Film Review – PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (1943)

PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (1943, USA, 92m, PG) ***
Drama, Horror, Music, Romance, Thriller
dist. Universal Pictures (USA), General Film Distributors (GFD) (UK); pr co. Universal Pictures; d. Arthur Lubin; w. Eric Taylor, Samuel Hoffenstein, Hans Jacoby (based on the novel “Le Fantôme de L’Opéra” by Gaston Leroux); pr. George Waggner; ph. W. Howard Greene, Hal Mohr (Technicolor | 1.37:1); m. Edward Ward; ed. Russell F. Schoengarth; ad. Alexander Golitzen, John B. Goodman.
cast: Nelson Eddy (Anatole Garron), Susanna Foster (Christine DuBois), Claude Rains (Erique Claudin), Edgar Barrier (Raoul Daubert), Leo Carrillo (Signor Ferretti), Jane Farrar (Biancarolli), J. Edward Bromberg (Amiot), Fritz Feld (Lecours), Frank Puglia (Villeneuve), Steven Geray (Vercheres), Barbara Everest (Aunt), Hume Cronyn (Gerard), Fritz Leiber (Franz Liszt), Nicki Andre (Lorenzi), Gladys Blake (Jeanne), Elvira Curci (Biancarolli’s Maid), Hans Herbert (Marcel), Kate Drain Lawson (Landlady), Miles Mander (Pleyel), Rosina Galli (Christine’s Maid).
Lavish production of Gaston Leroux’s novel in which the talented Christine (Foster) is unaware that her singing lessons are being funded by a secret admirer, Enrique (Rains), a mysterious violinist with a disfigured face. Christine’s colleagues become suspicious when mysterious accidents start occurring at the Paris Opera House, as the deaths coincide with her meteoric rise to stardom. Christine’s suitors, Raoul (Barrier) and Anatole (Eddy), brave the dark recesses of the opera house to find the true culprit. The film suffers from the imbalance of music to horror with the former creating some longueurs. Attempts at comedy also feel forced. Rains does his best, but his role lacks the motivation that was apparently evident in earlier drafts of the script. Some effective scenes do emerge, however – notably the chase through the flies and the finale in the Phantom’s lair. The extravagant and evocative art direction and crisp Technicolor cinematography deservedly won Oscars. Filmed many times before and since to varying degrees of success.
AA: Best Cinematography, Color (Hal Mohr, W. Howard Greene); Best Art Direction-Interior Decoration, Color (Alexander Golitzen, John B. Goodman, Russell A. Gausman, Ira Webb)
AAN: Best Sound, Recording (Bernard B. Brown (Universal SSD)); Best Music, Scoring of a Musical Picture (Edward Ward)