Phantom Of The Opera
(Unrated, 1:47:09, Released 1925)
|Genres:||Drama, Horror, Classics|
|Release Date:||Jan 1, 1925|
|DVD Release Date:||Oct 15, 1997|
|Starring:||Lon Chaney, Mary Philbin, Norman Kerry, Arthur Edmund Carewe, Gibson Gowland, John St. Polis, Edward Martindel, Snitz Edwards, Virginia Pearson, Olive Ann Alcorn|
|Directed by:||Rupert Julian|
|Synopsis:||Lon Chaney stars as Erik, the Phantom, in what is probably his most famous and certainly his most horrifying role. Produced by Universal, the film shot in 1923 and shelved for nearly two years, and was subjected to intensive studio tinkering. While many expected a disaster, the film turned out to be a rousing success. It was both the stepping off point for Chaney's run as a superstar at MGM and the prototype for the horror film cycle at Universal in the 1930s. The story concerns Erik, a much-feared fiend who haunts the Paris Opera House. Lurking around the damp, dank passages deep in the cellars of the theater, he secretly coaches understudy Christine Daae (Mary Philbin) to be an opera star. Through a startling sequence of terrors, including sending a giant chandelier crashing down on the opera patrons, the Phantom forces the lead soprano to withdraw from the opera, permitting Christine to step in. Luring Christine into his subterranean lair below the opera house, the Phantom confesses his love. But Christine is in love with Raoul de Chagny (Norman Kerry). The Phantom demands that Christine break off her relationship with Raoul before he'll allow her to return to the opera house stage. She agrees, but immediately upon her release from the Phantom's lair, she runs into the arms of Raoul and they plan to flee to England after her performance that night. The Phantom overhears their conversation and, during her performance, the Phantom kidnaps Christine, taking her to the depths of his dungeon. It is left to Raoul and Simon Buquet (Gibson Gowland), a secret service agent, to track down the Phantom and rescue Christine. ~ Paul Brenner, Rovi|
|Full movie details|
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My Friends' Reviews
Other Top Reviews
May 15, 2012
Lon Chaney is so incredibly expressive that he makes the rest of the film's cast look lifeless in comparison. Along with the incredible make-up job, Chaney brings out the un-predictable behavior and confused nature of the title character. He was truly one of the quintessential silent actors. Not only is Chaney's turn as the Phantom incredibly memorable, the film's sets are also something to behold. The production value shows off the big budget that was spent on this movie, especially with sets like the ballroom, grand opera house, and the Phantom's dark dungeon. During the ballroom sequence the movie mysteriously turns into color for a brief time, which does a great job in highlighting the Phantoms red costume. A huge hit in its initial release, "The Phantom of the Opera" set the standard for other Universal horror flicks to come. The film may not be able to scare as much as it did back in 1925, but it still retains a fun chilling atmosphere throughout. A definitive silent horror classic.
March 1, 2012
Well, at least I can say I have seen the original now.
November 5, 2011
Remember that musical you grew up with that was made into a pretty good movie by a pretty bad director? This is that but without all the good music, pretty girls, or characteristic mask.
I guess the reason this is considered a horror classic is Lon Chaney's ugly face; he's got a big, toothy sneer, and he moves like an animated skeleton. Maybe I've seen too many modern horror films in which the makeup effects are so advanced that they put the older stuff to shame, but no effect registered in me during Chaney's famous reveal scene.
More to the point, the Andrew Lloyd Webber/Tim Rice version turns Christine's ultimate rejection of the Phantom into a question of the seduction of darkness versus the purity of Raoul's romantic affection, evidenced by the first lines of "All I Ask of You": "No more talk of darkness; forget these wide-eyed fears; I'm here." In this version, Raoul struts and prances like he's constantly posing for a bronze to be erected at the entrance of the theater, and his attachment to Christine is more about possession than affection.
And I think we're to understand that The Phantom's ugly exterior is supposed to be evidence for an uglier interior that Christine discovers once she sees his face. Of course, it's true that The Phantom is truly unhinged, dropping chandeliers on people and drowning invaders of his underground hideaway, but Christine's judgment of his seems premature and superficial. Even though it's true that I rarely see hot women with men that ugly, as far as the story is concerned, Christine comes off as unlikable - to the film's detriment.
Overall, this is a case in which the remake is much better than the classic.
