The novel The Phantom of the Opera has been filmed at least ten times plus now. This entry by Hammer Studios is one of the better ones, bringing a liberal change in storytelling as well as some very atmospheric settings and camera work. Directed by Terence Fisher, this film, like Fisher's The Gorgon, is highly poetic. The phantom is a former music professor who has been pushed into his life of seclusion and physical deformity. He is a figure of sympathetic pity rather than horror. It is this point of view which makes this film very interesting as the phantom is not the monster but rather just a man who has been mistreated trying to cope and resurrect his life. Yep, he still lives in the sewers of Paris. The Hammer sets are wonderful all around, particularly the opera house and the winding underground sewers. Hammer also puts their stamp of luxuriant looking cinematography on. Herbert Lom plays the man behind the mask. Lom does a nice job in the film as do all the leads. Heather Sears is a striking heroine, and Edward Da Souza makes an affable leading man. The real star, apart from Fisher's direction, is Michael Gough. Boy, can this man play a mean individual. Gough's screen time is magic as he malevolently belittles everyone around him, steals things that are not his, and lewdly leers at anything in a skirt! The film also boasts some fine staged opera numbers and a beautiful soundtrack. Many scenes show Fisher's competence and ability to create lush moods whilst being able to provide good storytelling.
A fine Phantom edition.