Excellent featurette documentary on the 'Phantom of the Opera' ('43) DVD...
This is an impressive, detailed behind-the-scenes story on the various screen versions of PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, described by narrator Scott MacQueen as "a darkly romantic icon of the gaslight era." The documentary is a look at the earlier versions of the Gaston Leroux story written in 1910 and made even more famous by the 1925 version starring Lon Chaney and Mary Philbin. MacQueen's commentary guides the viewer through the other projects--the 1930 sound version with which Universal hoped to make another big profit after the success of the silent film. Bits of the sound version can be heard here for the first time.
SUSANNA FOSTER and TURHAN BEY both talk about their roles in the 1943 film in which they appeared with NELSON EDDY and CLAUDE RAINS. Jessica Rains, the actor's daughter, recounts some amusing bits of trivia about her father. Film historian RUDY BEHLMER adds some other interesting tidbits about the making of the various versions.
Although other actors were considered first for the role of The Phantom, CLAUDE RAINS was between contracts at Warner Bros. and was thus available to take the role, only insisting that the make-up for the disfigured genius not be too severe.
Interesting to note that the 1925 set was refurbished for the 1943 version and used regularly since then, a set that Universal has recycled many times over the years and is still standing.
Well researched and very interesting, it's a valuable addition to the DVD of 1943's PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, covering a wealth of material and a short history of the Universal studio as the maker of horror films featuring stars like Bela Lugosi, Lon Chaney, Jr., Basil Rathbone and others.
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