The Phantom of the Opera (1925) is the original face of horror. After Nosferatu, The Phantom of the Opera is the second most influential silent era monster movie. Based on Le Fantôme de l’Opéra by French author Gaston Leroux, Universal Pictures made the most faithful adaptation ever filmed. Although not officially part of the lineup, the 1925 film was a major influence of the classic Universal monster movies. The Phantom is probably the monster I knew the least about. I only knew he was a man who lived beneath an opera house, played the pipe organ, and wore a mask to hide his disfigured face.
What better actor to play him than “The Man of a Thousand Faces” himself Lon Chaney. After transforming into Quasimodo for The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Chaney created an even more terrifying monster. As described in the novel, The Phantom has a skull face that shocked 1920’s audiences and even made me shudder. The Phantom of the Opera had a difficult production with director Rupert Julian being difficult to work with, several endings being shot, the inclusion of sound footage, and more. The version I saw was 1 hour & 19 minutes with color tinting.
The story concerns the Paris Opera House and the ghostly figure that haunts it. The Phantom falls in love with singer Christine Daaé and demands she replace prima donna Carlotta. Christine is torn between her masked admirer and her lover Viscount Raoul de Chagny. The Phantom named Erik is at first poetic, then ruthless when his face is revealed. He hangs stagehand Joseph Buquet and tortures Raoul and the Persian in an intricate dungeon of horrors. Although given a traditional ending for a monster movie, The Phantom of the Opera inspired generations.
P.S. Being public domain, I’ve supplied the full movie underneath.