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Classically Speaking:
Promoting Classic Movies in a Jaded World!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


The Phantom of the Opera (1925) - Lon Chaney, Sr.

The Phantom of the Opera was the title character of the novel by French author Gaston Leroux. Most of the films treat the story as a work of horror but it was actually a romantic thriller. The novel has been filmed many times since 1925.

The Phantom of the Opera (1925)Haven't you seen The Phantom of the Opera (1925)? Lon Chaney stars as Erik, the Opera Ghost, who loves young singer Christine Daae and teaches her to sing. Unfortunately, he is quite ugly and also quite mad. Chaney's make-up is based on Leroux's description in the novel and his performance creates both horror and pathos. This is still the best of many versions of the story despite some clumsy editing after the production was finished. Mary Philbin is lovely as Christine and Norman Kerry is far too old as Raoul, her suitor. It was reissued in 1930 with a synchronized score and some dialogue.

See these four other wonderful performances, as well.

The Phantom of the Opera (2004) Andrew Lloyd Weber's 1984 stage extravaganza finally made it to the screen starring Gerard Butler as the unnamed Phantom. This filming is almost as close to the book as the 1925 film. The biggest weakness is the make-up design for the phantom. It is not as "horrible" as the characters seem to think it looks.
The Phantom of the Opera (1943) Directed by Arthur Lubin, this film is more Opera than Phantom with Claude Rains being billed third after Nelson Eddy and Susannah Foster. It features lovely Technicolor photography, an excellent score by Edward Ward, and good performances by all concerned. In this version the Phantom is Erique Claudin, a violinist forced to resign from the Paris Opera due to arthritis. He has secretly been paying for voice lessons for Christine Dubois, a young singer (who is hinted to be his daughter). An accident drives poor Claudin mad and under the Paris Opera House.
The Phantom Of The Opera (1962) In this version, directed by Terence Fisher, the story is given the Hammer treatment, but is not as gory as later filmings. Herbert Lom is sympathetic as the Phantom, a composer whose opera has been stolen by the nefarious Lord D'Arcy (Michael Gough delightfully dispicable). Seeking revenge the Phantom kidnaps singer Christine Charles in order to properly prepare her for the role of Joan of Arc in his opera. It's not bad and Lom and Gough make it worth watching.
The Phantom of the Opera (1983) This television film totally wastes stars Maximilian Schell, Jane Seymour and Michael York. The location filming in Budapeste is good, but the overall result is poor. It is listed here only because it is better than the other filmings not listed here. Which is the worst filming is hard to choose from those made in 1988, 1989, and 1990. Tony Richardson's 1990 television production with Charles Dance and Burt Lancaster is undoubtedly the dullest.

*Contributed by: "Eric Jamborsky" Date: Thurs, Oct 12 2006 / 15:29:29 PST

Movie stills displayed: Lon Chaney, Sr. in The Phantom of the Opera (1925) and Autographed photo of Lon Chaney, Sr. and Mary Philbin in The Phantom of the Opera (1925). Autograph reads: Mary Philbin. Autographed photo provided by: Eric Jamborsky.