Phantom of the Opera (1943/2004)
PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (PG)
D: Arthur Lubin
Universal (George Waggner)
W: Erich Taylor & Samuel Hoffenstein [based on the novel by Gaston Leroux]
DP: Hal Mohr & W. Howard Greene
Ed: Russell Schoengarth
Mus: Edward Ward
PD: John B. Goodman & Alexander Golitzen
Cos: Vera West
Nelson Eddy (Anatole Garron), Susanna Foster (Christine DeBois), Claude Rains (Enrique Claudin), Edgar Barrier (Inspector Raoul de Chagny), Leo Carillo (Signor Feretti)
This elaborately expensive and luxuriantly produced version of Phantom Of The Opera is quite beautiful to look at, but doesn't capture the horror element of Gaston LaRoux's original novel, draining out the suspense, fear and mystery to its focus on music and (to a lesser extent) subtle comedy.
Still, considering the film was produced in 1943, the rich cinematography and production design has held up incredibly well over the decades.
Set at a Paris opera house, a once-successful violinist, deformed with acid and living as a phantom in the catacombs beneath the building becomes obsessed with a young soprano named Christine, and manipulates the events which occur above him to ensure her a successful career and create a romance between the two of them, but she has no knowledge of his existence.
Though the film boasts opulent sets, costumes and incredibly beautiful photography, the pacing does drag and there's no great payoff.
Universal Studios spared no expense bringing it to the screen, and though the plot would have been enough for 1940's audience, it's specifically this aspect of the film which fails to hold up to modern standards.