[Film Review] Phantom of the Opera (1943) 7.0/10

Leo 2022-07-05 20:51:19

Far more a romantic musical than a grisly horror, Universal's 1943 Technicolor remake of PHANTOM OF THE OPERA shares the same set of Rupert Julian's 1925 silent predecessor (starring Lon Chaney as the Phantom), directed by contract director Arthur Lubin, it is a costly production that brings all the chromatic resplendency to wow its audience, notably, the replica of the Opéra Garnier interior, seen in color, with its grand live performance (lead by Nelson Eddy and Susanna Foster, both belters of orotund register), no wonder the Phantom's doleful tale takes a back seat here.

Here, the Phantom aka. Erique Claudin is played by Claude Rains, a veteran violinist of the opera house, after a perfunctory chain of occurrences, misfortunes push him into murderous act and he ends up a wanted man at large with a disfigured visage, conveniently hiding in the immense and palatial Opéra Garnier (containing thousands of rooms, boasted by one of the managers), he continues creating every possible opportunity for his unwitting obsession, young opera star Christine DuBois (Foster) - both hailed from Provenance and enchanted by the same lullaby, including a flagrant murder of the haughty diva Biancarolli (Farrar, sharing a Celeste Holm resemblance and emanating naive derring-do when encountering a masked maniac), the barrier is clearly for her understudy Christine,who seems too blithe to be bothered by the macabre affairs as long as she has the stage to sing, not to mention that she has been clandestinely and financially supported by Erique for expensive singing lessons, yet she has no clue of anything about her secret admirer .

For hardened horror fans, this hybrid of two tonally incongruent genres never pay off, Rains doesn't sport a mystic killer's flair and any trace of gore is excised completely, not to mention the comic relief of Christine being simultaneously courted by both baritone Anatole Garron (Eddy) and Raoul Dubert (Barrier), the policeman who investigates the Phantom cases, and surprisingly, she gladsomely opts for a third alternative, leaving the two men in buddied chagrin.

Be that as it may, Lubin's opulent-looking pageantry prides itself with its own idiom in recreating Gaston Leroux's belle époque succès de scandale, for what it is worth, a chipper vibe is a good change if one can squeeze some frivolity out of a tall -tale predicated on gruesome madness.

referential entries: Joel Schumacher's THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (2004, 7.0/10); Robert Z. Leonard's NEW MOON (1940, 5.3/10).

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Extended Reading

Phantom of the Opera quotes

  • Enrique Claudin: Mademoiselle, may I speak to you for a minute?

    Christine DuBois: Why, of course.

    Enrique Claudin: You weren't on the stage tonight for the third act curtain call.

    Christine DuBois: Everyone seems to notice. It's really quite flattering.

    Enrique Claudin: [Becoming concerned] Why weren't you there?

    [Christine is puzzled]

    Enrique Claudin: Forgive me, but I have been a part of the Opera for so long. Everybody, everything connected with it, I feel it is so much a part of my life.

    [Christine pauses, then smiles]

    Christine DuBois: Yes, well, Monsieur Villeneuve is waiting for you.

    Enrique Claudin: You weren't ill, were you? You're not in any trouble, are you? Why it's impertinent of me, I know, but...

    [Claudin stalls, soon Christine kindly shakes his hand and smiles]

    Christine DuBois: You're very kind. Thank you.

    [Christine starts to leave]

    Enrique Claudin: CHRISTINE!

    [Christine turns back to Claudin in shock, Claudin soon realizes his mistake]

    Enrique Claudin: I'm sorry. Forgive me.

  • [Claudin is talking to Christine as they descend into the catacombs beneath the Opera]

    Enrique Claudin: See? Didn't I tell you it was beautiful? You didn't know we had a lake all to ourselves, did you?

    [Christine covers her face and sobs]

    Enrique Claudin: They've poisoned your mind against me. That's why you're afraid. Look at your lake, Christine. You'll love it here when you get used to the dark. And you'll love the dark, too. It's friendly and peaceful. It brings rest and relief from pain. It's right under the Opera. The music comes down and the darkness distills it, cleanses it of the suffering that made it. Then it's all beauty. And life here is like a resurrection.