Monday, June 15, 2009

The Phantom Of The Opera 1962 Review


The Phantom Of The Opera 1962
Director: Terence Fisher
Writer: Anthony Hinds
Starring Herbert Lom, Michael Gough, Heather Sears, Edward De Souza and Thorley Walters

The Phantom of the Opera is a s story that has been adapted countess times to film, and they all have met with varying degrees of success. I think Hammer Films production is the finest one next to the original Lon Chaney Sr. version. The story is very tightly woven, and the Phantom is shown in a very sympathetic light in this film, as the real evil is portrayed by Gough who stole his music and causes his deformity that makes him live in the shadows of the sewers. This is another classic Hammer film directed by Terence Fisher, who was the finest of all of the directors under this company. The film strays a bit from the original book, but still does it well enough that you can enjoy it. Some people may not like this opinion, but I for one am not a fan of the musical or the movie version that Joel Schumacher did a few years ago.
The plot basics are this, It is 18th Century France and Lord D'Arcy (Gough) is getting ready to unveil his opera when the lead actress is left with warnings and then as she sings a hanged body descends from the rafters. This causes them to look for a new leading lady and they audition many but one stands out Christine (Sears), D'Arcy becomes infatuated with her and invites her to dinner and propositions her that if she wants to be in his production she must sleep with him. Luckily, the producer, Harry (De Souza) shows up and rescues her. Soon, she is abducted by a grotesque figure wearing all black and a mask with one eye (Lom) and he forces her to learn how to sing and only for him. Harry figures out what happens and goes to find her and as he confronts the Phantom finds out that the music was his and was stolen by D'Arcy. This leads to the Opera being performed with the Phantom watching and leads to a tragic ending for the beleaguered Phantom.
This was another fine Hammer film. Great direction by Fisher, who has a great grasp on what works in a Gothic horror film. The writing by Hinds is great too, he has written many of the classic films and does another fine job here. His sympathetic characterization of the Phantom, really makes this film one of the best versions of the story. The actors are great, special props go to Lom and Gough, Lom is equally creepy and sad as the phantom and Gough is a sleaze ball of great magnitude throughout the film. Sears is great as Christine as well, you feel her terror as she is beaten down by the Phantom. The effects are good, only real gore you see is the Phantoms face at the end, which looks quite grotesque. The music is great too and that is one of the most important pieces of a Phantom film, the music needs to work, and it does so well here. For fans of gothic horror, this is a must see.
I give this one 5 out of 5.

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