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THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA

USA, 1925 (MIFF 1966, Programme 28)

Director: Rupert Julian

The famous The Phantom of the Opera, while not a classic terror, is an enjoyable and roaring melodrama impressive in its showmanship.

It tells of a young aspiring operatic singer, in love with a handsome young officer, having an unknown, unseen sponsor who advances her musical career. Although her benefactor seems benevolent to her, the audience knows that in addition to coaching her, he secures her advancement by threats to the lives of established singers who stand in her way. Filled with gratitude, she sends her lover away, when he seeks marriage. However, unable to resist his appeals, she gives in at last and incurs the wrath of the Phantom. He abducts her and carries her off to his subterranean studio far in the underground labyrinths beneath Paris. It is here that she learns the Phantom's secret in an incident which leads to a spectacular chase and his final destruction.

Lon Chaney's skill in the art of makeup, his flair for the grotesque, his acting in the grand manner, all contribute to the creation of the memorable character evoking both pity and horror. The spectacular settings, the poignant moments of denoument and the many bizarre vignettes add to the effectiveness of this expert piece of hokum.

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