Phantom of the Opera (1943)

Phantom of the Operaphantom of the opera poster
Directed by Arthur Lubin
Written by Eric Taylor, Samuel Hoffenstein, and John Jacoby from the novel by Gaston Leroux
Universal Pictures
Repeat viewing/Netflix rental


Enrique Claudin: They’ve poisoned your mind against me. That’s why you’re afraid. Look at your lake, Christine. You’ll love it here when you get used to the dark. And you’ll love the dark, too. It’s friendly and peaceful. It brings rest and relief from pain. It’s right under the Opera. The music comes down and the darkness distills it, cleanses it of the suffering that made it. Then it’s all beauty. And life here is like a resurrection.

This film could have benefited from more phantom and less opera.

Erique Claudin (Claude Rains) is a violinist with the Paris Opera.  For years he has supported the singing lessons of soprano Christine DuBois (Susanna Foster) incognito. Arthritis has affected Claudin’s playing and he is fired.  He pins his hopes on a concerto he has spent years writing.  When he believes that has been stolen by a music publisher, he attacks the man and is stopped by a woman who throws acid in his face.  Disfigured and hunted by the police, Claudin, now clearly insane, takes refuge in the bowels of the Opera.  He continues to “support” Christine’s career by threatening horrible revenge against anyone that stands in its way.

In the meantime, the opera’s star baritone (Nelson Eddy) and an aristocratic policeman vie for Christine’s affections.   They may be wasting their time as Claudin definitely plans to have her as his own until the end of time.

phantom of the opera

This “horror” movie just isn’t scary.  Claude Rains is the best thing about it but, according to the commentary, he was largely responsible for the lack of thrills.  He was so concerned about his image and future prospects that he refused to be very disfigured or menacing. The few clear shots we get of his unmasked face were taken in secret.

If we forget that this is supposed to be a horror movie, it has its points.  The production values are splendid and the music is beautiful.  Rains has some truly touching moments.  I loved the resolution of the love triangle.

Phantom of the Opera won Academy Awards for Best Cinematography, Color (Hal Mohr) and Best Art Direction-Interior Decoration, Color.  It was nominated in the categories of Best Sound, Recording and Best Music, Scoring of a Musical Picture (Edward Ward).



2 thoughts on “Phantom of the Opera (1943)

  1. It certainly isn’t Lon Chaney but its not too bad. I adore Claude Rains, so he can do no wrong!!! It is beautifully shot and the sets are great. I would probably watch it again…..I think I have seen it twice already.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *