10.15.2010

THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA

 
Phantom film Poster 1925

Gaston Leroux (1868-1927), French journalist and author wrote Le Fantôme de l'Opéra; The Phantom of the Opera (1910); Here is a bit from the book....

The Phantom of the Opera lives under a famous opera house. A mere chorus girl, Christine Daae, becomes, under his guidance, a well known singer with a beautiful voice. But her old child hood sweetheart, the Vicount Raoul de Changy, has also entered the picture.

The past comes back to haunt her, the future ahead is uncertain, and the present is undecided. Who will win the heart of Christine?; the handsome, rich Raoul or the masked Angel of Music? A story of romance, murder, sacrifice and sadness, this riveting, seductive tale will keep your emotions high until the very last page of the shocking conclusion.



Hollywood made a film of Phantom but it had barely any resemblance to the original book. The book was a romance and Hollywood made a horror film of the fantastic story of Christine and the Phantom.

Few films were as memorable and downright scary as the silent classic The Phantom of the Opera. When it was originally shown in 1925, however, it wasn't exactly silent. Many theaters were equipped with booming theaters organs that would match each the frightening action with spine-tingling music.


The film features Lon Chaney, the Man of a Thousand Faces, in the title role. The masked and facially deformed Phantom haunts the Paris Opera House, causing murder and mayhem in an attempt to force the management to make the woman he loves a star. It is most famous for Lon Chaney's intentionally horrific, self-applied make-up, which was kept a studio secret until the film's premiere.


Lon Chaney as Quasimodo the Hunchback of Notre Dame

Following the success of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Chaney was once again given the freedom to create his own make-up as the Phantom, a habit which became almost as famous as the films he starred in. Chaney painted his eye sockets black, giving a skull-like impression to them. He also pulled the tip of his nose up and pinned that in place with wire, enlarging his nostrils with black paint, and putting a set of jagged false teeth into his mouth to complete the ghastly deformed look of the Phantom.

Lon Chaney, Mary Philbin in The Phantom of the Opera
When audiences first saw The Phantom of the Opera, they were said to have screamed or fainted at the scene where Christine pulls the concealing mask away, revealing his skull-like features to the audience (but not, for a few seconds, to Christine).


Thankfully Playwright Andrew Lloyd Webber converted the original Leroux book into a fantastic stage musical. Which I got to see in Detroit's Masonic Theater. But after all the years of seeing Lon Chaney playing the Phantom, I didn't understand the play! Loved the sets and music but just didn't get the plot. It just wasn't a horror story at all. So I went home and read the entire Gaston Leroux ebook online. Ah now the play made sense!


The music was composed by Lloyd Webber, and most lyrics were written by Charles Hart. Additional lyrics were written by Richard Stilgoe. Alan Jay Lerner was an early collaborator, but he withdrew after completing work on a single song, Masquerade, and died shortly thereafter. Phantom won the 1986 Olivier Award and the 1988 Tony Award for Best Musical, and Michael Crawford won the 1986 Olivier and 1988 Tony for Best Performance by an Actor in a Musical.

The show has been seen in 149 cities in 25 countries, and has played to over 100 million people. With total worldwide box office receipts of over ($5.1bn), Phantom is the highest-grossing entertainment event of all time. The New York production alone has grossed US $715 million, making it the most financially successful Broadway show in history.

Then in 2004 Hollywood finally got it right! (At least for me) They picked Gerard Butler as a very handsome and charismatic Phantom and the beautiful Emmy Rossum as Christine.


The film made sense that Christine would have a very difficult choice whether to stay with her Angel of Music the Phantom or marry the Viscount. I voted for the PHANTOM! Gerard Butler was such a gorgeous Phantom and this is one of my favorite DVDs of all time. I bought the Special 2 DVD set with lots of special features and behind the scenes stories. I just love it.


All things related to this story available on my Amazon store!

4 comments:

Detroit RockBlog said...

Excellent!!

RetroKimmer said...

Thank you it took me three hours!

Discount Broadway Tickets said...

I just saw Phantom on DVD and I have to agree with maddysegal. I thought it was fantastic and Butler was amazing as the Phantom. I have to admit I was a tad skeptical about him singing, but I was blown away. I thought he was fabulous.

RetroKimmer said...

Totally would have run off with the Phantom if he was Gerry Butler!

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