Double Feature

The Phantom of the Opera (1925)

Phantom of the Paradise

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The Phantom of the Opera (1925)

Arguably tied with Murnau’s Nosferatu as the best silent horror picture, The Phantom of the Opera (1925) is the version most faithful to the Gaston Leroux novel and it dwarfs subsequent film and stage incarnations. Lead star Lon Chaney Sr.’s renowned skill for transforming himself into one unrecognizable persona after another in each of his films, goes for broke, a pinnacle of the ‘self-torture-for-art’ school of acting. It’s an audacious vision of the warped, disfigured and lovelorn Phantom residing in the cellars of the Paris Opera house. The camera traverses subterranean warrens, underground canals and secret chambers – the Phantom’s private territory where he hides novice opera diva, Christine (Mary Philbin) after spiriting her away. Christine’s unmasking of the Phantom while he plays his pipe organ remains one of the peak shock sequences in horror cinema.

“The atmosphere matches Chaney’s performance perfectly. His grotesque appearance is achieved with wires, cotton balls, and eye-dilating chemicals, but his character, as usual, is animated from within.” – Keith Phipps, A.V. Club

Bernard Rose discusses The Phantom of the Opera for Trailers From Hell.

Ariel Schudson explores the history of The Phantom of the Opera on the New Beverly blog.

Director
Rupert Julian
Starring
Lon Chaney, Mary Philbin, Norman Kerry, Arthur Edmund Carewe, Gibson Gowland
Year
1925
Country
USA
Format
35mm
Running Time
93 minutes

Phantom of the Paradise

Director Brian De Palma’s update of Phantom of the Opera, with additional bits of The Picture of Dorian Gray and Faust, set at the dawn of corporate rock. Composer Winslow (William Finley) has his music stolen by Swan (Paul Williams), a record producer about to open up a concert hall, The Paradise. When Winslow goes to Swan’s record company to demand the music’s return, he’s beaten and framed for drug dealing by Swan’s henchmen. While in prison and after his escape, Winslow suffers disfigurement, further fueling his revenge quest. He lurks in the bowels of The Paradise, terrorizing Swan and his bands. Coming face-to-face, Swan cons Winslow into believing he can still have his music produced and use the singer of his choice, Phoenix (Jessica Harper). Things go predictably wrong and Phoenix is replaced by Beef (Gerrit Graham), an egocentric glam star. Electrocutions onstage, double crosses and Swan’s seduction of the innocent Phoenix follow, with Winslow near hopeless when he realizes Swan is immortal due to a pact with Satan.

“Not just one of the flashiest, angriest musical films, but an enduring and damning kiss-off to America’s spiraling desperation for entertainment.” – Jacob Oller, The Film Stage

“A very good horror comedy-drama about a disfigured musician haunting a rock palace. Brian De Palma’s direction and script makes for one of the very rare ‘backstage’ rock story pix, catching the garishness of the glitter scene in its own time.” – Variety

Edgar Wright discusses Phantom of the Paradise for Trailers From Hell.

In a round table discussion on The Dissolve, critics Noel Murray, Keith Phipps, Nathan Rabin, Matt Singer & Scott Tobias discuss the devil’s bargains and unsparing satire of Phantom Of The Paradise.

View the full set of US lobby cards for Phantom of the Paradise on the New Beverly forum.

Marc Edward Heuck discusses Phantom of the Paradise on the New Beverly blog.

 

Director
Brian De Palma
Starring
William Finley, Paul Williams, Jessica Harper, Gerrit Graham, George Memmoli, Archie Hahn, Jeffrey Comanor, Peter Elbling
Year
1974
Rated
PG
Country
USA
Format
35mm
Running Time
92 minutes

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