Customer Reviews


212 Reviews
5 star:
 (136)
4 star:
 (47)
3 star:
 (16)
2 star:
 (3)
1 star:
 (10)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favorable review
The most helpful critical review


298 of 312 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Review of 2011 Image/Blackhawk Blu-ray, 2003 Image/Milestone DVD
Customer Video Review     Length:: 1:34 Mins
*** UPDATED DEC-09-2012: ADDED REVIEW OF 2011 IMAGE/BLACKHAWK BLU-RAY EDITION ***

*** UPDATED DEC-09-2012: ADDED REVIEW OF 1997 IMAGE/BLACKHAWK DVD EDITION ***

*** ORIGINAL REVIEW POSTED SEPT-30-2003: 2003 IMAGE/MILESTONE 2-DISC DVD EDITION ***

I'm lumping my reviews together, just like what Amazon is doing! The...
Published on September 30, 2003 by keviny01

versus
123 of 130 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An extra "ghost" in box 5 on the Milestone 2-disc set
For starters, I agree with all the positive things said about this 2-disc set.
Unfortunately, there a couple of things about the discs that just spoiled the whole experience for me and may do so with you.
First, there is a "motion blur" or "ghosting" artifact that runs throughout the 1929/30 restoration. It looks similar to what a transfer...
Published on October 22, 2003 by Charles Phelps


‹ Previous | 1 222 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

298 of 312 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Review of 2011 Image/Blackhawk Blu-ray, 2003 Image/Milestone DVD, September 30, 2003
Length:: 1:34 Mins

*** UPDATED DEC-09-2012: ADDED REVIEW OF 2011 IMAGE/BLACKHAWK BLU-RAY EDITION ***

*** UPDATED DEC-09-2012: ADDED REVIEW OF 1997 IMAGE/BLACKHAWK DVD EDITION ***

*** ORIGINAL REVIEW POSTED SEPT-30-2003: 2003 IMAGE/MILESTONE 2-DISC DVD EDITION ***

I'm lumping my reviews together, just like what Amazon is doing! The above 3 video editions of the Lon Chaney silent classic will be covered in this review. Also, see my video clip at the top of this review to see disc covers, film clip comparisons, etc. (For those who can't see my video clip, especially iOS users who can't see flash video, I posted an external link to the video in the comment section, but you need to go to Amazon's FULL site to see the comment section.)

The 2011 Blu-ray edition of the 1925 Lon Chaney horror classic "The Phantom of the Opera" is produced by Blackhawk Films (owned by restorer David Shepard) and distributed by Image Entertainment. It has no corresponding DVD release. Blackhawk and Image also released the 1997 DVD edition, and this Blu-ray carries over some of its material.

The initial release of the Blu-ray on Nov 1, 2011 had several manufacturing defects, but a corrected edition was released soon after, and a disc replacement program was set up. Unfortunately, the replacement program was cancelled in December 2013. So if you buy used copies from third-party sellers, be sure to ask which version is being sold.

The disc packaging does not indicate which edition is the corrected one. The only way to identify it is to look at the menu screen. The corrected disc has a menu that shows more information about the disc's content, while the uncorrected one only shows the score composers' names. See my video clip above for what they look like.

The Blu-ray comes with 3 versions of the silent classic. Listed first in the menu, the "main" version, as it were, seems to be the 24-frame-per-second, 78-minute version that has the best picture quality of the 3 versions. Shown in 1080p high-definition, this is, needless to say, the best-looking version of the film ever. The Technicolor Bal Masque sequence is present as well, as is the re-created hand-tinted red cape of the Phantom at rooftop. 24 fps is, of course, usually the wrong speed for silent films, but it IS the right speed for the 1929 sound version of the film. And the print used for this Blu-ray (and, in fact, most video editions) happens to have come from the sound version, as indicated by the presence of actress Mary Fabian, a well-known soprano at the time who did her own singing for the sound version but DID NOT appear in the original silent version. Also, the 24-fps version includes a vintage score accompaniment by Gaylord Carter that was recorded in 1974 at 24-fps speed. Hence, the 24-fps presentation seems apt here. Besides the Carter score, a more modern-sounding score by the renowned Alloy Orchestra is also included.

A strange thing occurs during the early ballet sequence: the dancers seem to be moving in slow motion for a few seconds. My video clip above shows how it looks. It is present in the corrected Blu-ray release, sadly, as well as the uncorrected one. The 2003 Milestone DVD does not have this problem.

The 2nd version is presented at silent-film frame rate of 20 fps and runs 92-minute. Made from the same print that yielded the 24-fps version (slow-motion dancers and all), the 20-fps version is, however, shown in 1080i (interlaced) and curiously has a lot more print damages. How did the SAME print yield one version with few damages and another with lots of damages? According to the Blu-ray's producer, the non-standard frame rate of 20 fps made it impossible to present it in 1080p and to apply digital cleanup to eliminate print damages on the picture, as it was done for the 24-fps version. But for many people, 20fps is the proper speed for the silent version and they would probably wish that the 20-fps version is the cleaned-up version instead. The 20-fps version is accompanied by Gabriel Thibaudeau's orchestral score (which includes operatic singing), the same score used for the 1997 DVD edition from Blackhawk & Image. An informative full-length audio commentary track by composer and Lon Chaney expert Jon Mirsalis is also included.

The 3rd version is the original 1925 silent version. Well, not really. Original 35mm camera negatives of the silent version no longer survives. What survive are 16mm prints that were made for private collectors in the 1930s, the so-called "Show-at-Home" prints, one of which was used for this Blu-ray. Shown in 480i, the 16mm picture looks unsurprisingly bad, with murky details and print damages galore. It doesn't help that Blackhawk/Image chose to use tinting for this version, and the added colors, especially the darker ones, obscure details even more. The 2003 Milestone DVD, on the other hand, does not have tinting for the 1925 version, and it seems to look better as a result. The Blu-ray's 1925 version includes piano music accompaniment by Frederick Hodges.

The Blu-ray has other supplements as well. It carries over portion of the poorly-scanned still gallery from the 1997 DVD, while adding a few more high-quality scans. Stills that have captions on the 1997 DVD, have none on the Blu-ray. These stills, about 60 or so, comprise of set construction photos, behind-the-scenes photos, vintage movie posters and lobby cards, and hand-tinted screen captures of a surviving French print.

The film's shooting script and souvenir program are presented as slide-shows of still frames; words are smallish and hard to see even on my 50" screen. The script is shown as scans of typewritten pages; each page is only on the screen for a few seconds. If you pause the screen, the 1080i display may cause text to look slightly garbled due to the interlacing effect. That's 1080i by nature and that's why this kind of things are better shown in progressive 1080p. The script identifies itself as "the fifth revised shooting script circa 1924", and it contains, like typical shooting scripts, scenes not shown in the final movie, such as Christine and Raoul's wedding at a church.

This Blu-ray is NOT a descendant of the 2003 Milestone DVD, as Blackhawk and Milestone are two different entities. This Blu-ray is a descendant of the aforementioned 1997 Image/Blackhawk DVD. The 2003 Milestone DVD is rumored to be succeeded by a Blu-ray edition from Milestone, but no official announcement has been made yet.

*** BELOW IS MY REVIEW OF THE 2003 MILESTONE DVD EDITION FROM SEPT-30-2003 ***

Although marred by static direction and stilted acting, the 1925 silent film THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA is known primarily for the memorable contribution by Lon Chaney as an actor and makeup artist. His moving portrayal of the disfigured escaped convict who haunts Paris Opera House is perhaps the sole reason to watch this film. And his talent as a makeup artist helped create one of the most indelible images in film history: the skull-like head of the phantom that conveys sadness, anger, and horror at the same time. This Region-1-only 2-disc DVD set from The Milestone Company includes two versions of this classic film: the 1925 version that was premiered in New York, and the 1929 re-edited silent version that is most often seen today. The DVD also contains excellent supplements that give us a good overview of the film's rather remarkable history.

The rarely seen 1925 New York premiere version included on this DVD is untinted, runs 107 minutes, and was transferred from the only surviving 16mm reduction print. Its video quality is understandably poor; sharpness and clarity are never satisfactory, and blemishes abound. There are some notable differences between this version and the shorter, 93-min, 1929 re-edited version. In the 1925 version, actors are introduced via their own title cards. There is no "Carlotta's mother" character. Carlotta is played by Virginia Pearson in both the opera and the dramatic scenes. The chandelier sequence is edited more competently and thus played out a little more effectively. There are more scenes in Christine's dressing room, so adequate suspense is built up before she meets the phantom. There is also one crucial scene in a garden that explains why Christine is so enamored to the mysterious voice she hears. In my opinion, the 1925 version is the superior version; it seems more complete and satisfying narratively than the edited 1929 version.

The 1929 edited silent version included on this DVD was transferred from a restored, re-tinted print made by the renowned film restoration company Photoplay Productions. This is the best-looking version of PHANTOM to date. It also looks much sharper and cleaner than the 1997 Image DVD. Both DVDs offer the speed-corrected 1929 version, but the '97 Image DVD opens with a shot of a man holding a lantern walking past the camera, while the Milestone DVD, curiously, omits this so-called "lantern man" shot and opens at the opera house. On both DVDs, the "Bal Masque" scene is shown in two-strip Technicolor, with the color on the Milestone disc looking a little more realistic. Also, in order to duplicate the original film as much as possible, some of the color scenes on the Milestone disc were actually digitally colored (such as the phantom's red cape at the roof of the opera house), because there is no existing color footage for them. On the '97 Image DVD, no digital coloring was used.

There was a "talkie" version of PHANTOM made in 1929, but unfortunately the print of that version was lost. The dialogs and sound effects recorded for that version, however, survived. To give the viewer a taste of the sound version, the Milestone DVD offers something interesting to accompany the 1929 silent version: a soundtrack composed of fragments of existing recordings of the sound version pieced together to fit the silent version as much as possible. The result is still far from being a "talkie" track. It has plenty of sound effects and spoken dialogs, but it has almost no synchronized talking. Inter-titles are still present (because this is still the silent version). There is, however, one opera sequence where the singing of actress Mary Fabian (who did her own singing) is perfectly synchronized with the picture, which is a wonder to watch. The DVD also includes audio-only supplements of recorded dialogs, which give us further glimpses of the talkie version -- and of its rather incompetent voice acting.

Also accompanying the 1929 version is a superb audio commentary by PHANTOM expert Scott MacQueen. He provides a wealth of information about the production history, the backgrounds of the cast and crew, the various versions of the film, the use of color, and the use of sound. He deplores the incompetence of director Rupert Julian, and emphasizes that the true auteurs of the film were Chaney and set designer Ben Carré. He points out that contemporary reviews indicate that the 1925 version contains Technicolor sequences in not only the Bal Masque scene, but also the opera sequences and the auditorium scenes (the extensive use of color must have been quite a spectacle for a silent film back then). He recounts in great details (while speaking at a pretty fast pace) how the various versions of PHANTOM survived over the years -- the existing 1925 version originated from the so-called "Show-at-home" 16mm versions which Universal made for private collectors in the 1930s, while the surviving 1929 version was obtained by a Jim Card at Universal in the 1950s, and the Technicolor sequences was obtained from a 1930 dye transfer copy by restorationist David Shepherd.

To add even more value to an already superb package, the Milestone DVD also includes still-frame reconstructions of the Los Angeles and San Francisco premiere versions of PHANTOM. These were the very first public showings of the film. The Los Angeles version ended not with a chase scene as in later versions, but with the phantom dying alone at his piano.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


123 of 130 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An extra "ghost" in box 5 on the Milestone 2-disc set, October 22, 2003
By 
Charles Phelps (McKinney, TX United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
For starters, I agree with all the positive things said about this 2-disc set.
Unfortunately, there a couple of things about the discs that just spoiled the whole experience for me and may do so with you.
First, there is a "motion blur" or "ghosting" artifact that runs throughout the 1929/30 restoration. It looks similar to what a transfer from PAL video format to NTSC video format looks like only more exaggerated (images appear to be overlapped or double--sometimes triple--exposed). During the unmasking, Chaney's face is unnecessarily blurred, even when using freeze frame and stepping through the scene frame by frame.
Milestone has acknowledged the "ghosting", attributing it to adjusting the frame rate of the film during transfer from video master to video master. Incidentally, the original video master was in PAL format and was converted to NTSC for US, but Milestone claims PAL to NTSC was not the cause. Since they performed the additional restoration/picture cleaning on the overly "ghosted" transfer, it became a trade-off as to whether to present the cleaned up version or the "unghosted" version. Why such extensive restoration was done to a video master with excessive motion blur is beyond me.
For some folks, this will be a minor thing. For others, it will be very distracting and cast a dark cloud over what looks like to be the cleanest `print' of this movie in existence. I will be keeping the other Image DVD edition with the David Shepherd restoration.
Secondly, for the special features, the pause, fast forward, and reverse functions have been disabled. This can be a bit of a nuisance. For example, there is a 21 minute "restored version" of the films' original premiere utilizing stills and expository text. This I was excited about. However, unless you are a speed reader, you won't be able to read everything in one viewing. You can't pause it, or "rewind" to read what you missed. It is like trying to enjoy a book (both text and pictures) with someone else turning the pages for you. If you miss something, you have to start over from page one and go through again.
Again, some of you won't care about the motion blur one iota. Others will feel as I do: This disc should've been a contender but instead, it feels like a missed opportunity.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Phantom of the Opera Release is an Upgrade for Sure, November 1, 2011
By 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Phantom of the Opera (1925) (Silent) [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
***Update. Feb.4, 2012. I just received a replacement Blu-ray sent from Image and although the menu is easier to access-- for example the version listed as 20 fps Gabriel Thibaudeau score and the 1929 24 fps version with the Gaylord Carter score, etc. the menu is the only upgrade. The momentary "freeze" moments which is in the first release on the 20 fps version are, sadly, still there. From what I can tell, only the menus were made better, which is both good and bad. It is nice the menu is easier to access for people who buy this new version but sad that the 20 fps movie still has several moments where for a split second the image freezes. Why they left that the same I have no idea. Okay, back to my original review in early November:

