Reviews and Analysis: Page 3 of 4

Review of the Claude Rains Phantom of the Opera – What was Universal thinking when it made this turkey?

A version of this review originally appeared on Amazon dot com's site.

Universal Studios' 1943 Phantom of the Opera, starring Nelson Eddy, Susanna Foster, and Claude Rains, is an absolutely horrendous rendition of the story that we "phans" have come to know and love. The background music and opera music are far too light to fit in a thriller. Furthermore, the comedic love triangle (Christine, Raoul, and a baritone named Anatole, who sounds more like a tenor) occupies much of the movie. While entertaining, that subplot takes away from the original story as written by Gaston Leroux.

It is possible that 48-year-old Erique Claudin, who has a pre-existing obsession with Christine, would go mad over the theft of his concerto. However, it seems impossible for the nebbishy violinist to suddenly develop the physical agility necessary to function as the Phantom, especially because we know that one of his hands has gone numb. Also, the story reveals Erique's obsession by revealing that he has gone broke paying for Christine's singing lessons, which violates rule number one of storytelling: Show – don't tell. A far better way to introduce the obsession would be to show him paying the instructor after Christine's lesson.

The set, costumes, and singing are extraordinary, but the costumes do not fit with the late Victorian era. They seem to fit in the 1930's, but the candles in the chandelier imply that the story takes place much earlier. Either the chandelier or the costumes belong to the wrong era.

The only moment that is worthy of being called a horror movie or thriller is Erique's escorting an unwilling Christine to his underground lair, and telling her how happy they'll be together. Even the chandelier sequence falls flat, pun intended. Some versions of the story emphasize romance over horror, but there is no romance to place this story on the romantic side of the Phantom spectrum.

Don't waste your time with this weird, dreadful movie. If you want horror, stick with Lon Chaney or Robert Englund. If you want romance, try Charles Dance or Gerard Butler or the 25th anniversary video. Here, you get Archie Bunker and Meathead, with Raoul and Anatole trying to fit through a door at the same time.

I'd say two thumbs down, but it's really at least four or five thumbs down for this stinker.