November 16, 2010
This is the second Phantom movie I've seen the first was the 40s version, and I liked this movie a lot better. The story is clearer, the phantom is creepier, and it's more exciting. It does get to feel a little long towards the end, because it says it's only 70 some minutes, but the version I saw was over 100 minutes. At least in this one you don't have to listen to the opera singers. Overall, a really good movie, I enjoyed it.
October 25, 2009
My first reaction was 'Wow!' There is so much more to this film than the unmasking at the organ. There are flashes of humor, the Red Death and even some snorkeling. Fantastically iconic, or iconically fantastic - whichever you prefer.
March 14, 2009
The prototype for all horror movies that followed, Phantom of the Opera is an early piece of cinematic achievement. The movie opens with the sale of an opera house and a warning of ghosts to the new owners from the old. Box 5 is occupied by a phantom, they say. The phantom uses intimidation to get his favorite actress, Christine, the leading role, even dropping a chandelier on the audience. Christine finally gets to meet her "master" when her brings her down to her lair beneath the opera house, but he wears a bizarre mask and claims to be in love with her. Despite his warnings, she pulls off his mask exposing his hideous face. His dreams of love are forever vanquished, he swears revenge. If she ever tries to meet with her lover Raoul again, he will kill them both. It is soon discovered that the Phantom is actually an escaped mental patient named Eric. "Born during the Boulevard Massacre, Self-taught musician and master of black art. Exiled to Devil's Island for the criminal insane. Escaped. Now at large." Erik's not such a pitiful case. He's a violent sociopath who's severe disfigurement and subsequent status as a social outcast have led to his mental breakdown. Yeah, it sounds like a Wes Craven movie, doesn't it? There's much to admire in this movie: the sets, costumes and general direction of the movie are all done well, to evoke a freakshow-like fear of the unknown. But it's of course Lon Chaney as the Phantom that makes this movie a classic. He doesn't hold anything back in his portrayal of a scary monster. The Hunchback of Notre Dame might've been sympathetic, but the Phantom doesn't want sympathy, he wants to destroy the world.
September 5, 2008
This is arguably universal pictures' first of their classic, long life horror series. A sumptuous gothic mega production, starred by the beautiful Mary Philbin and Lon Chaney, the man of the thousand faces, in his most famous role. Not only adapts Gaston Leroux immortal tale, but also includes a scene of a ball, very reminiscent of Edgar Allan Poe's The masque of the red death. The only regret is that Carl Laemmle, head of universal studios, changed the original ending of the source material for a more 'spectacular' one. When director Rupert Julian refused to do so, he was fired.
Lon Chaney's makeup is terrific, and the un-masking scene remains as one of the most impressive moments in movie history.
An atmospherical and breathtaking piece of early cinema that stands the test of time like a well-aged wine.
August 13, 2007
I never much cared for the story, but Lon Chaney was probably the most "real" phantom I've ever seen (which really isn't saying anything; the only other version of I've seen of POTO is the Andrew Lloyd Webber one on Broadway). I "appreciated" this film but I'm not crazy about it.
June 14, 2007
loved it! was it just my version or did anyone elses version but when they r in the masarade it turns to COLOR! then after christine and raoul go on the roof it turn black and white for the rest of the movie....humm... owell i thought it was all reallly good except the ending. i cant belive they killed him thats sooo mean!! but maybe hes not dead! ??? lon chaney is so perfect with all of the movments and he really dose look scarry. i remeber seeing a picture of him when i was little and i would get scarred and hide my face.haha,
May 29, 2007
Great film. Every remake has been a waste of time after this. Lon Chaney is amazing as the deformed Eric. The sets are equally awesome. The Opera House is as beautiful as the catacombs are dank. And who can't relate to a story of unrequited love? One of the best of the silent films, and second only to Hunchback of Notre Dame as my fave Lon Chaney, with The Unknown rounding out the trifecta.
