THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (1925) B/W & C "silent" 101m dir: Rupert Julian
w/Lon Chaney, Mary Philbin, Norman Kerry, Arthur Edmund Carewe, Gibson Gowland, John Sainpolis
An overlong "silent" film that does, however, contain some effective moments (especially the celebrated unmasking scene) and a legendary performance by Chaney.
From Variety's contemporary review of the film: "It's reported the production cost approached $1 million, including over $50,000 for retakes, far above Universal's expectations. It's not a bad film from a technical viewpoint, but revolving around the terrifying of all inmates of the Grand Opera House in Paris by a criminally insane mind (Lon Chaney) behind a hideous face, the combination (from the novel by Gaston Leroux) makes a Welsh rarebit look foolish as a sleep destroyer.
"The love angle is in the person of an understudy (Mary Philbin) whom the Phantom cherishes while she is also the sole thought of her military lover (Norman Kerry).
"The girl is twice abducted by the Phantom to his cellar retreat, and the finish is built up by the pulling of levers, concealed buttons, etc., to make active secret doors, heat chambers, flooding passages and other appropriate devices. However, the kick of the picture is in the unmasking of the Phantom by the girl. It's a wallop.
"Kerry is a colorless hero, Philbin contents herself with being pretty and becoming terrorized at the Phantom, and Chaney is either behind a mask or grimacing through his fiendish makeup."