Phantom of the Opera (1943 film)

Phantom of the Opera (1943 film)

Infobox Film
name = Phantom of the Opera

caption = Theatrical poster to "Phantom of the Opera" (1943)
director = Arthur Lubin
writer = nowrap|Gaston Leroux (novel)
John Jacoby (adaptation)
Samuel Hoffenstein (screenplay)
Eric Taylor (screenplay)
Hans Jacoby (screenplay)
starring = Nelson Eddy
Susanna Foster
Claude Rains
Edgar Barrier
Leo Carrillo
Jane Farrar
J. Edward Bromberg
Fritz Feld
Hume Cronyn
producer = George Waggner
music = Edward Ward
cinematography = W. Howard Greene
Hal Mohr
distributor = Universal Pictures
editing = Russell F. Schoengarth
released = August 27, 1943
runtime = 92 min.
country = USA
language = English
budget = US$1.5 million
amg_id = 1:37950
imdb_id = 0036261

"Phantom of the Opera" is a 1943 Universal horror film starring Nelson Eddy, Susanna Foster and Claude Rains, directed by Arthur Lubin. The original music score was composed by Edward Ward. It was marketed with the tagline "The screen's classic of terror."

It was filmed on the same Universal soundstage as the studio's 1925 version of the story, in which a replica of the Opéra Garnier interior had been built (and exists to this day). Other than the sets, this "remake" had little in common with the earlier film. There was no attempt to film the masked ball sequence, although the famous falling of the chandelier was re-enacted on an epic scale, using elaborate camera set-ups. The cinematographers were Hal Mohr and W. Howard Greene.


Erique Claudin has been a violinist at the Paris Opera House for twenty years. Recently however, he has been getting pains in the fingers of his left hand, which affect his violin-playing. He is dismissed because of this, the owner of the opera house assuming that he has enough money to support himself with. This is not the case however, for Claudin has spent it all by anonymously funding the music lessons of Christine Dubois, a young soprano whom Christine's music teacher assumes Claudin has secretly fallen in love with. In a desperate attempt to gain money, Claudin tries to get a concerto he has written published. After submitting it and not hearing a response, he becomes worried and returns to the publishers, Pleyel & Desjardins, to ask about it. No one there knows what happened to it, and do not seem to care. Claudin persists, but Pleyel rudely tells him to leave and goes back to the etchings he was working on.

Finally giving up, Claudin stands there for a moment and hangs his head sadly. Someone begins to play music in the next room, and he looks up in shock when he hears it. It is his concerto that is merely being endorsed and praised by Franz Liszt. Convinced that Pleyel is trying to steal his concerto, Claudin leaps up and begins to strangle him. Just as he tosses the body of Pleyel to the floor, Georgette, the publisher's assistant, throws etching acid at Claudin. Screeching and wailing, he dashes out the door clutching his face. Now being hunted down by the police for murder, he hides in the sewers and makes his way to the Opera House.

Donning a mask to cover his now-disfigured face, he begins his reign of terror on those who stand in the way of Christine's success. Meanwhile, Inspector Raoul D’Aubert (Edgar Barrier) wants Christine to quit the Opera and marry him. But famed opera baritone Anatole Garron (Nelson Eddy) hopes to win Christine away from Raoul.

Now Christine is the understudy for the Opera’s female diva Mme. Biancarolli (Jane Farrar), who will do anything to stay in the limelight. But during a performance of the opera "Amore et Gloire", Biancarolli drinks a glass of wine and is drugged. The director then puts Christine on in her place and she dazzles the audience. Secretly unknown to Mme. Biancarolli, who suspects that Garron and Christine are guilty, Erique drugged Biancarolli’s wine in disguise.

When Biancarolli refuses to let Christine sing again, Erique enters her dressing room and kills her. After some time, D'Aubert comes up with a plan: not let Christine sing during a performance of the opera La Prince Masque du Caucasus and that Liszt will play the concerto after the performance. But Erique strangles one of D'Aubert's men and heads to the domed ceiling of the auditorium.

He then brings down the large chandelier on the audience and cause chaos to spread. As the audience and the crew flee, Erique takes Christine down to his lair, pursued by the police. He hears Liszt playing his concerto, and he plays along with it on his piano.

He urges Christine to sing, and as she does, the police get nearer to finding Claudin. Christine pulls off his mask and sees what has happened to Erique. At that moment, Raoul and Anatole break in, and fire at their 'Phantom'. The shot misses, and causes the entire lair to cave in, as the two men and Christine escape. Christine explains that she and Erique had come from the same town district and that she had somehow "always felt drawn to him." An earlier scene between Anatole and Christine's aunt, which was deleted before theatrical release, explained that Claudin was Christine's father and he had abandoned his wife and child to come to Paris "in search of his muse." Those familiar with the original novel, and the later Andrew Lloyd Webber musical recognize that Claudin was her father from the opening shot of him as a violinist. However, back at the Phantom's lair, one of the final scenes shows Erique's mask propped against his violin, accompanied by the sound of rocks shifting in the background, perhaps meaning that Erique survived, and left the opera behind him.


The film featured some of the most popular stars of its time, such as Nelson Eddy, Susanna Foster, Claude Rains, and Edgar Barrier.

Newcomer Susanna Foster plays Christine Dubois, a soprano at the Paris Opera House.

Nelson Eddy plays Anatole Garron, a baritone and instructor of the Paris Opera. He is one of Christine's two suitors, tossing wit and sarcasm at the rather starched Raoul D'Aubert, Christine's other suitor.

Broderick Crawford was considered for role of Claudin, the Phantom, before it was given to Rains. A subplot which made Rains's character Christine's father was jettisoned because it gave the romantic elements of their relationship incestuous overtones. [Scott McQueen, audio-commentary on "Phantom of the Opera" DVD (Universal)]

Edgar Barrier played Raoul, taking little more than the name from Gaston Leroux's original story.

Also of note in the cast were J. Edward Bromberg, Hume Cronyn and Fritz Leiber as composer Franz Liszt.

During the same year that the film was released, "Phantom of the Opera" was adapted into an audio presentation for the Lux Radio Theater. Nelson Eddy, Susanna Foster and Edgar Barrier reprised their roles, but instead of Claude Rains, Basil Rathbone played Erique Claudin.

The Phantom's disfigurment

In this version, Erique suffers a severe acid burn. The right side of his face is horribly burnt and scarred, the burnt skin has a color of bright purple, and his right eye red.


Edward Ward wrote the score. The film has many elements of a musical, with lengthy opera sequences, and has been criticized for being more musical than horrific. For the opera sequences, Ward adapted music from Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 4. He also composed an original theme, "Lullaby of the Bells", which was heard in the film as the Phantom's piano concerto.

Cancelled Sequel

Following the success of "Phantom of the Opera", Universal announced that a sequel would be made, titled "The Climax". [Scott McQueen, audio-commentary on "Phantom of the Opera" DVD (Universal)] Nelson Eddy and Susanna Foster were to return, along with Claude Rains as the Phantom, most likely meaning that his character did indeed survive the cave in at the finale of the first film. The sequel, however, was later cancelled due to story troubles and problems concerning the availability of Claude Rains. "The Climax" was indeed released the year after "Phantom of the Opera", but it was not a continuation of the previous film and featured completely new characters.

Notes and references

Other significant film versions

*"The Phantom of the Opera" (1925)
*"The Phantom of the Opera" (1962)
*"Phantom of the Paradise" (1974)
*"The Phantom of the Opera" (2004)

External links

*imdb title|id=0036261|title=Phantom of the Opera
*amg title|id=1:37950|title=Phantom of the Opera

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