Synopsis: A violinist at the Paris Opera House has spent all his savings anonymously supporting a young singer he has grown affectionate toward. When he is unexpectedly dismissed, he attempts to earn money by publishing his own concerto but a misunderstanding results in a fight that leaves him deformed by acid. Wanted by the police, he steals a mask and hides in the opera house while still secretly helping the young woman.
Movie Review: Phantom of the Opera (1943)
A review of the 1943 movie starring Claude Rains and Susanna Foster
This is a movie I watched with my daughter some time ago because she is falling in love with classic horror movies and this is a film that is sometimes forgotten when compared to other black and white horror films like “Dracula,” “The Wolf Man” and “Frankenstein.” My original intention was to have her watch the silent Lon Chaney version of this movie. But, knowing she doesn’t really care for silent films, I opted to watch this one with her instead.
Even though I think Chaney made a creepier phantom, Claude Rains does an outstanding job playing that role in this particular version. The thing that really impressed me about him is, even though there were a lot of reasons to feel sympathy for him, his character honestly wasn't all that likeable. He murdered people, whether they deserved it or not. Plus, his obsession with a woman half his age was actually a little creepy. In other words, it was pretty obvious he was a bad guy, or at very least, he was capable of doing bad things and needed to be stopped.
My biggest complaint about this movie was the fact it did tend to drag out some of the scenes, in particular, the scenes that involved song and dance numbers. While there is an obvious need to remind viewers this takes place at an opera house, there really was nothing stopping the filmmakers from cutting those scenes a little shorter. After all, it's not like this movie was a musical.
I also think the movie could have done a better job explaining his obsession over Christine (Foster). Was he romantically in love with her? Or, did he love her more like a daughter and why? The movie was OK without that explanation. However, I think that information would have made it slightly better overall.
The musical scenes seem a bit long and I felt like there were a few things that just weren't explained properly. However, in part because of Rains' performance, this movie was definitely worth taking the time to watch with my daughter and I do recommend it.
My Grade: B
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