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The Phantom of Paris (1931)

Passed | | Drama, Thriller | 12 September 1931 (USA)
Cheri-Bibi is an escape artist wrongly imprisoned for murdering the wealthy father of his admirer Cecile. The real murderer is Cecile's fiancé, so how will Bibi escape his death sentence and win back Cecile?


John S. Robertson


Gaston Leroux (adapted from the novel: "Chéri-Bibi" by), Edwin Justus Mayer (dialogue) | 1 more credit »




Complete credited cast:
John Gilbert ... Chéri-Bibi
Leila Hyams ... Cecile Bourrelier
Lewis Stone ... Detective Costaud
Jean Hersholt ... Herman
C. Aubrey Smith ... Bourrelier
Natalie Moorhead ... Vera
Ian Keith ... Marquis Du Touchais
Alfred Hickman ... Dr. Gorin


Bibi is a world class escape artist, but he cannot escape the false murder charge that is placed on him. Max has killed Bourrelier before he was removed from the will so that he will be rich when he marries Cecile. Together with Vera, they put the blame on Bibi, who is a romantic rival to Max, and he is sentenced to death. But Bibi escapes before his execution and hides in Herman's secret cellar. When he learns that Max is dying, Bibi goes to his house for his confession, but Max dies before it is told to anyone else. So Bibi, has just one chance, and he goes to Dr. Gorin who will make him look like Max so that he can clear his name and put the blame where it belongs - on Max, even in death. Written by Tony Fontana <tony.fontana@spacebbs.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


For money one man would murder, for love another would risk his life. (Print Ad-Houston Home Journal, ((Perry, Ga.)) 22 October 1931)


Drama | Thriller


Passed | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


Originally announced in 1927 as a film starring Lon Chaney under the title 'Seven Seas'. See more »


[All goofs for this title are spoilers.] See more »


Dr. Gorin: Costaud. What will you do in the hereafter when you meet the souls of people you've made suffer unjustly?
Detective Costaud: I handle what comes before me, as you do, Doctor... the best I can.
Dr. Gorin: I know several great detectives who are human...
See more »


Alternate-language version of Cheri-Bibi (1931) See more »

User Reviews

don't understand the title, but a good performance by John Gilbert
14 October 2017 | by blanche-2See all my reviews

"The Phantom of Paris" stars John Gilbert, Leila Hyams, C. Aubrey Smith, Lewis Stone, and Ian Keith. There's no Phantom, but the novel was written by the author of Phantom of the Opera, Gaston Leroux, so I suppose the producers wanted audiences to make the connection.

Made in 1931, the movie was somewhat of a surprise to me. I always had the idea that John Gilbert was a wimpy guy with a mustache - I had only seen him in Queen Christina - but I was wrong. Here he's handsome, elegant, and his acting is marvelous. So much has been written about his voice and how Louis Mayer changed it in "His Glorious Night" to make him sound silly - I actually never believed that. I think the corny dialogue and saying "I love you" out loud - something audiences had never heard - did him in. In truth, he had a beautiful speaking voice in a tenor range - he incorporated the mid- Atlantic speech of the day as did Bette Davis, Katharine Hepburn and others, and his diction was perfect.

Here he plays a renowned magician, Cheri-Bibi, who is in love with a beautiful socialite Cecile Bourrelier (Leila Hyams). Her father (C. Aubrey Smith) does not approve and instead wants her to marry the Marquis Du Touchais (Ian Keith). Cecile wants to marry Cheri-Bibi. Du Touchais then learns that Cecile's father is making up a new will and omitting him. He kills Bourrelier, but Cheri-Bibi is arrested and sentenced to death.

This is a really neat story but one has to account for dramatic license - the disguise used in this film is obvious, but entertaining nonetheless.

Leila Hyams was a beautiful, vivacious actress in the early days of talkies who retired, married an agent, and stayed married to him for 50 years. Ian Keith was a wonderful stage actor who played character roles in films - he does a great job here, as do C. Aubrey Smith, Lewis Stone, Jean Hersholt, and Natalie Moorhead.

John Gilbert would be dead five years later - "Phantom of Paris" is an excellent chance to see why he had such great stardom. I had a chance once to speak with his daughter, Leatrice Joy Gilbert, a lovely woman with two actor sons, John Fountain and Gideon Fountain. She was very proud of her father's work, as she should have been.

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Release Date:

12 September 1931 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Der Magier von Paris See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
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