Synopsis by Hal Erickson
Claude Autant-Lara's literally haunting romantic tale Sylvia and the Phantom stars Odette Joyeaux as Sylvia, an imaginative young girl who lives in an old French castle. Fascinated by a portrait of the lover of her deceased grandmother, Sylvia fantasizes about having a romance with the lover's ghost. On Sylvia's 16th birthday, her father decides to amuse the girl by having the "ghost" make an appearance, and to that end engages the services of three men--a valet, a ham actor and a burglar--to impersonate the wraith. Though confused by the fact that the ghost seemingly has three distinct personalities, Sylvia nonetheless falls in love with the burglar, the most handsome of the trio. Disillusioned upon learning of her father's subterfuge, Sylvia is unfortunately unresponsive when the real ghost (poignantly enacted by comedian Jacques Tati) makes a surprise appearance. Unfairly lambasted by American critics as "worthless," Sylvia and the Phantom has since taken its place in cinema history as one of Claude Autant-Lara's most beguiling works. The film was adapted from a play by Alfred Adam.
ghost, impersonation, girl, portrait, afterlife, birthday, castle, friendship, actor, thief, valet [servant]