Friday, February 28, 2020

Friday Night Frights- The Phantom Of The Opera

The Universal Monsters, a particular favorite group of mine and it's a fine Friday Night to take in one of the very best! The Phantom Of The Opera was released in 1925, 95 years ago this November! That's a long time, and like the long passage of time, there's a lot of history in this movie. For starters, the opera house. That set stood on Universal Studios grounds for 90 years before being torn down in 2014.

Bela Lugosi as Dracula filmed scenes here, as well as various scenes from The Bride of Frankenstein. Even the 1943 Phantom of the Opera remake by Universal was filmed on this set. That movie stared Claude Rains as The Phantom. Claude also appeared in other Universal Monster movies, Sir John Talbot in The Wolfman and Dr. Jack Griffin in The Invisible Man! Hey, you think there's a transparent inspiration for tonight's edition of Friday Night Frights? A ton of TV shows and movies were filmed on the set. So many that it's rumored to be haunted. A caped figure has been seen in the catwalks leading to speculation of Lon Chaney haunting the set of his most famous movie.

What's really interesting about this movie is, well, it just doesn't exist anymore. Nope. The version you're watching above or on video perhaps is a cobbled together reconstruction. It's a close appropriation of the original film made by editing together clips from various editions of the movie. It's a silent movie, but you'll notice around minute mark 1:00 in the above clip the guy holding the lamp is clearly talking to the audience. That scene is likely from one of the sound versions of the movie stuck in sans audio.

Weird huh?

The movie is public domain and chances are you've seen it sitting in a discount movie bin from time to time. My aunt saw a copy of it in one of those and I still have that VHS tape to this day. I wonder just how much of the original movie is on that tape that I watched countless times growing up?

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