darren Jones
Andrew Pragasam
  Lee Fiveash
  Mick Stewart
Enoch Sneed
  Dsfgsdfg Dsgdsgsdg


Last Updated: