On September 6th, 1925 Universal Pictures released the feature film The Phantom of the Opera based on the novel Le Fantôme de l'opéra by Gaston Leroux.

The Phantom of the Opera 1925 title.

This is the complete source site for the classic black & white movie starring Lon Chaney, Mary Philbin & Norman Kerry. Extensive use of photographs from the film and merchandise you will find nowhere else make this a Phantom fan's must.


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The Making of the 1925 Movie The Phantom of the Opera

The Phantom Decends the Staircase Wearing the Mask of the Red Death. Source: Oscars.org


Touted as being The greatest horror film of modern cinema!, The Phantom of the Opera 1925 is definitively a cinematic classic. The tale of making the movie is just as classic, with numerous directors involved, repeated re-shoots, added and deleted scenes, two previews  and a pre-premiere before what is now considered the official release date. The numerous versions of this movie make it confusing to follow its history in the cinema. This article simplifies the order of events with what is now known.

In the beginning... there was the building of the famous Paris Opera House on Universal's Stage 28.Interior of the Paris Opera House from the 1925 production of The Phantom of the Opera. A major undertaking of steel and concrete. A structure that has lasted down to our day.

The script went through numerous versions as did the movie itself (explained below.) You'll enjoy reading the fifth revision of The Phantom of the Opera 1925 screenplay as it looked around October/November 1924. I've inserted pictures from the final film which makes it more enjoyable to read.

Shooting began October 29th, 1924.

A series of directors were used including Lon Chaney himself, though not credited.

Lon Chaney's self applied makeup was a cinema secret.Source: SilentsAreGolden.com The "Man of a Thousand Faces" created his most memorable and enduring character, The Phantom of the Opera, in the confines of his dressing room. Various eyewitness reports mention wire hooks or bobby pins, grease paint, tape, wax and more in creating his character.

Chief cinematographer Charles Van Enger, A.S.C. said that the chandelier scene was done with stop motion to keep the cast below safe. There is at least one article on the Internet that says it was done in reverse, pulling the chandelier upward, then developed backward in the lab. Van Enger's description is found in the great book The Phantom of the Opera (Hollywood Archives Series) (v. 1) by Philip J. Riley and so I am inclined to go with that explanation.

There were scenes that were originally filmed in the two-color Technicolor process. Two of these were the masquerade ball (or Bal Masque) and the scene where the Phantom is on the rooftop. In this scene his cloak was hand-painted in crimson. The only print that remains of that scene is now in black and white.

The Mask of the Red Death. Quick Phantom Facts:

MOVIE INFORMATION

Movie Title: The Phantom of the Opera
Release Date:
Versions and their release dates:

L.A. Preview: Jan. 7, 26, 1925
S.F. Premiere:
Apr. 26, 1925
N.Y. Premiere: Sep. 6, 1925
Hollywood Premiere: Oct. 17, 1925
General Release: Nov. 15, 1925
Sound Reissue: Dec. 15, 1929
International Version: 1930

Visual: Black & White/Color (Technicolor two-strip color process sequence. Color-tinted and color-toned)
Audio: Silent (except for Sound Reissue)
Other: 10 Reels, 9,200 feet
Genre: Horror

Studio: Universal Pictures Corporation
Producer: Carl Laemmle
Director(s): Rupert Julian, Edward Sedgwick, Lon Chane
y (Uncredited)
Adaptation and Scenario: Elliot J. Clawson and Raymond L. Schrock. Based on the novel Le Fantôme de l’Opéra (The Phantom of the Opera) by Gaston Leroux

Art Direction: E.E. Sheeley and Sidney Ullman
Set Design: Ben Carré
Set Construction Supervision: Archie Hall
Assistant Director: Robert Ross
Cinematography: Virgil Miller, with additional photography by Milton Bridenbecker and Charles van Enger
Technicolor Photography Technician: Howard Estabrook
Intertitles: Tom Reed and Walter Anthony
Editor: Maurice Pivar

Cast: Lon Chaney (Erik, the Phantom), Mary Philbin (Christine Daaé), Norman Kerry (Vicomte Raoul de Chagny), Arthur Edmund Carewe (Inspector Ledoux), Gibson Gowland (Simon Buquet), John Sainpolis (Comte Philippe de Chagny), Snitz Edwards (Florine Papillon), Virginia Pearson (Carlotta), Bruce Covington (M. Moncharmin, bearded Paris Opera owner), George B. Williams (M. Ricard, moustached Paris Opera owner), Bernard Siegel (Joseph Buquet), Cesare Gravina (former Paris Opera owner), William Humphrey (moustached former Paris Opera owner), Edith Yorke (Mama Valerius), Anton Vaverka (prompter), Olive Ann Alcorn (La Sorelli, a dancer), John Miljan (Valentin), Edward Cecil (singer portraying Faust), Alexander Bevani (singer portraying Mephistopheles), Grace Marvin (singer portraying Martha), Madame Fiorenza (the attendant at Box Five), William Tyroler (orchestra conductor), Rebecca Laemmle (Carla Laemmle) (prima ballerina), Ed Wolff (mob extra), Mary Fabian (Carlotta (1929 version)), Fay Holderness (Carlotta’s mother (1929 version)), Edward Martindel (Philippe de Chagny (1929 version)), Ward Crane (Count Ruboff (edited from final release)), Chester Conklin (orderly (edited from final release))

Watch The Phantom of the Opera 1925 (1929 reissue version)

Purchase The Phantom of the Opera on DVD or VHS

Some Information gathered from SilentEra.com

The movie was previewed on January 7th and 26th, 1925 in Los Angeles, California. After poor reaction from the public the director, Rupert Julian, was told to re-shoot the movie. He thereafter walked out. The producer Carl Laemmle then brought in director Edward Sedgwick and new scenes were added. On April 26th, 1925 the new version of the movie was shown at the Curran Theatre in San Francisco, California. This was referred to as the World Premiere. It still was not satisfactory. Scenes were added and others scrapped. It was then finally shown at the Astor TheatreClick here for larger image. in New York, New York on September 6th, 1925, and the following month in Hollywood, California on October 17th. Its general release was on November 15th, 1925. Reviews say that some moviegoers fainted during the Phantom's unmasking scene.

A reissue brought significant changes. Universal released this new version of their $2,000,000 grossing silent horror film on December 15th, 1929. Nearly half of that version was re-shot, this time with sound using the Western Electric Vitaphone sound-on-disk sound system. That version opened with a man in the catacombsIn the dark catacombs a man with a lantern gives the prologue in The Phantom of the Opera, 1925. below the opera house holding a lantern and giving a prologue. It hasn't been determined what the man is saying in this scene. The soundtrack has since been lost and the man with the lantern is now mute. On page 11 of Philip Riley's book (mentioned above) he says that what we have now "is actually a silent version of a 1929 dubbed sound reissue, which is missing at least 35 minutes of development scenes, opera scenes, titles, and some of the best atmospheric photography and set designs in motion picture history." With this release another million dollars was grossed by Universal. 1930 brought an international version also with significant changes in editing and titles.

As is the case today, merchandising and advertising was very important to the success of The Phantom of the Opera in 1925. Products were either created for or created around the buzz. Ad campaigns would be devised by manufacturers in order to have their products get carried along with that success. Universal went to great lengths to promote the movie. Source: SilentsAreGolden.com One example: The Hammond Lumber Company in Los Angeles delivered the wood used in building the replica of the opera house. Coming to and from the construction site the trucks displayed a sign stating "The Largest Shipment of Lumber for the Upcoming Production of Phantom of the Opera". There were posters and ads in magazines.Click Here to See The Saturday Evening Post Advertisement From 1925 Cross-promoting The Phantom of the Opera and Black and Decker Tools A Phantom of the Opera souvenir booklet exists out there somewhere. There was a stereoscopic photo set, "Phantom Red" milk shake's. Saks - Fifth Avenue promoted "Phantom Red Velvet Evening Pump" shoes. There were the products cross-promoting themselves with the movie, such as the Black and Decker Advertisement you see here. A new edition of The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux was published which included photos from the motion picture. The list is too long to write it all here. And is it just a coincidence that Rolls-Royce changed the name of their Silver Ghost automobile to the Phantom in 1925?