I just finished watching one of three versions available on "The Phantom of the Opera" Blu-ray starring Lon Chaney and since then I have checked out the other two versions. First I watched the 20 fps (frames per second) version because I love Gabriel Thibaudeau's score. I was blown away by how sharp the picture looked. I definitely picked up on details I had not noticed before. When the Phantom is in the water, for instance, you can see just how wet the coat is when he climbs back out and details on his face as well. There is also no motion blur as there was on the Milestone release. The one quibble I do have is that there are a few instances in which the movie freezes for a second and then continues running. One place this happens is when Christine jumps up from the couch in the Phantom's cellar. There is a momentary freeze and then also when she wakes up in the morning. It wasn't in Image's DVD release but this appears to be a different print. I have read another writer's review about this problem and he made note of it too. He says the producer of the Blu-ray, David Shepard, is aware of a few of the issues and there apparently will be a second pressing of this Blu-ray with the issues corrected. That is good news. The Alloy Orchestra version, the 24 fps version, did not have the freeze moments. The image details makes this Blu-ray well worth owning. Also, you choose the three versions based on the score. I know that is odd but you choose the Thibaudeau listing on the menu for the 29 version, at 20 fps, and then you choose the Alloy Orchestra Score for the 24 fps 1929 version and you can choose the Gaylord Carter score instead if you wish as it pops up and gives you the choice. The Jon Mirsalis commentary is on the Thibaudeau version and is interesting. Finally, you can choose the 1925 Phantom version by choosing the Frederick Hodges score. Although this is a bit different way to choose, I did not find it complicated. The Bonus features include a Phantom Trailer and the Thibauddeau interview, which was interesting. Also included are reproduction program photos as well as the shooting script on screen. I understand Milestone will release a version next year which will include the Carla Laemle interview from their DVD release a few years ago and a few other items. In the meantime, I am fully happy I purchased this. The Phantom, believe me, has never looked better and again, there is no motion blur. This is a Sweet release. I highly recommend it if you love Chaney and/or the Phantom. One thing I should add is that you get the proper aspect ratio. If you have a widescreen TV it is displayed in a square fashion as the movie was originally presented. If you own the "Wizard of Oz" on Blu-ray, it is identical in the way it is presented. It is so cool to see the Phantom in HD! Purchase this one today. You will be glad you did.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


