Monday, October 19, 2015

The Phantom of the Opera (1925)

The career of young Opera singer Christine Daae is given a boost by a mysterious man known by the performers as The Phantom.

When The Phantom of the Opera was released, the source novel was only about fifteen years old, and this was already the second film adaptation. The first, a German film, is lost. Who knows how many more came afterwards.

This, like many Lon Chaney films, is about obsession. Young Christine is obsessed with stardom, for which she is willing to give up her true love. The Phantom is, of course, obsessed with Christine. She cannot love him because of his horrible disfigurement, if not for his age and creepy subterranean ways. It is a tragic story and the monster is the most tragic.

Here, Chaney sports his most famous and most effective make up. Not just his hideously scared face and mask but also his Red Death costume, resplendent in early colorization. Given time to assemble the pieces, this should be my Halloween costume.

There is room to pick nits with The Phantom of the Opera, but most of them surround title card editing. Despite that and serious on set problems, The Phantom cashed in at the box office. It was a sensation and was re-edited several times. This is Chaney's most famous role and arguably the best version ever filmed. AMRU 4.
"Beneath your dancing feet are the tombs of tortured men! Thus does The Red Death rebuke your merriment!"

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