January 17, 2013
This is the second silent I've had the opportunity to see with live organ accompaniment. Everyone should try to seek out opportunities to experience good silent movies this way. In my experience digital transfers generally have bad audio tracks slapped on them. Seeing and hearing two pieces of art interacting in this way heightens the whole thing. We begin with a narrator holding a lantern. His jaw flaps for what seems like more than a couple minutes, but then we are given a single paragraph of exposition to read. At times the characters do engage in that old stage and silent film form of acting (especially Mary Philbin as Christine). Their gestures and mannerisms once meant very specific emotions and often that meaning is lost to modern audiences, but I thought that all the performances in this movie still communicate very clearly to viewers of today. I had seen this back in elementary school when somehow our music teacher confused this for the overrated musical that was growing in popularity at the time. Lon Chaney gave me nightmares. His makeup and the reveal of what is under his mask are still shocking. Now I'm able to handle it. The titles are well written and the timing allows you to read them. The sets, use of shadow, and camerawork all provide a great atmosphere. The red tint on the Masked Ball scene is creative. There are touches of humor with the ballerinas, one stagehand and a diva stage mother. There are even some cool special effects to add some thrills.
November 7, 2011
I for one was astonished by this film! It is absolutely brilliant in every regard.
February 23, 2011
The original Lon Chaney version of the classic horror story may not be the best introduction to silent films for anyone unaccustomed to the style and pacing of pre-Vitaphone melodrama. Modern audiences are cautioned to approach it as they would any antique museum piece, forgiving the now faded visual splendor and dated histrionics to better appreciate the age and rarity of the artifact itself.
Set in 1890s Paris, "The Phantom of the Opera" is the story of young soprano Christine Daae (Mary Philbin), who with the help of an unknown tutor, has gone from being part of the chorus to become the understudy of Carlotta (Virginia Pearson), the Prima Donna. On the first night of Opera's new season, Vicomte Raoul De Chagny (Norman Kerry) assists to the show in order to see Christine, whom he loves very much. To Raoul's surprise, Christine tells him that their relationship can't continue as it gets in the way of her career, and that she must follow her tutor's orders in order to become the best singer in Paris. As this happens, strange letters have arrived to the Opera House's new management, demanding that Christine must sing the main role instead of Carlotta. Fear begins to spread among the crew of the Opera House, as it is believed that the Phantom of the Opera is more than just a superstition.
Adapted to the screen by Elliott J. Clawson, Raymond L. Schrock and the usual army of writers that would write and rewrite the many treatments of the script, the 1925 version of "The Phantom of the Opera" is surprisingly one of the most faithful to Leroux's novel. While numerous posterior versions (from Universal's own 1943 remake to the famous musical version) have played mostly on the romance aspect and the tragedy of the title character, the screenplay for this movie remains true to the novel's origins in Gothic literature and keeps the story of the Phantom deeply rooted in the horror and mystery sides of the story. The Phantom is sympathetic, yes, and the love triangle is still present, however, here he is also the complex murderous sociopath who's closer to what Leroux intended him to be. A touch of comedy is added to the script, although never too much to deviate from the atmosphere of the story.
As many have said before, it is ultimately Lon Chaney's performance what makes this version of Leroux's story to be so wonderful and enjoyable. Wonderfully over-the-top, Chaney truly becomes the misunderstood monster he plays with great talent and powerful presence, to the point of overshadowing everyone else in the cast. Still, the beautiful Mary Philbean manages to deliver an effective performance as Christine Daae, portraying the character's naiveté in a very natural and believable way. Sadly, the same can't be said about Norman Kerry, whom as Raoul is definitely the weakest link in the cast. Arthur Edmund Carewe makes a short yet very important appearance as the mysterious Ledoux, and while small, he makes his role a very memorable one. Snitz Edwards is the film's main comic relief, and while annoying at times, he gets the job done. But there's something even more memorable than Chaney's performance and the amazing art design in "The Phantom of the Opera", and that is the incredible make-up that Lon Chaney himself designed for his character which is probably the best one he ever did in his prolific career. Despite being limited by the technology of his time, Chaney designed with great creativity the now iconic "skull face" of the Phantom, just as monstrous and grotesque as Leroux intended it, proving once and for all why he earned the nickname of "The Man with a Thousand faces". Still, not everything is perfect in this movie, as while editor Maurice Pivar certainly did a wonderful job at the titanic labor of putting everything together, at times the fact that it was made by many different directors can still be felt in the pacing of the film, but still, it's unnoticeable for most part of the film.
In the end, this adaptation of "The Phantom of the Opera" is often considered as the best, and while that probably has more to do with the fact that there hasn't been a "definitive version" yet, one can't deny that this classic of the silent era has stood the test of time like few movies in history. This version of Leroux's novel is a must-see for every fan of horror.
