Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, April 5, 2012


Claude Rains
PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (1943), Director: Arthur Lubin.

Handsome Technicolor version of the silent classic stars the great Claude Rains as Erique Claudin, who loves the pretty singer Christine (Susanna Foster), paying for her lessons in secret, but has a tragic and fateful misunderstanding with a music publisher that results in the latter's death and Claudin getting a face full of corrosive acid. Thereafter he haunts the Paris Opera in a cloak and mask committing murders to advance the career of Christine. Nelson Eddy, in fine voice, plays lead baritone and love interest, Anatole. Edgar Barrier has what is probably his best and biggest part in movies as Inspector Doubert, who not only investigates the murders but is Anatole's rival for Christine. Fritz Feld, Fritz Lieber, and Steven Geray all have supporting roles and all are good. The horror aspects of the story are fairly muted with the exception of a well-executed scene with the chandelier crashing into the audience; Lubin was hardly the best choice for director. Still the film is good to look at, Rains is as excellent as ever [Barrier and the others are also more than acceptable], and there's some wonderful music and singing. The French opera [actually a German opera sung in French] is the third act of Flowtow's Martha. The Russian opera was cobbled together from Tchiakovsky's 4th symphony even though there were plenty of Russian operas, including Tchiakovsky's, to choose from.Very attractive settings.

Verdict: Not all it could have been but quite entertaining. ***.

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