 

 

 

The Story Behind The Phantom of the Opera

Gaston Leroux, Author of The Phantom of the Opera. Source: Wikipedia.org

The Phantom of the Opera 1925 movie was based on a novel that had been out for about 15 years, being published in 1910. That novel was Le Fantome de l'opera by Gaston Leroux.

The story is a dark one. At the Paris Opera a demented figure lurks in the shadows. He takes his place in box 5 and peers down upon the crowd.The Phantom Peers Down From Box 5 in a Scene From The Phantom of the Opera 1925 His young student Christine Daae is singing tonight. All part of his master plan to have the young lady he loves famous in Paris. He has frightened the prima donna Carlotta into bowing out of the lead of playing Marguerite in Faust. How? By various letters sent from the mysterious Opera Ghost, signing them The Phantom. Opera Ghost aside, the Paris Opera House was, and is, a real place. And this is the location that Gaston Leroux based his novel.

The Mask of the Red Death. Quick Phantom Facts:

BOOK INFORMATION

Book Title: Le Fantome de l'opera (The Phantom of the Opera)
Author: Gaston Leroux
Published: 1910
Genre:
Novel

Read the Novel

Book and Audio Editions:

Get the Audio Book

View Book Editions and More Here

Other than the Phantom, the main characters in the story include Christine Daae and Raoul.

One of the most memorable parts in the book are the events surrounding the masquerade. Phantom enthusiasts and those who have never seen the 1925 movie are familiar with Lon Chaney, wearing the mask of the Red Death descending the staircase at the Phantom of the Opera masquerade ball.

There have been many retellings of The Phantom of the Opera on stage and screen, but no one tells the story better than Gaston Leroux. Phantom of the Opera is still a great seller, moving many copies every year from bookstore shelves.

You can go to the Temescal Valley Public Library Web site if you'd like to read the novel The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux online.

 

 
The People Behind the The Phantom of the Opera 1925

Source: LonChaney.com

Lon Chaney Sr., not to be confused with his son Lon Chaney Jr., starred in such horror classics as The Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Phantom of the Opera and London After Midnight.

Mary Philbin. Source: SilentsAreGolden.com

The Mask of the Red Death. Quick Phantom Facts:

PRINCIPLE PLAYERS

Works of Major Players

Lon Chaney:Lon Chaney Sr. Click here for a larger view. Source: SilentsAreGolden.com
1913: Poor Jake's Demise, The Sea Urchin, The Blood Red Tape of Charity, The Trap, Almost an Actress, An Elephant on His Hands, Back to Life, Red Margaret, Moonshiner, Bloodhounds of the North, Shon The Piper, Restless Spirit

1914: The Lie, The Honor of the Mounted, Remember Mary Magdelen, Discord and Harmony, The Menace to Carlotta, The Embezzler, The Lamb, the Woman, the Wolf, The End of the Feud, The Tragedy of Whispering Creek, The Unlawful Trade, The Forbidden Room, The Old Cobbler, The Hopes of Blind Alley, A Ranch Romance , Her Grave Mistake, By the Sun's Rays, The Oubliette, A Miner's Romance, Her Bounty, The Higher Law, Richelieu, The Pipes of Pan, Virtue Its Own Reward, Her Life Story, Lights and Shadows, The Lion, the Lamb, and the Man, A Night of Thrills, Her Escape

1915: The Sin of Olga Brandt, Star of the Sea, The Small Town Girl, The Measure of a Man, The Threads of Fate, When the Gods Played a Badger Game, Such is Life, Where the Forest Ends, Outside the Gates, All for Peggy, The Desert Breed, Maid of the Mist, The Grind, The Girl of the Night, The Stool Pigeon, For Cash, An Idyll of the Hills, The Stronger Mind, The Oyster Dredger, Steady Company, The Violin Maker, The Trust, Bound on the Wheel, Mountain Justice, Quits, The Chimney's Secret, The Pine's Revenge, The Fascination of the Fleur de Lis, Alas and Alack, A Mother's Atonement, Lon of Lone Mountain, The Millionaire Paupers, Under a Shadow, Father and the Boys, Stronger Than Death

1916: Dolly's Scoop, The Grip of Jealousy, Tangled Hearts, The Gilded Spider, Bobbie of the Ballet, The Grasp of Greed, The Mark of Cain, If My Country Should Call, Felix on the Job, The Place Beyond the Winds, Accusing Evidence, The Price of Silence

