The Phantom of the Opera (1925)

107 mins | Horror | 15 November 1925

Full page view
HISTORY

Universal Pictures sent wardrobe “expert” Charles Le Clerc to France and Germany to “search out and buy up” costumes that had been used in Charles Gounod’s opera, Faust, in the 1890s, in order to ensure authenticity “to the last detail” in the upcoming The Phantom of the Opera, the 11 Oct 1924 Moving Picture World reported. The article announced that the film was slated to be Universal’s “master production of the year 1925.” The studio was already building the opera house’s “catacombs and caves” at the Universal City, CA, lot, “on what is said to be the largest set of scenes in the industry,” according to the 18 Oct 1924 Moving Picture World. Studio press releases stressed that the art director and set designer were working from “architectural plans of the Paris Opera House” and rare volumes of illustrations of opera productions obtained from the University of Berlin in Germany, in order to build an ornate replica, which it called “the first steel and concrete picture set in history.”
       The 12 Jul 1924 Moving Picture World announced that production of The Phantom of the Opera “is now being started in the Universal City studios.” However, “camera work” was not scheduled to begin until the first week of Sep, the 30 Aug 1924 Exhibitors Trade Review noted.
       According to the 22 Nov 1924 Moving Picture World, filming of the “grand opera scenes” would begin within a few days. More than 3,000 extras were scheduled to appear in the “Opera Ball” scene, including 200 on the stage. The news item, probably taken from ... More Less

Universal Pictures sent wardrobe “expert” Charles Le Clerc to France and Germany to “search out and buy up” costumes that had been used in Charles Gounod’s opera, Faust, in the 1890s, in order to ensure authenticity “to the last detail” in the upcoming The Phantom of the Opera, the 11 Oct 1924 Moving Picture World reported. The article announced that the film was slated to be Universal’s “master production of the year 1925.” The studio was already building the opera house’s “catacombs and caves” at the Universal City, CA, lot, “on what is said to be the largest set of scenes in the industry,” according to the 18 Oct 1924 Moving Picture World. Studio press releases stressed that the art director and set designer were working from “architectural plans of the Paris Opera House” and rare volumes of illustrations of opera productions obtained from the University of Berlin in Germany, in order to build an ornate replica, which it called “the first steel and concrete picture set in history.”
       The 12 Jul 1924 Moving Picture World announced that production of The Phantom of the Opera “is now being started in the Universal City studios.” However, “camera work” was not scheduled to begin until the first week of Sep, the 30 Aug 1924 Exhibitors Trade Review noted.
       According to the 22 Nov 1924 Moving Picture World, filming of the “grand opera scenes” would begin within a few days. More than 3,000 extras were scheduled to appear in the “Opera Ball” scene, including 200 on the stage. The news item, probably taken from a Universal press release, described the set as follows: “The interior of the Opera House, its boxes, auditorium, stage, promenades, foyer and grand staircase are housed in a huge steel and concrete structure. A complete grand opera orchestra, and an entire cast for the opera Faust will be employed on stage and in the pit, with an audience watching.” Many of the scenes in the catacombs and cellars beneath the Paris Opera House had already been filmed, the item stated.
       Director Rupert Julian “this week completed the last bit of camera-work,” the 7 Feb 1925 Exhibitors Trade Review reported, and was now going to supervise Universal’s “pick of sub-title writers,” who were going to “work in shifts for several weeks.”
       The premiere was held 6 Sep 1925, a Sunday, at the Astor Theatre in New York City, attended by a “capacity audience,” including representatives of Great Britain, France, and Spain, the 19 Sep 1925 Motion Picture News reported. Eugene Conte, who composed the film’s theme based on Charles Gounod’s music from Faust, conducted the orchestra. Ballerina Albertina Rasch staged a dance number, and Thurston, a famous magician, provided the “appearance” of a “phantom.”
       A re-cut sound and partly-Technicolor version of The Phantom of the Opera was reissued on 15 Dec 1929, with newly filmed, fully synchronized scenes from Faust. Actress Mary Fabian, who sang an aria, replaced Virginia Pearson as “Carlotta,” and Pearson’s scenes were re-edited and re-titled to transform her into “Carlotta’s mother.” (The new cast list ran at the beginning of this 1929 version with Pearson credited as Carlotta’s mother, but the original cast list ran at the end of the film, with Pearson as Carlotta and Mary Fabian not listed at all.) John Sainpolis, who portrayed “Comte Philip de Chagny,” was replaced by an uncredited Edward Martindel. A scene between “Raoul” and “Christine” in a cemetery at Viroflay, France, was deleted. The “Bal Masque” scene was reshot in Technicolor. This new version of Phantom of the Opera, at one hour and thirty-four minutes in length, was roughly twelve minutes shorter than the original. Universal advertising proclaimed the 1929 film’s “Music, Dialog, Technicolor, Sound,” but critics were unimpressed. However, according to the 15 Feb 1930 Exhibitors Herald-World, “In all the situations where the picture has played, it has either smashed box office records or has played to turn-away business.” One man who did not like the new version was Lon Chaney, who was “pouting at Universal with each of his thousand faces” because he felt the actor who dubbed his character “takes the novelty off my voice.” (Chaney was in the last stages of throat cancer and could not provide his own voice.) He told the New York Telegraph he was suing Universal for $70,000, the 15 Mar 1930 Motion Picture News reported.
       Surviving still photographs from the production suggest that an alternate ending, in which “the Phantom” died at the organ, was either filmed or contemplated.
       In 1943, Universal used the 1925 film set to produce a new version of the story, titled Phantom of the Opera (see entry), starring Claude Rains. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Exhibitors Herald-World
15 Feb 1930
p. 18.
Exhibitors Trade Review
30 Aug 1924
p. 31.
Exhibitors Trade Review
7 Feb 1925
p. 22.
Exhibitors Trade Review
21 Sep 1925
p. 47.
Film Daily
13 Sep 1925.
---
Film Daily
16 Feb 1930
p. 8.
Motion Picture News
17 Sep 1925
p. 1250.
Motion Picture News
19 Sep 1925
p. 1356.
Motion Picture News
15 Mar 1930
p. 35.
Moving Picture World
12 Jul 1924
p. 130.
Moving Picture World
11 Oct 1924
p. 476.
Moving Picture World
18 Oct 1924
p. 611.
Moving Picture World
22 Nov 1924
p. 349.
Moving Picture World
7 Feb 1925
p. 605.
Moving Picture World
19 Sep 1925
p. 256.
New York Times
7 Sep 1925
p. 15.
New York Times
10 Feb 1930
p. 20.
Variety
9 Sep 1925
p. 35.
Variety
12 Feb 1930
p. 14.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
Carl Leammle Presents
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Addl dir
Asst to Mr. Julian
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Prod supv
WRITERS
Titles
Incidental comedy
PHOTOGRAPHY
Addl photog
Addl photog
Addl photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
Asst art dir
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Set des
DANCE
Ballet master
PRODUCTION MISC
Tech dir
SOURCES
LITERARY
From the celebrated novel Le fantome de l'Opéra by Gaston Leroux (Paris, 1910).
AUTHOR
DETAILS
Release Date:
15 November 1925
Premiere Information:
New York premiere: 6 September 1925
Production Date:
September 1924 - January 1925
1929
Copyright Claimant:
Universal Pictures Corp.
Copyright Date:
1 August 1925
Copyright Number:
LP21689
Physical Properties:
Sound
1929 re-edited version only
Silent
Si, with talking seq added (1929 version only)
Black & white with color sequences
Technicolor (1929 version only)
Duration(in mins):
107
Length(in feet):
8,464 , 8,382
Length(in reels):
10
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Christine Daaé, an understudy at the Grand Opera House in late nineteenth-century Paris, France, is guided to stardom by a mysterious and compelling male voice that emanates from behind the wall of her dressing room. Though she believes he is the “Spirit of Music,” a fantasy she has had since childhood, the man is actually the apparition everyone in the cavernous opera building calls “the Phantom,” who reportedly lives in ancient underground cellars and haunts the performances. When the voice eventually summons Christine to a meeting, she discovers a sinister, masked man named Erik Claudin. He demands that Christine give up her fiancé and childhood friend, Vicomte Raoul de Chagny, and devote herself solely to opera. Christine agrees, and Erik arranges for her to replace prima donna Carlotta in the role of “Marguerite,” in Faust. During the opera house’s annual “Bal Masque de l’Opera,” Erik attends dressed as the “Red Death,” and discovers that Christine has returned to Raoul. He kidnaps her to his underground chambers. As he woos her by playing his own composition, “Don Juan Triumphant,” on a large pipe organ, Christine slips behind him and removes the mask, revealing his hideously scarred face. Raoul de Chagny and Ledoux, an officer of the secret police, search the caverns for Christine, but a trap door drops them into a dungeon. An angry mob descends into the Phantom’s realm, forcing him to flee. As Raoul and Ledoux escape and rescue Christine, the mob chases Erik into the Seine River. ... +


