The Phantom Light (1935)

Article 4128 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 1-10-2013
Directed by Michael Powell
Featuring Binnie Hale, Gordon Harker, Donald Calthrop
Country: UK
What it is: Mystery thriller

A lighthouse keeper comes to Wales to take over the management of a lighthouse that is supposedly haunted; its last two keepers have vanished mysteriously, and one of the men in the lighthouse has gone mad. Is the lighthouse really haunted, or is there another explanation…?

Even great directors sometimes have to serve apprenticeships, and Michael Powell (who directed such movies as THE RED SHOES, STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN and TALES OF HOFFMANN) spent most of the thirties serving one. This movie is largely a variation of THE GHOST TRAIN, and I’m quite surprised that so many genre guides reject this one; even though the threat turns out to not be supernatural at all, I’ve covered plenty of movies listed in those other guides which have even less fantastic content than this one. At the very least, there’s a lot of talk about the lighthouse being haunted. It’s pretty standard fare, but there’s some nice visual moments here and there, and the editing during some of the climactic scenes is sharply done. The Welsh setting also adds a little color to the proceedings. This one is pretty minor, but not bad.


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