***1/2 out of 4 stars
October 23, 2010
The original "Phantom of the Opera" film adaptation reminds me ever-so greatly of what it means to be both dramatic and atmospheric. So many films forget to include the ingredients that the filmmakers put on display here, resulting in (most of the time) a ridiculous mess. This may be the only perfect or perhaps even proper adaptation of the 1910's novel, although I'm open to whatever future adaptations the story can inspire. However, nothing can measure up to what has been done here. This is a shocking, powerful love story in which there is a love triangle, involving two men and a women; one of these men less handsome than the other. The film deals with the horrors of disfigurement as well as the emotional longings of a monster. There have been many imitators, both successful and unsuccessful, of such a story. One of them is the film adaptation of "V for Vendetta", which I now notice has intelligently borrowed themes similar to the ones in "Phantom of the Opera". I specifically note "V for Vendetta" because it is one of the most successful "imitators" (I don't really like referring to such a great movie as that) of "The Phantom of the Opera". Put aside the fact that this film has garnered a couple unsuccessful (or even some successful) remakes and watch the original with ease. It's hard to hate a film that you find beautiful; as it is difficult to find flaws in this film. Sure, sometimes you can see some unintended flaws in the frames...but come on, it's 1925. You can't expect it to be technically flawless. However, I say that it is. The film is a nice balance of impressive production design and smart story-telling, which is honestly the most uncommon thing in existence. Very few movies can focus on both things equally and get the film right the first time around. But this movie does just that. And that's why it is a masterpiece that all films buffs should already be in the process of watching. Also, try to remember that this film came before any musical adaptation did. So THIS is the original "adaptation" of the novel which most "fans" of the "Phantom of the Opera" franchise have never even heard of. I pity those who are as I have just described, as they have yet to discover the origins of this miraculous story. This is one of the best of the silent era and one of the best films of its year, hands down.
"The Phantom of the Opera" is a tragic love story. It's not a straight-forward one at all. When all is said and done, it's merely a complicated love triangle. The only thing that boosts it up to being miraculous and unmatchable in beauty is the fact that one of the men in this love triangle is a peculiar being; a man who is not a man; a monster. What makes it so powerful is the morals of the monster himself; The Phantom of the Opera (as one would call him). The phantom is a human, although a physically disfigured one. His physical curse also seems to reflect upon his mentality, which may or may not have been already present within his tortured mind. The Phantom himself is given enough background to make him interesting as well as one of the more intriguing horror villains of all time. The entire film takes place in an Opera House, believe it or not. Some scenes take place in the theater, some take place in the rooms otherwise, and other scenes take place underneath the Opera House. Underneath is where the Phantom lurks, longing to lure his true love into his grasp. He eventually compels his beautiful love interest to going down into the dungeons. From then on, the Phantom's disfigurements are revealed, and the quest to end the madness begins. The thing is: the woman's REAL love interest will stop at nothing to save his partner from the clutches of a monster; although like most of the terribly human characters in the film, he lacks understanding of the monster. It's perfectly normal for someone to criticize this movie about its lack of depth in its human characters. The beauty is obviously frightened by the beast, as is everyone else in the society which the film presents. I however feel that these themes of social isolation make "The Phantom of the Opera" one of the finest silent films of all time. There is a reason why every historical film is considered historical, and this film's reason is for its beauty. The film blends horror with romance; drama with tension. When it's all said and done, it's a brilliant film.
Lon Chaney is pretty much famous for his role in this film. His role, of course, is that of The Phantom; the disfigured monstrosity below the theater grounds. The man's performance doesn't necessarily find you rooting for the beast, as that is not the film's intention. You're not really rooting for anyone, as it turns out. Instead, you're following the characters throughout their separate struggles. The Phantom, out of all of the characters in the film, if the one who has basically lived through the most hell. He has to live with his disfigurements, and society has rendered him convinced in his monstrous capabilities. He's convinced that he's a beast who cannot find love unless it is forced; considering that even now, most girls wouldn't exactly want to score with a guy whose face is so ugly that he hides it beneath a mask. Nevertheless, Chaney's performance is by all means landmark. It's that great. Mary Philbin is also very good, portraying the female interest within the love triangle. For a person who has to deal with staring at what could very well be considered the rise of the "horrifically good make-up", she does pretty darn well in keeping her cool (acting-wise, of course). Nothing feels forced, but then again, you never hear her speak. Maybe that's for the better. Hell, I wouldn't have "The Phantom of the Opera" any other way, to be honest.