Christine Daaé, an understudy at the Grand Opera House in late nineteenth-century Paris, France, is guided to stardom by a mysterious and compelling male voice that emanates from behind the wall of her dressing room. Though she believes he is the “Spirit of Music,” a fantasy she has had since childhood, the man is actually the apparition everyone in the cavernous opera building calls “the Phantom,” who reportedly lives in ancient underground cellars and haunts the performances. When the voice eventually summons Christine to a meeting, she discovers a sinister, masked man named Erik Claudin. He demands that Christine give up her fiancé and childhood friend, Vicomte Raoul de Chagny, and devote herself solely to opera. Christine agrees, and Erik arranges for her to replace prima donna Carlotta in the role of “Marguerite,” in Faust. During the opera house’s annual “Bal Masque de l’Opera,” Erik attends dressed as the “Red Death,” and discovers that Christine has returned to Raoul. He kidnaps her to his underground chambers. As he woos her by playing his own composition, “Don Juan Triumphant,” on a large pipe organ, Christine slips behind him and removes the mask, revealing his hideously scarred face. Raoul de Chagny and Ledoux, an officer of the secret police, search the caverns for Christine, but a trap door drops them into a dungeon. An angry mob descends into the Phantom’s realm, forcing him to flee. As Raoul and Ledoux escape and rescue Christine, the mob chases Erik into the Seine River. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

TOP SEARCHES

CASABLANCA

During World War II, Casablanca, Morocco is a waiting point for throngs of desperate refugees fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe. Exit visas, which are necessary to leave the country, are at ... >>

CITIZEN KANE

Seventy-year-old newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane dies in his palatial Florida home, Xanadu, after uttering the single word “Rosebud.” While watching a newsreel summarizing the years during which Kane ... >>

REAR WINDOW

Laid up with a broken leg during the height of summer, renowned New York magazine photographer L. B. “Jeff” Jeffries enters his last week of home confinement, bored and ... >>

RAGING BULL

In 1941, at a boxing match in Cleveland, Ohio, pandemonium breaks out when Jake La Motta, an up-and-coming young boxer, loses a decision to Jimmy Reeves, suffering his first ... >>

CITY LIGHTS

At an outdoor dedication ceremony, a tramp is discovered sleeping in the arms of a statue as it is being unveiled before a crowd. He is chased into ... >>

The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.