The Phantom of the Opera (1962)

THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (1962)
Article 2207 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 4-1-2007
Posting Date: 8-28-2007
Directed by Terence Fisher
Featuring Herbert Lom, Heather Sears, Thorley Walters

Mysterious setbacks have plagued the presentation of an opera about Joan of Arc. The cause of these setbacks has to do with a mysterious phantom who terrorizes those involved in the production.

Though I had little hope that this version of the Gaston Leroux novel would eclipse the wonderful Lon Chaney version of the story, I did have hopes that I would like it better than the 1943 Claude Rains remake , which has always disappointed me somewhat. I did enjoy parts of this one well enough; Terence Fisher’s direction is solid, the movie is efficient, and the movie is anchored by an excellent performance from Herbert Lom as the most sympathetic phantom I’ve seen yet; he’s even allowed to be heroic on occasion. This compensates somewhat for a weak and clumsy script. At times it’s emotionally unsatisfying; the comeuppance of the Michael Gough’s evil Lord d’Arcy is singularly unsatisfying, and the movie leaves an insane dwarf on the loose at the ending. The mystery aspect of the movie (who is the phantom and why is he doing this) is also fairly weak, especially if you’ve seen the Claude Rains version, and it’s a dramatic mistake to recreate certain scenes after the movie has already sufficiently explained them. And there’s a huge logic error in the chandelier sequence; given that the rope frays because of the extra weight caused by the dwarf hanging on it, shouldn’t it fray above the dwarf rather than below? Incidentally, the cast also features Michael Ripper as a cabbie, and a memorable cameo from Patrick Troughton as a ratcatcher.

 

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