Pit violinist Claudin hopelessly loves rising operatic soprano Christine Dubois (as do baritone Anatole and police inspector Raoul) and secretly aids her career. But Claudin loses both his touch and his job, murders a rascally music publisher in a fit of madness, and has his face etched with acid. Soon, mysterious crimes plague the Paris Opera House, blamed on a legendary "phantom" whom none can find in the mazes and catacombs. But both of Christine's lovers have plans to ferret him out. Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
In the scene where the three heroes escape the Phantom's crumbling lair (which involve the three characters running from a cave in) only Susanna Foster actually appeared in the scene, the two male stars were deemed too important to film such a risky scene and had stunt doubles. See more »
(at around 40mins) There is an prominent cymbal crash in the orchestral score which happens at about a second before the actor actually clashes his pair of cymbals. See more »
[Claudin is talking to Christine as they descend into the catacombs beneath the Opera]
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]
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...
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A film best appreciated by music lovers, if not by horror fans and purists
First of all, let me state that I am a lover of classical music. I am not a fan of horror films. This particular version of the classic horror tale is very different in plot and in tone from its original literary source materialas well as the previous silent film version starring Lon Chaney in the title role. But nevertheless, the 1943 film succeeds beautifully as a romantic melodrama rather than as a horror film. For those who love classical music and performing arts, you're in luck with this one. Those looking for terror and chills, as well as a more faithful version of the literary work, look elsewhere.
Permit me to express my adoration for this film from the beginning. I was only three years old when I first saw this film, and I was still crazy about the Andrew Lloyd Webber stage musical I saw during that time (it was my first time seeing it, and since then I have seen it thrice on the professional stage, most recently two years ago at the age of 17). I immediately fell in love with this grand old Technicolor film the first time I saw it.
But I will be brief in presenting the following elements. The story here is vastly different from the original Gaston Leroux work, yet it works wonderfully well due to its originality and freshness. The Phantom is presented here as a tragic antihero rather than the melodramatic "living skeleton" Lon Chaney gave us in the 1925 silent version. We have splendid acting from all the performers in this film, most notably Claude Rains in the title role. We are given a sympathetic, tragic view of a lonely composer/violinist who fails to achieve his most admirable goal, despite Rains' limited performance time in the film. This particular role is what earned Rains the status of one of my all-time favorite actors since he impressed me at such an early age. However, it is Nelson Eddy and Susanna Foster who are the real stars of the film, expressing their rich and unique vocal talents within the film's glorious opera sequences, which are the among the film's many highlights. And the Oscar-winning production values and Technicolor cinematography are rich and opulent, fully expressing the wonders of a 19th Century Paris and its magnificent Opera House interiors. The humor between the rivaling Nelson Eddy and Edgar Barrier is pretty good, too.
And the music! Under composer Edward Ward's Oscar-nominated score and creativity the opera sequences are magnificently staged, yet here I will solely express my love for one thing: Edward Ward's "Lullaby of the Bells." "Lullaby of the Bells" is the Phantom's musical leitmotif throughout the film, and its effectiveness is expressed within the world of the film, arranged for violin, solo piano, piano and vocal (sung beautifully by Susanna Foster and Nelson Eddy), and, most impressively, for piano and orchestra. How wonderful to know that Rains himself learned how to play this lovely song on piano and on the violin, even though he never played a musical instrument before at the time! Unfortunately, like Rains' tragic misunderstanding with his admirable goal, the song is barely available on CD and sheet music for the song is almost nonexistent. The only CD that contains a modern symphonic rerecording of the song is "Piano in Hollywood: The Classic Movie Concertos." However, that particular recording is unimpressive and weak compared to the lush and dramatic power of the original as heard in the film's unforgettable finale, yet it does have its moments here and there on the CD. Nevertheless, since I am always impressed with the universality and effectiveness of the song, it remains my all-time favorite song unto this day.
I simply can't praise this film highly enough, so please watch it and judge it for yourself. But as I said before, this particular version will best appeal to those who love classical music and the performing arts, including great acting and drama. For those of you who expect a Gothic horror tale of a masked "living skeleton" who creates torture chambers within the Paris Opera House catacombs, an "Angel of Music" who hides behind a young soprano's dressing room mirror, and a Phantom who laughs melodramatically, then this film is not for you.
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