Phantom Of The Opera (1925)
Critic Consensus: Decades later, it still retains its ability to scare -- and Lon Chaney's performance remains one of the benchmarks of the horror genre.
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as The Phantom
as Christine Daae
as Raoul de Chagny
as Florine Papillon
as Philippe de Chagny
as Philippe de Chagny [...
as Mama Valerius
as Joseph Buguet
as La Sorelli
as Mons. Ricard
as Mons. Moncharmin
as Count Ruboff
as M. Richard, manager
as Director of Opera Or...
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Critic Reviews for Phantom Of The Opera
The atmosphere matches Chaney's performance perfectly. His grotesque appearance is achieved with wires, cotton balls, and eye-dilating chemicals, but his character, as usual, is animated from within.
Lon Chaney's performance as the hideous organist prowling the sewers beneath the Paris Opera is still a cornerstone of gothic horror.
Though Mr. Chaney wears a more grotesque make-up than ever, the film play seems only pretty good.
The main inducement to watch remains Chaney's tragic, ineffably sad figure.
Audience Reviews for Phantom Of The Opera
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.
Well, at least I can say I have seen the original now.
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.
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