36 of 41 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars big screen objection, April 19, 2000
By 
tamas steiner (OTTAWA , CANADA) - See all my reviews
Warning to all purist. The DVD of the PHANTOM OF THE OPERA is not the triumph of preservation its advertised as being. First and most important to home theatre owners, the transfer is simply not in focus! Unlike in the movie theatre you cant ask the projetionist to refocus the image.. you are stuck with it. Secondly: if the "preservationists" found the best pre-print material in the 1929 synchronized re-edit as described on the liner notes, why in heavens name don't they present it as originally shown? Pretending that it is the silent version by replacing the soundtrack may be the loophole by which the film could be categorized as public domain but it is inherently dishonest to present it as an example of "film preservation". The original silent cut, the synch sound release and the present (refocused) remaster would be much more apreciated service to posterity. Look to other silent film transfers for guidence in image quality limits.If the box indicates that the contents are a "SPECIAL COLLECTOR'S EDITION" and advertises "PRIME..35mm QUALITY" one wishes it lived up to its promise. (DVD version)
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb restoration by Image, December 20, 2002
By 
James Quirk (Pennsylvania United States) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
There's a couple reviews on here that slam Image Entertainment for its DVD presentation of this Lon Chaney classic, particularly a harsh review entitled "I hate this Image DVD." I believe the reviewers who gave it a thumbs down must actually be the producers of inferior DVD/VHSeditions because the special collector's version I now own is spectacuar. Allow me to rebut the negative criticisms.1. I like the tints. Ths IS the way the movie was originally exhibited and it certainly enhances the film.2. The Thibaudoux score doesn't stop at all like some reviewers would make you believe. It is continuous throughtout the film and most deinitely increases the suspense. It's a wonderful composition and works great with the movie.3. One reviewer complained that the black bars on each side of the screen makes him feel like he's watching the movie through a saloon door. Not the case for me. After the first minute, I didn't even realize the bars were there. Just like when I watch a widescreen movie, the black bars in this case don't bother me at all. At least I know I'm seeing the complete image.4. The action flows smoothly and DOES NOT "ooze" aross the screen like molasses in January. I think they person who said that ought to stick with Keystone Kops flicks if that's what he or she is looking for.Overall, I enjoyed this DVD presentation of Phantom tremendously and highly recommend it. The Image version is, by far, the best on the market.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BLURAY TRIUMPH, October 27, 2011
By 
Paul Scott (CENTRAL COAST,, N.S.W. Australia) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Phantom of the Opera (1925) (Silent) [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
This Phantom of the Opera shows its age, to be sure, but it has held up surprisingly well. While co-stars Mary Philbin and Norman Kerry hardly set the screen on fire (as commentator Jon Mirsalis notes), an evocative and then-gargantuan production design, as well as Chaney's commanding performance more than make up for the lack of chemistry between the supposed romantic duo. What is so fascinating about this film is that Chaney is really not all that present and yet his presence looms over the entire film in a menacing way. For the first half hour or so, he's only seen sparingly, and then only in shadow or silhouette, making the iconic unmasking of him in the bowels beneath the Paris Opera all the more dramatic. Director Rupert Julian (aided by an uncredited Edward Sedwick and even Chaney himself for reshoots Laemmle ordered both for the 1925 and rejiggered 1929-30 versions) keeps things moving fairly briskly, though truth be told the original 1925 version can be a somewhat slow slog at times, despite its more coherent and cohesive storyline. The special effects are really quite convincing considering the age of the film, and Chaney's makeup certainly still retains its horrific nature and certainly is still easily one of the most disturbing transformations in the annals of film, silent or otherwise.

The Phantom of the Opera is presented on Blu-ray with an AVC codec. The 24fps 1929 version is offered in 1080p in a 1.2:1 aspect ratio. The 20fps 1929 version is presented in 1080i in a 1.2:1 aspect ratio. (I have emails and phone calls into various sources to find out if the interlaced presentation of this version is one of the technical issues with the first pressing of the BD which David Shepard has mentioned publicly). The 1925 version of the film is presented in 480p standard definition in an aspect ratio of 1.37:1. The press releases accompanying this release are a tad confusing. While there's no question that the 24fps 1929 version was sourced from a 35mm negative, some press releases make it seem like the 20fps version was sourced from either the same negative (which doesn't seem technically possible, frankly, considering the different frame rates) or another one, but there is no question that the 20fps version comes from a different, and decidedly inferior source element, than the 24fps version.The good news is that the 24fps 1929 version is going to be a minor (perhaps even a major) revelation to those who have grown up with inferior 16mm transfers of this film. The transfer is surprisingly damage free. The two strip Technicolor Bal Masque sequence looks great,with the reds popping magnificently. Several other sequences have been hand colored to recreate the original Handschiegl Color Process. The 24fps version offers superior clarity and sharpness, within reasonable expectations. The 20fps 1929 version is a rather major step downward in quality, at least in terms of damage. This version has considerably more wear and tear, with many more scratches, flecks and specks dotting the image with fair regularity. It still has some nicely sharp moments and those who prefer 20fps for their silents will most likely not be too disappointed. The 1925 version, in standard def and sourced from a 16mm print, is obviously the worst looking of the bunch. The image is often quite fuzzy and some of the inserts, as in the letters which are seen in close-up,are quite poor.
Recommended on Bluray.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Original 1925 Version., August 2, 2004
By 
Chip Kaufmann (Asheville, NC United States) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
The PHANTOM OF THE OPERA with Lon Chaney that most everyone knows is not the original version of the film. It is a 1929 reissue with several changes made to accomodate the addition of sound. Ironic that one of the most famous silent films of all time should be known from a sound version that lost its voice. New footage was shot, characters were changed and most important of all whole scenes were rearranged or eliminated altogether. This makes the storyline much harder to follow and interrupts the flow of the film when compared with the original which sticks much closer to Gaston Leroux's novella except for the rousing chase scene added at the end by the studio (shades of FATAL ATTRACTION!). Now thanks to Milestone/Image with this handsome 2 DVD set you can have both versions and make the comparison for yourself. As the 1929 film is discussed in much greater detail in several other reviews, I shall focus on the original 1925 version.