"The Phantom of the Opera" manages to focus primarily on both its story and its visuals. The film looks good (it's black and white, of course). What's most haunting about it is its use of good production design. The set pieces are incredible, and seem to create a sort of creepy feel that only this film can seem to create. Most of the time, creepiness it generated by suspense and tension, all of it too clear. Here, there is still suspense and tension, although it's not as easy to see it here as it is nowadays. Perhaps this film could be considered, to some, "dated". I however disagree completely. This film is not "dated". You know what I think? I think that every goddamn remake of this film, good or not, is dated. And you know why? Because mediocrity is dated all-together. Films should be good by now, and back then they already were (generally). The make-up effects used for The Phantom are revolutionary, as in for the time, they were incredible. Even now, the Phantom on display here is more wondrously revolting than any other future Phantom. The reason being that there was a whole lot of effort put into the design alone, and even more put into the character's dimensions. What seems to surprise me the most is that this film can be both beautiful and often times horrific; a blend of beauty and monstrosity. It may not be incredibly scary now, although as far as 1920's film standards go, it might as well be scary as hell. None the less, I found this movie to be effective artistically. There's even a scene with Technicolor imagery, which I found to be magnificent. It comes to show how much this particular sequence is key to the film, and how visually beautiful it is supposed to be. Also, the original soundtrack is incredible. Without it, this would have been just another silent film. With it, the movie becomes one of the best films of the silent era. And when I say that, I mean it.
I was really surprised at how much I loved "The Phantom of the Opera". Sure, I expected to like it. Sure, I expected to accept it as a riveting film. But you know what? I personally loved the hell out of it. It's one of the best films for its year, and ranks amongst one of the most influential horror films of all time. But is it a horror film or is it a romance? It's either both or neither. It's simply a mix of not only the two, but many other genres as well. It is a tense nail biter; a visual macabre feast for the eyes. It is an imaginative, one-of-a-kind film; delving deeper into human romance than most films can hope to. I recommend this to anyone willing to watch a classic; anyone who isn't victim to the dumbed down remakes of this movie that have thus released. Even if they have been exposed to such a thing, they can still see this movie, because it's essential for anyone who has the courage to say that they love movies. It is because of films like this that I watch films; to absorb something. With this movie, I happened to...walk away with something. A sort of build-up that wouldn't stop building. Thus, it's still building when the Phantom runs off with the damsel in distress. And that's why it's one of the more effective silent masterpieces in the existence of cinema. It is not to be missed, for its beauty is ever-so-memorable.
January 11, 2013
Christine is being controlled by the Phantom and teared away from her love Vicomte because of it. There are some scenes in this film that you can imagine would have been really exciting in 1925. Still today, the Phantom has the coolest looking face of an antagonist. Ever. I never get tired of looking at it, it's amazed me since day one. Phantom of the Opera is holds a royal seat in the kingdom of horror.
October 5, 2008
I was expecting the Phantom to be a bit more sympathetic, but then again, I'm not sure where I got that idea... Maybe I dreamed it. On a brighter note, I seem to have found my identical twin.
April 29, 2010
Doesn't really have the same impact ( because i had already seen the "big reveal"), but overall it was a good silent film.
September 19, 2009
In the newer musical film, they made the Phantom too good looking and not very scary. In this film he's pretty creepy though. It's not the best looking of the Phantom of the Opera films but it's still one of the better made. There's nothing really scary about when Gerald Butler shows up to the costume party in the update. However, in this film it's pretty awesome when the Phantom shows up with that creepy skeleton mask on. I also like the eerie musical score.
August 12, 2009
First of all, I am very pleased to have just seen my first silent film. If I can speak honestly I think a lot of it was over-acted, which is understandable, considering they were probably making up for the lack of sound. So please don't shoot The last bit of the film where he takes Christine for good and makes her choose between him or killing her lover/the entire opera theatre, was the most exciting part of the film for me. Although I thought it was really cool how they revealed his face early on. Now and days they always wait till the very end so it builds tension, but I quite liked it this way. Also I loved Lon Chaney's make-up, a lot more creepy then you would actually think. So that was great for me. All in All it was good, and I want to see more silent films, I just wasn't to crazy about the acting per se. A tad exaggerated.
December 26, 2012
As far as silent movies go Phantom of the Opera has its moments and isn't as long, drawn out, and boring as some silents tend to be. Lon Chaney is
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