Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Phantom of the Opera (1962)

Director: Terence Fisher

Starring: Herbert Lom, Heather Sears, Edward de Souza, Michael Gough, Thorley Walters

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Out of the hell-fire of horror unimaginable rises the figure of terror incarnate!

Plot: Herbert Lom plays the ghostly figure with deep pathos, filled with rage as his art is stolen by a greedy royal (Michael Gough). His revenge: to haunt the opera house where his music is played and where he meets a beautiful and talented singer.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again? Maybe

#16 on Hammer Horror (1957-1976)

I've always been an avid movie watcher. Some people read voraciously; I watch movies. Most fiction I've read I did so after seeing the film. I'd like to read more but that would get in the way of my movie watching. I'd really like to check out Gaston Leroux's novel of PHANTOM because I've got a sneaking suspicion it's a shit ton different than this Hammer production.

This version is very good except that it's far too short (85 minutes) and the ending is rushed and idiotic.


I LOVED that Lord d'Arcy in effect stole Petrie's music compositions and published them in his name. That was fucking cold as hell and, as a musician, I can further understand how painful that would be if it happened to me. When you compose, you're putting a piece of yourself on that page so having someone steal something you created out of thin air is pretty fucking low. It's for that reason alone that d'Arcy should have died at the hands of Petrie. He didn't deserve to breathe anyway since he was a raging asshole so It was very disappointing that he didn't snuff it. Not cool. I can only hope that he was exposed as a fraud and was publicly humiliated to the point of suicide.

The other big contention I have is with the abrupt ending. Petrie is watching the hugely successful premiere of his opera from a theatre box. As ends and Christine is taking her bows, Petrie sees that the giant chandelier is about to fall on her so he leaps to the stage, pushing her out of the way, sacrificing his life for hers. I realize that it's an accident but I needed more character development in order for that scene to have any emotional weight.


So my biggest bitch, I guess, is that this PHANTOM should've been longer. There was an awful lot of time killed in the last couple of reels with the opera performance, an unusual amount, and the movie is still only 85 minutes. Unless I missed something, the ten or so minutes of the opera wasn't what was important for the climax. On the contrary, it felt like filler.

Since it's a Hammer production, the acting is far better than most every horror film at the time, the sets are spectacular, the cinematography, music, etc are great. Most Hammer films ran less than or very close to 90 minutes and, for a lot of them, that's a nice, digestible length but not here. It's as if Emperor Joseph II was present during the editing. "There are too many frames. Just cut a few and it will be perfect." Idiots.

1 comment:

  1. Hi there Jim,

    The PotO novel goes as such: The focus is more on the mystery of who keeps doing weird things in the theater. Christine and Raul are both pains in the asses and static characters (I think this was supposed to be intentional?). Thankfully, they only take up about half of the novel. The Phantom is a little more interesting and diabolical, and the story is narrated by a detective who gets caught up with the backstage workers, specifically a Persian who has the Phantom pretty much figured out and lets him go about as he pleases.

    It's an okay novel. Kills a couple of hours.