Pit violinist Claudin hopelessly loves rising operatic soprano Christine Dubois (as do baritone Anatole and police inspector Raoul) and secretly aids her career. But Claudin loses both his touch and his job, murders a rascally music publisher in a fit of madness, and has his face etched with acid. Soon, mysterious crimes plague the Paris Opera House, blamed on a legendary "phantom" whom none can find in the mazes and catacombs. But both of Christine's lovers have plans to ferret him out. Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
Universal Studios' Stage 28, originally built for the 1925 feature B&W film "Phantom of the Opera," was used, again, for the 1943 Universal Studios feature Technicolor film "Phantom of the Opera" starring Nelson Eddy, Susanna Foster and Claude Rains. The interior Paris Opera theatre has been used for the 1966 Alfred Hitchcock feature "Torn Curtain," the Ross Hunter 1967 feature film musical "Thoroughly Modern Millie," and the Universal CBS TV series "Murder, She Wrote. See more »
When Christine takes the mask off from Phantom's face, we see that his scar reaches the low area of his right cheek, even the right eyelid is slightly fallen. But before that during the entire film, we never see a single mark of the scar on the uncovered area of the Phantom's face, not even the fallen eyelid through the mask. See more »
[Upon hearing about a thief in the opera house]
Call the police at once! This must be stopped!
Monsieur, I'm afraid the police can't stop that. It's he.
[VEREHERES begins to make gestures at his nose and chin]
Oh, please. Don't start that nonsense again, Vercheres. At your age, you ought to know that there aren't any ghosts.
Monsieur, you are skeptical, but I don't like ghosts. I'm a busy man.
Oh, our brilliant stage manager insists there's a malicious ghost prowling about the ...
[...] See more »
Gaston Leroux's penny-dreadful novel was hardly the stuff of great
literature, but it did manage to tap into the public consciousness with
its gas-light-Gothic tale of a beautiful singer menaced by a horrific
yet seductive serial killer lurking in the forgotten basement
labyrinths of the Paris Opera. Lon Chaney's silent classic kept the
basic elements of the novel intact--and proved one of the great box
office hits of its day, a fact that prompted Universal Studios to
contemplate a remake throughout most of the 1930s.
Although several proposals were considered (including one intended to
feature Deanna Durbin, who despised the idea and derailed the project
with a flat refusal), it wasn't until 1943 that a remake reached the
screen. And when it did, it was an eye-popping Technicolor
extravaganza, all talking, all singing, and dancing. The Phantom had
In many respects this version of PHANTOM anticipates the popular Andrew
Lloyd Webber stage musical, for whereas the Chaney version presented
the Phantom as a truly sinister entity, this adaptation presents the
character as one more sinned against than sinning--an idea that would
color almost every later adaptation, and Webber's most particularly so.
But it also shifts the focus of the story away from the title
character, who is here really more of a supporting character than
anything else. The focus is on Paris Opera star Christine Dae, played
by Susanna Foster. In this version Christine is not only adored by the
Phantom; she is also romantically pursued by two suitors who put aside
their differences to protect her.
Directed by Universal workhorse Arthur Lubin, this version is truly
eye-popping as only a 1940s Technicolor spectacular could be: the color
is intensely brilliant, and Lubin makes the most of it by focusing most
of his camera-time on the stage of the Paris Opera itself and splashing
one operatic performance after another throughout the film. But in
terms of actual story interest, the film is only so-so. Susanna Foster
had a great singing voice, but she did not have a memorable screen
presence, and while the supporting cast (which includes Nelson Eddy,
Edgar Barrier, Leo Carrillo, and Jane Farrar) is solid enough they lack
excitement. And the pace of the film often seems a bit slow, sometimes
to the point of clunkiness.
The saving grace of the film--in addition to the aforementioned
photography, which won an Oscar--is Claude Rains. A great artist, Rains
did not make the mistake of copying Chaney, and although the script
robs the Phantom of his most fearsome aspects, Rains fills the role
with subtle menace that is wonderful to behold, completely transcending
the film's slow pace, the lackluster script, and "sanitized for your
protection" tone so typical of Universal Studios in the 1940s. Unless
you're a die-hard Phantom fan you're likely to be unimpressed.
Gary F. Taylor, aka GFT, Amazon Reviewer
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