The Phantom Baron | Chicago Reader

The Phantom Baron

Jean Cocteau supplied the dialogue for this elegant gothic romance (1943, 99 min.) and makes his screen acting debut as the title character, a self-described “royalist and misanthrope” whose mysterious disappearance leaves his estate up for grabs. Years later his decrepit castle becomes the setting for a love triangle involving a countess's spirited daughter (Odette Joyeux), the simple woodsman whose love she spurns (Alain Cuny), and her silently suffering nurse (Jany Holt), who can't afford to be quite so choosy. Serge de Poligny directed, though Cocteau's fanciful visual sense is evident throughout; especially haunting is a nocturnal sequence in which the sleepwalking woodsman gathers the nurse from her bed and carries her, billowing nightgown and all, to the top of the castle. In French with subtitles.

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