1917: The Piper's Price, Hell Morgan's Girl, The Mask of Love, The Girl in the Checkered Coat, The Flashlight, A Doll's House, Fires of Rebellion, The Rescue, Pay Me, Triumph, The Empty Gun, Anything Once, The Scarlet Car

1918: The Grand Passion, Broadway Love The Kaiser, the Beast of Berlin; Fast Company, A Broadway Scandal, Riddle Gawn That Devil Bateese, The Talk of the Town, Danger--Go Slow

1919: The Wicked Darling, The False Faces, A Man's Country, Paid in Advance, The Miracle Man, When Bearcat Went Dry, Victory

1920: Daredevil Jack, Treasure Island, The Gift Supreme, Nomads of the North, The Penalty

1921: Outside the Law, For Those We Love, Bits of Life, Ace of Hearts

1922: The Trap, Voices of the City, Flesh and Blood, The Light in the Dark, Oliver Twist, Shadows, Quincy Adams Sawyer, A Blind Bargain

1923: All the Brothers Were Valiant, While Paris Sleeps, The Shock, The Hunchback of Notre Dame

1924: The Next Comer, He Who Gets Slapped

1925: The Monster , The Unholy Three, The Phantom of the Opera, The Tower of Lies

1926: The Blackbird, The Road to Mandalay, Tell It to the Marines

1927: Mr. Wu, The Unknown, Mockery, London After Midnight

1928: The Big City, Laugh, Clown, Laugh, While the City Sleeps, West of Zanzibar

1929: Where East is East, Thunder; The Phantom of the Opera (Reissue with new sound scenes)

1930: The Unholy Three


Mary Philbin:
Mary Philbin. Click here for a larger image.
Norman Kerry:

Some Information gathered from: LonChaney.com





 
The Endurance of the 1925 Movie The Phantom of the Opera

In the dark catacombs a man with a lantern gives the prologue in The Phantom of the Opera, 1925.

Gaston Leroux created iconic characters and scenes that will not soon be forgotten, such as the Phantom of the Opera, Christine Daae, the masquerade from Phantom of the Opera, the prima donna Carlotta and the Red Death.

Click here for a larger picture of the 1998 Universal Studios action figure release.There have been plenty of movie related products available over the decades using these scenes and characters. There is plenty of merchandise from the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical version, but how about the 1925 movie version? What products are available? Where can you get them? There's plenty for fans on this page with links to cool products - posters and prints, inexpensive action figures and world-class top-dollar ceramic figurines. Picture books and T-shirts, DVDs, VHS tapes, the soundtrack on CD - there's an abundance for the collector and the casual fan. Let's look at a few of them.

The Mask of the Red Death. Quick Phantom Facts:

MERCHANDISE INFORMATION
Click on a Link for a Description of the Product

DVD & VHS
  

Click here to see a larger image of the DVD cover. Name: The Phantom of the Opera - The Ultimate Edition (1925 Original Version and 1929 Restored Version)
Type: DVD
 
Click here to see a larger image of the VHS cover. Name: The Phantom of the Opera (Silent Classics) VHS
Type: VHS
 
Name: The Phantom of the Opera Available Films List
Type: DVD & VHS
 

Audio CDs
 

Name:  The Phantom of the Opera Available Soundtracks List
Type: Music CDs
 
Name:  The Phantom Of The Opera [UNABRIDGED] CD Set
Type: Audio Book on CD
  
Click here for a larger view of the cover. Name: The Phantom of the Opera: Audio Book on Cassette
Type: Audio Book on Cassette

Books
 

Name: Phantom of the Opera: The Original Shooting Script
Type:
Collectible Book
 
Name:  The Phantom of the Opera (Thrift Edition)
Type:
Paperback Thrift Book
 

Prints, Posters & Photos
 
 

12 Different Phantom of the Opera 1925 Posters & Prints Buy Phantom of the Opera posters and prints at Art.com
Type: Posters & Prints
 
Great Posters Here
Great Posters Here
More Great Posters From MovieGoods.com
Type: Posters
 
The Phantom of the Opera 1925 Large Poster Name: The Phantom of the Opera 1925 Large Poster
Type:
Poster
 

