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 The Phantom of the Opera (1925-29)

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Castiel



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PostSubject: The Phantom of the Opera (1925-29)   Thu Oct 22, 2015 1:37 pm

So thoughts on one of the first major POTO adaptations?
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SylentPhantom
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PostSubject: Re: The Phantom of the Opera (1925-29)   Sat Oct 24, 2015 2:01 am

Most who know me well will know that it's my favorite movie adaptation, next to Robert Englund's and the second film I saw. I have a few issues with it however. Sadly the fact the movie board was so strict at the time forced them to reshoot and cut a lot out. The scene where Erik's puts Christine on the chaise and kisses the hem of her dress was almost removed because it was considered too racy and the time yet the scene where he lays her in bed was thought scandalous because only scandalous people had illicit sex on couches and married people did in beds >_<. Oh the good ol' 1920's.

One part that hit the cutting room floor that really makes me mad besides the obvious Perros Guirec sequence which sadly only that is left is one picture of a shadowy Lon playing the violin , is the unmasking section where Erik forces Christine's hand to rip his face and see if his real face is another mask. Remnants still exist of it in the 25 cut. But sadly far too much was cut including a very close ending to the novel. That was reshot many times over.




The film suffered from tension with Lon and Rupert, which is apparent in some photos. It was reportedly so bad that Lon refused to even speak to the man and had his friend the cameraman deliver messages back and forth. My main problem with the film is the oddness with Erik's backstory. As well as all the odd cuts and reshoots.

I fear if Lon were not the star of this film it would have not held up over time. He was a master at makeup and pantomime, bringing a sympathetic takes to, at the time a believed "monster". Which prompted the mob sequence in the final cuts.  The "Monster" had to be taken down and couldn't die with dignity. At least according to audiences and the film board at the time. It was not originally well received, which seems crazy by today's popularity and horrific impact.

Sadly I do not think a Leroux faithful movie would work in this day and age, for many reasons. The main one being it would try to make him "sexy" and not deformed as much as he should be. The current makeup that we see Lon in was the second version that we know of. He had first tried to just use grease makeup to make his face seem like a skull, but his wife said it didn't look real enough. It was then he went back and came up with the current look. Some rumors have gone around that Lon used hooks to pull his nose up, if this is at all true which is highly doubt, it was only used in preliminary. He actually used a substance called fish skin and spirit gum. I will let you Google what fish skin is on your own. I was able to achieve the same technique using surgical tape and spirit gum. As you can see same effect no hooks.

The reason this rumor even got started is becuase Lon didn't tell anyone his secretes so news papers of the day made up wild stories of how he accomplished something. Lon's friend however did leak how he managed it later after his death and how he did it is talked about in Michael F. Blake's books on Lon Chaney, if anyone is interested in learning about the real Lon Chaney. Lon Chaney also employed a technique where throughout the film Erik's face got worse and worse. He made the makeup get more scary to give a more maddening feel. Which is sadly is a little unknown fact that is almost lost due to the quality of the film then. He also kept what he looked like from poor Mary so when Christine rip's off Erik's mask that is a real reaction to Lon screaming and cursing in her face. It was reported that Lon scared her so bad he had to calm her down after the take. He was a true method actor and a trick that is both effective and still terrifying to this day. If you look closely you can even see poor terrified Mary lip "I will tell Mr Laemmle ."

It is undoubtedly the most well known version outside ALW's musical. And a true masterpiece despite all its shortcomings.
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