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

Thursday, August 14, 2014


Heather Sears and Herbert Lom
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (1962). Director: Terence Fisher.

The second color remake of the silent classic stars Herbert Lom [Mark of the Devil] as a presumed dead music professor and composer whose work was stolen by a loathsome publisher named d'Arcy (Michael Gough of Black Zoo), and who haunts the Paris opera, kidnapping new singer Christine (Heather Sears of Room at the Top) so he can coach her in her role. The appropriated opera is based on the life of Joan of Arc, but it sounds more like a 20th century work than something from a previous century. An early scene when a corpse suddenly flies across the stage from a rope during a performance makes you think this might be the old story reworked as a nifty Hammer horror film, but aside from some rats and stabs to the eyeball, this version is not much more horrific than the 1943 Phantom of the Opera, and has a less effective chandelier sequence as well. Lom is not as interesting as the disfigured composer as you might expect, Sears is competent but forgettable, and Gough steals the picture with his utterly vicious and slimy portrayal of d'Arcy. Some of the developments of the script give one pause: a producer (Edward de Souza) learns the truth about who actually composed the opera, but does nothing about it, despite d'Arcy's wretched character and his need for comeuppance. In another scene a landlady somehow knows that Lom is still alive even when the police don't. The movie is entertaining, but somehow disjointed.

Verdict: Disappointing thriller with some good moments. **1/2.

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