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Dr. Hohner (Karloff), theatre physician at the Vienna Royal Theatre, murders his mistress, the star soprano when his jealousy drives him to the point of mad obsession. Ten years later, another young singer (Foster) reminds Hohner of the late diva, and his old mania kicks in. Hohner wants to prevent her from singing for anyone but him, even if it means silencing her forever. The singer's fiancée (Bey) rushes to save her in the film's climax. Written by
Stephen Cooke <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Even though the legendary Boris Karloff gave image to hundreds of cinematic monsters, psychopaths and mad scientists, he never played the titular character in Gaston Leroux' acclaimed masterwork "The Phantom of the Opera". Other contemporary horror stars did, like Lon Chaney and Claude Rains. Perhaps this production was Universal's attempt to involve Karloff in a horrific opera film-production anyway, re-using the expensive sets of the Phantom-film that was released one year earlier. The story is set in a prominent Vienna opera building where Boris stars as the resident physician, Dr. Hohner, and successfully hides a dark secret from his friends and co workers. After a short intro and a truly well choreographed flashback, we learn who Dr. Hohner murdered his fiancée and upcoming star-singer Marcellina because he feared her magically developing voice would come between their relationship. Now, ten years later, the new promising singer Angela with a voice almost identical to Marcellina's arrives at the theater and once again awakens Hohner's maniacal lusts. He hypnotizes her into never singing again, but Angela's young and devoted lover Franz carries on battling to make Angela share her wondrous voice with the world. "The Climax" is a beautiful movie to look at, with the terrific use of color and a nearly endless amount of great decors, but it surely could have used a slightly better screenplay. It's a rather predictable film with very few action scenes and only a bit of old-fashioned, legitimate tension during the last 15 minutes. There are many marvelous yet overlong opera sequences, even a lot more than in the actual "Phantom of the Opera", but they naturally slow down the film's pace and eventually even affect (negatively) the acting performances of Boris Karloff and Gale Sondergaard. It's an enjoyable mystery/thriller to a certain extent, but if you want to see Karloff at his most malicious, check out Val Lewton's "The Body Snatcher" or "Bedlam".
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