Sunday, October 4, 2009

Phantom of the Opera (1925) or: She's not having it.

To start my "get to know Lon Chaney" month I started with one of the biggies: 1925's Phantom of the Opera. I started with this because I own a really, really bad copy (Phantom is a public domain film, so my copy comes from one of those "50 Pack of Horror" collections that I got for 10 bucks. Money well spent actually.)

Based upon the novel by Gaston Leroux (that is a villain's name if I ever heard one..) Phantom of the Opera stars Chaney as the Phantom/Erik, a disfigured music connoisseur who lurks in the old abandoned torture chambers underneath the Paris Opera. The Phantom has taken a shine to Christine (Mary Philbin) a young up and coming singer. Staying hidden, Erik begins to coach Christine, and soon she is good enough to be the understudy for the lead, Carlotta. This is not good enough for Erik however, and he soon plots to eliminate Carlotta so that Christine can be the star.
All goes according to plan and soon Erik plans to take Christine as his wife. Well he would, if it wasn't for that pesky Raoul, an Officer who already owns Christine's heart. Erik kidnaps Christine and makes her promise never to see Raoul again. She promises, to save her life, and promptly arranges to met Raoul at the Masked Ball.........

Scariest Costume EVER........
Erik also attends the Ball, dressed as the Red Death. Heartbroken over Christine's deception, Erik, now truly the Phantom, plots his revenge..
This film is really incredible. The set design of the Paris Opera House is spooky and majestic, the proper setting for this tragic tale. Chaney--well Chaney is amazing. His Phantom is both sympathetic and terrifying. His reaction, upon seeing Christine with Raoul at the Ball, is heartbreaking--and done completely through body language. The scene where Christine unmasks Erik, giving her and us our first glimpse of his deformed face still chills. Chaney, who did his own makeup, achieved the horrifying look by pinning his nose back with a wire. Can you imagine how painful that must have been? Try that Eddie Murphy. You don't have the guts...
Chaney made Phantom after Hunchback, so he was already a well established actor. Phantom solidified his reputation as the "Man of a Thousand Faces" and convinced Universal that Horror was where it's at. We have so much to thank him for!!
Next is Hunchback, which I should have watched first, but I was really in the mood for a musical. HeHe.

3 comments:

Cellar Door said...

I've seen "The Phantom of the Paradise". That's my only reference. Crazy!

Ticketwood said...

As many of Musicals lovers I LOVE the Phantom of the Opera! It is my favourite ever... Last year I’ve been in NY & I tried to get my ticket …guess what everything was sold out that show how great the show is. Anyhow I end up getting it from a site through Casatickets.com. Next week I’m going to visit my sister and I just got some pretty good tix from the same place .So I'll be analyzing as well as enjoying the show.

Jen said...

What the hell- an advertisment! Guess I will have to approve posts now. Thanks jackass.