The Phantom Light
The film begins on a railway track, a small train is moving through hills and valleys in a very rural location (click here to visit the Festiniog Railway Heritage Group for more information). A man (Sam Higgins) is sitting in a carriage smoking a pipe and reading his newspaper. Eventually the train pulls into a sort of railway station. There is no platform and Sam jumps down off the train. The station has a Welsh name - Tan y Bwlch - not sure it if a real place though as I could not find it on any maps. An old Welsh woman, the station mistress, stops him to get his ticket or something (not really sure what she requires). He asks her about where to go next but she replies in Welsh and Sam does not understand a word of it. The location though is Wales, of that there is no doubt. Sam goes off looking for someone who speak English. He soon runs into Alice. What she is doing in the station or what she has to do with any of the goings on in the film, I have no idea. She is lay back sunbathing waiting for a taxi or car to drive her to the village. Eventually Sam talks to a railway worker in order to get a ride to the local village. The railway worker seems surprised when Sam tells them he is the new chief lighthouse keeper and Alice is very interested to hear this information. Eventually the railway worker finds them a car to drive to village in. Sam is to report to the harbour master as he is the new head light keeper for the North Stack lighthouse. Alice is still very intrigued and is very keen to get access to the lighthouse. She tries to butter Sam up by making complimentary comments about his face being handsome. Sam is having none of it and actually gets the wrong idea about Alice's intentions. Why she wants onto the rock is anyone's guess. Alice tells him that she runs a psychic society and she wants to investigate the haunting of the lighthouse - "Mr Higgins, I'm going to tell you the truth" she tells him.
"So Long cock, see you at the funeral" says the railway worker, "So long misery, I'll be in the front carriage" replies Sam.
Alice feeling a little miserable goes to the "Bottle and Jug" Inn and seeks a bed for the night. Here we meet the Inn owner who spends most of her time talking to and pouring pints for the village policeman.
Sam has to walk the rest of the way but eventually arrives at the harbour master's office and interrupts a heated discussion between the harbour master and an unknown man (we later discover he is Jim Pearce) who is desperately trying to get access to the North Stack lighthouse. The man leaves but waits outside to overhear the conversation with Sam Higgins. Sam is informed of the recent events and of the man trying to get access to the lighthouse. The harbour master also informs Sam of whom will be going to the lighthouse including the police. They are to investigate the death of Jack Davies, the last light keeper. He just disappeared states Dave Owen as did the light keeper before him. Sam is also told of the madness of Tom who is still left on the lighthouse. Whilst the men are chatting, Sam is reminded of the wrecking of a ship belonging to the Fern family. Dave and Griffith Owen blame it on the North Stack and the Phantom Light. Sam states that this will not happen while he is in charge as he has been in the service for twenty five years. Sam is also introduced to a number of men all of whom are called Owen (second name).
One of the many classic lines in this film is uttered via Sam "Owen, Owen is anybody payin'" The Welsh men do not see the funny side and things move on as if he had not spoken a word. Eventually Dr. Carey arrives to escort Sam to the lighthouse. Before they can leave though they have to find the policeman who is busy at the public bar.
The Doctor and Sam head back to the Inn and have a ration or two of the local. The man outside the harbour master's office then tries to ply Sam with a drink or two or three in order to get access. Sam is not daft, he happily accepts the drink and still refuses access to the rock. Sam and the harbour master and his men head for the North Stack in a small boat. Back at the inn Alice tries to persuade Jim to get her onto the North Stack. Alice knows he wants to go to the lighthouse and she also knows that he has hired a motorboat.
"Jim," She says, "I'm going to tell you the truth.", "Oh no you're not" he replies and walks out of the inn.
The sea is rough and a winch has to be used to transfer Sam and his kit to the rock.
There he meets Claff Owen of whom Sam remarks "Cor blimey - King Kong."
Sam and the others arrive in the lighthouse and we learn that the two previous men who worked the light had met very different fates. One had completely vanished and the other had gone mad. The mad one is the son of Claff Owen's sister and attacks the Doctor. They are able to overpower him and he eventually rests. The Doctor and the village policeman judge the sea to dangerous to move him and so he has to remain on the lighthouse until morning. Sam is not very happy about sharing the light with a lunatic and suggests that when they come to fetch the patient the next morning they may well find they have another one to deal with. Tom we are told is the son of Claff's sister and a good lad when he is normal.
Sam replies, "But he ain't normal, he has these come and go fits, when he comes somebody goes." The Doctor gives Sam some sedatives to use on Tom if he has any more outbursts.
When everyone has gone, Sam goes to look at Tom who gives him a fright. Sam tells Tom "I've got two things to send you to bye-byes and one of them is this" pointing to the sedatives, the other being a large baseball bat.
Sam and Claff then go and have spot of supper. Sam tells Claff about Jim wanting to get access to the lighthouse. While they are eating both Claff and Sam think they hear soft footsteps and become a little worried. Claff starts talking about the previous night during which Tom went mad. As both he and Sam are getting more and more nervous, the door bursts open and in staggers Tom totally off his head. Claff picks him up and carries him back to his bunk. Sam insists that Tom be tied up or at least give him some pills. They then hear a call from Bob who is up on watch. He has spotted a small power boat in trouble. The boat is manned by the man whom we later learn is called Jim Pearce. Jim has run out of fuel and wants to get access to the North Stack and so requests help. Sam, Claff and Bob help and bring him onto the rock and all four are surprised by the entry of Alice who had been hiding in the boat. Claff is not very happy about civilians being on board the rock and keeps talking about the regulations.
Eventually everyone gets inside and Alice has to borrow some clothes from Sam as she is soaking wet. Sam gives her his Sunday best trousers to wear and after she complains that they are too long, he tells her to do with them what she wants. He later regrets this when she uses scissors to cut them into a pair of shorts. Sam is in total shock. Sam then sets about interrogating Jim to see why he so desperately wanted to get onto the lighthouse. He also asks about Alice's involvement to which Jim has no idea.
"Mr Higgins, I'm going to tell you the truth." At which point Jim gets up and walks away. "I'm an actress hiding from the police" states Alice. "What you act as bad as all that" replies Sam which draws a smile from Jim.
We then see shadows on the stairs, someone or something is inside the lighthouse unbeknown to the crew. Claff tells Alice and Jim about the phantom light. Alice asks about ghosts just as we hear a lamp smash on the floor upstairs. The lamp instantly ignites the oil and it starts burning in Tom's room. When Tom lets out a scream, Claff , Sam and Jim go off to help. They quickly put out the fire, but Claff hears the sound of the sea downstairs and goes off to investigate alone. Someone has entered the lighthouse and left the doors wide open. Sam shines his lamp outside but sees nothing. While Claff and Sam are searching the lighthouse, Jim asks Alice to help him get his equipment sorted as he needs help with the aerial. Sam overhears this and thinks they are communists. Jim tells Alice to distract Sam and Claff by asking to see the light at the top. She goes to find Sam but Sam has already overheard all this and persuades her to go with Claff. Sam pretends to turn in but Jim suspects he is not really asleep.
Claff tells Bob that the fog is getting very thick outside and that he must start the signals going. A large explosion is heard above the lighthouse signalling to ships the danger of fog.