Toys & Collectibles
 

Silver Screen Edition Phantom of the Opera

T-shirts
 

The Phantom of the Opera 1925 Ringer T-shirt The Phantom of the Opera 1925 Ringer T-shirt
 
The Phantom of the Opera 1925 Ash Grey T-Shirt The Phantom of the Opera 1925 Ash Grey T-Shirt
 

Costumes
 

Phantom of the Opera Cape Deluxe Phantom of the Opera Cape Deluxe
 
Deluxe Phantom of the Opera Mask Deluxe Phantom of the Opera Mask
 

Other Merchandise
 

The Phantom of the Opera 1925 Large Mug The Phantom of the Opera 1925 Large Mug
 
The Phantom of the Opera 1925 Mug The Phantom of the Opera 1925 Mug
 
The Phantom of the Opera 1925 Stein The Phantom of the Opera 1925 Stein
The Phantom of the Opera 1925 Mousepad The Phantom of the Opera 1925 Mousepad
 
The Phantom of the Opera 1925 Black Cap The Phantom of the Opera 1925 Black Cap
 
The Phantom of the Opera 1925 Messenger Bag The Phantom of the Opera 1925 Messenger Bag
 
The Phantom of the Opera 1925 Postcards (Set of 8) The Phantom of the Opera 1925 Postcards (Set of 8)
 

 

To begin with, how about the movie itself? For fans or curious passers-by who want to watch it, The Paris Opera House Theatre airs the program 24 hours a day.

If you don't mind waiting a few days for shipping and you'd rather watch the film on your TV or big screen, there are many DVD and VHS versions available. If you decide to purchase one, by all means get The Phantom of the Opera - The Ultimate Edition (1925 Original Version and 1929 Restored Version). This one includes the original 1925 version as well as the restored 1929 version, the original Vitaphone soundtrack, an image gallery featuring deleted scenes from the San Francisco and Los Angeles premieres, trailers from 1925 and 1930 and so much more.

The original movie was promoted with posters.Movie poster from the original 1925 film. Those posters have been reproduced by many different companies and are still hot sellers after all these years. You can Buy Phantom of the Opera posters and prints at Art.com or find More Great Posters From MovieGoods.com.

The Phantom of the Opera (Hollywood Archives Series) (v. 1) by Philip J. Riley
But maybe you're the type that likes to look at the books related to the movie. Full of rare photos and behind the scenes info? Maybe even a copy of the script or press book included? It exists. Phantom of the Opera: The Original Shooting Script has all of these and more. It's the perfect companion to the Ultimate Edition DVD, no doubt about it. This book has 320 pages and over 250 rare photos. The preface is written by Ray Bradbury with a forward by Mary Philbin. The introduction is by Ron Chaney, great-grandson of Lon Chaney Sr.

The Phantom of the Opera: The Original Novel in paperback can be found for hardly nothing and is an engrossing story that, like all good movies, is deeper and richer than the filmed version.

Or, let's say you just don't have the time to read a paperback. The perfect thing for you would be an audio book. Something you can listen to on that long drive to and from work. Get the audio book With 10 hours on 7 CDs unabridged will make your long commute bearable.

The Opera Phantom Gift Shop has a few products that I think you will find unique. They are images taken from the movie and put on different things like postcards, mugs and hats.A letter from the Phantom to the prima donna Carlotta. A postcard from the collection of merchandise at the Opera Phantom Gift Shop.

Sideshow Collectibles even makes true-to-the-movie collectible statues of Lon Chaney as The Phantom of the Opera. It's even painted in black and white to match the mood of the 1925 movie. You may need to get on a waiting list for one though as they sell out very quickly. The banner below has a link to their Web site.

Image from The Clubhouse Modeling Community. Click here for a larger picture.Hand painting your own Phantom models even has its own following, as this link to The Clubhouse Modeling Community shows.

I told you there were still great products for The Phantom of the Opera 1925.

In conclusion: Whether or not The Phantom of the Opera 1925 is the greatest Phantom movie ever is subjective. One thing is certain though: Its enduring popularity proves that no other version comes close to the original Lon Chaney Phantom of the Opera from 1925.

 

 

The Mask of the Red Death: Click here to go to The Phantom of the Opera 1925 home page.

Written by Larry Hunt

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