Phantom of the Opera (1925)
“Phantom of the Opera (1925)” is a classic silent film, which features the legendary Lon Chaney, Sr., (also known as the “Man of a Thousand Faces”, due to his great number of self make-up jobs) as Erik, the phantom. He lives five levels below the Paris Opera House and lurks in shadows, killing those who betray his secret, the fact he exists below. He falls for the pure and innocent opera singer Christine Daae (Mary Philbin) and he is her teacher and inspiration. He threatens the prima donna Carlotta (Mary Fabian) to remove herself from singing so that Christine may take her spot, or she will be sorry. She winds up sick the first night and Christine indeed takes her place. When she refuses to listen the second time, the lights flicker on and off, and the chandelier comes crashing down. Interestingly, the set was made to resemble the real opera house in Paris.
The phantom takes Christine to his lair below, but she is frightened of him. She awakens in her chamber, which he provided for her, to see the dress, shoes, and mirror with her name on it that he has prepared for her. In addition, he leaves a note, warning her to never touch his mask. Yet when she hears him playing at the organ she goes to him and, sure enough, the temptation is too great and she removes his mask, only to see his hideous skull-like face beneath it. As he grabs her by the face, he cries, “Feast your eyes—glut your soul on my accursed ugliness!”
The phantom allows her to go back up top, with the promise she can still sing in the opera, as long as she stays away from her lover, Raoul de Chagny (Norman Kerry). She breaks this promise and the phantom overhears their plans for escape. He captures Raoul, along with Inspector Ledoux of the Secret Police, tortures them with intolerable heat, and then he nearly drowns them. Christine promises to stay with the phantom if he will spare them. He then whisks her away in a carriage, driving like a mad man, with several people chasing after the carriage with torches, determined to be rid of the phantom for good. When Christine leaps from the carriage and it overturns, the phantom must flee for his life. How does it all end? You will have to watch to see but this classic silent film still works well, especially due to Chaney’s phantom makeup and performance. His need for someone pure to help him battle against his evil soul is a nice theme. However, his methods are definitely evil. Enjoy watching the phantom. It still carries a wallop during the unmasking scene! We are awarding the movie our Dove Seal for ages 12-plus.