Gaston Leroux, the author of THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, stated in his novel that the Phantom actually existed and was not a fabrication of his imagination. Many executives at Universal Studios probably would have agreed with the author, as they felt their cinematic version of the novel had been "cursed" by the Phantom himself. In retrospect, given the numerous dilemmas which befell the production from the very beginning, it is amazing that the film was ever released, let alone to be considered as one of the classics of silent cinema.
Regarded by many as the first great horror film, and certainly the best of the silent era, the earliest version of THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA stars Lon Chaney, the man of a thousand faces. Chaney is Erik, the horribly disfigured Phantom who leads a menacing existence in the catacombs and dungeons beneath the Paris Opera. When Erik falls in love with a beautiful prima donna, he kidnaps her and holds her hostage in his lair, where he is destined to have a showdown with her fiance and the secret police. When the movie was first released, it shocked audiences across the world, and many weak hearted patrons fainted at the sight of Chaney's hideous make-up.
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA stands as an awesome monument to the Golden Age of Hollywood.
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