02 September 2014

The Phantom of the Opera (1925)
107 min.
Directed by Rupert Julian.
With Lon Chaney, Mary Philbin, Norman Kerry, Arthur Edmund Carewe, John St. Polis, Snitz Edwards, Gibson Gowland, Mary Fabian, Virginia Pearson.
An unforgettable performance from Lon Chaney highlights this most well-known adaptation of Gaston Leroux's original 1910 novel.

Horribly deformed, the tortured Erik (Chaney) is really 'the Phantom,' a menacing figure who skulks about beneath a Paris Opera house and worships lovely soprano Christine Daae (Philbin) from afar.

Living only to hear his true love's enchanting voice, the Phantom gives Christine's career a push, and before long she's the company's leading diva.

For his part, Erik is content to remain a passive exercise in bittersweet sadness.

But the moment the Phantom feels his love has been rejected, he becomes a embittered monster...and woe be to any who get in his way!

A silent horror masterpiece - and at times, a powerful love story too - this 1925 first is made truly remarkable by the eye dropping makeup for Chaney (who also had a hand in directing several scenes).

There's a pervasive sense of melancholy that The Man of a Thousand Faces brings to one of his finest roles.

Best scenes include the Phantom's entrance as The Red Death at the Bal Masque, the journey through the underground catacombs, and the notorious unmasking sequence.

Followed by countless remakes, most notably the 1943 Universal version starring Claude Rains, and the 1962 Hammer outing starring Herbert Lom.

Fans of Chaney would also do well by visiting his turn in The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923).

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