Monday, November 5, 2012

Jason watches PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (1925)

And with Dennis James on the Mighty Wurlitzer, of course.

This is Lon Chaney at his best. Not just in the grotesque makeup transformation, but in his oddly compelling and sympathetic portrayal of the Phantom. The big unmasking scene is brilliant, and his whole network of underground tunnels and traps is a whole lot of fun. And I was surprised to find there's a good deal of comic relief in it. Lots of fun.

Oh, and the masquerade ball was in Technicolor (apparently 5 sequences were shot in color as well, but in the version last Friday this was the only one in color,) which is pretty important since the Phantom shows up with a skull mask and wearing all red--a pretty obvious reference to Poe's The Masque of the Red Death. That was very cool.

I should also note that this was the silent version of the 1929 re-release, which was the sixth release of the film. Each time it was cut down a bit from previous versions, and in the 1929 version they added a sound bit in the beginning with a man holding a lantern and introducing what has led up to the events you are about to witness (BTW, the industry term for a talking scene inserted into an otherwise silent movie is a "goat gland" scene. Don't ask me why.) Anyway, I say this was the silent version because due to some technical glitch or mistake, there was no sound for the goat gland scene. But we did get to hear Dennis James rocking the Tocatta and Fugue in D minor, so that was cool.

Running Time: 85 minutes
My Total Minutes: 302,361

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