The biggest problem with it is that it hasn't been restored. Yet. There are reports that a restoration of it is underway along with Chaney's other famous Universal horror, THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME. The problem is that both of these films exist only in 16mm reductions made for the home market back in the 1920's. While the quality will never be that of the 1929 version which exists in 35mm, it is possible as in the case of MERRY-GO-ROUND (which was also directed by Rupert Julian and discussed by me in a review of that film) to significantly improve the picture quality. I shall look forward to that day as I much prefer the 1925 version not only for a clearer storyline and better motivated characters (Raoul and Christine have more depth and Inspector Ledoux of the Secret Police actually makes sense) but for its more expressive title cards and overall pace. While longer than the 1929 reissue it seems shorter due to the way it unfolds drawing the viewer in more. It is a true silent film rather than one reedited for sound.

Until the restored version of the original appears this one will have to do and rates 4 stars instead of 5. Here's a tip to maximize your viewing experience. Decrease the brightness mode on your TV along with the contrast as this reduces the overall stark quality by softening the image. In closing special thanks should be given to Jon C. Mirsalis for creating a fine score to accompany the 1925 version. While not as sumptuous as the Carl Davis score for the other, it does set the mood perfectly.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars LON CHANEY SHALL NOT DIE!, March 18, 2000
By 
Stewart Axelrad "sunbard" (San Antonio, Texas United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I must admit, having seen various incarnations of this classic on video, that I expected very little, vis-a-vis the DVD version. Boy, was I surprised! This is yet another triumph by Blackhawk Films. The image quality is superb, with color tintings that greatly enhance this seminal silent film. Lon Chaney is, of course, magnificent as the demented and malformed Phantom who haunts the Paris Opera House. His most well-known role (deservedly so, how DID he create that extra-ordinary make-up?) is a timeless one, as a man longing for love, but who can never obtain it. This version features a beautiful symphonic score by Gabriel Thibaudoux, and as far as silent films go, a very impressive one. A newly mastered version at the correct running speed of 20 frames per second, from the original 35 mm print. Trivial? Not if one wants to view this classic as it was meant to be seen. This version also features an essay by Michael Blake, Chaney expert, on the inside of the case. An altogether superior version, highly recommended by a Chaney fan of over 30 years.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Good Restoration, September 26, 2003
By 
E. Dolnack (Atlanta, GA USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
The IMAGE entertainment restoration of the 1929 "Phantom of the Opera" starring Lon Chaney is a bit hit. The two-disk set is definately the definitive choice to own by all serious collectors. The clarity is better than any version I've seen to date, and for the first time, the correct running speed has been instituted here. The tradeoff however, is that the motion is somewhat choppy from too few frames. The characters move in proper real-time, and for the first time, you can see naturalistic movement in such scenes as the opening ballet sequence.
True fans need look no further than this two-disk Masterpiece Collection set from IMAGE. This is definately the one to own! The film is tinted and comes in a selection of three seperate sound tracks to choose from: a terrific new orchestrated score, the original sound score from the 30s, and a voice-over commentary track, which is insightful.
The second disk contains the original 1925 film, which few people have ever seen today. The quality is poor, but there are many scenes that are different from the version that we're all familiar with. It's worth watching.
But you cannot beat the restoration of the 1929 version on disk one of this set. It isn't quite the job that KINO put into Fritz Lang's "Metropolis" last year, but is terrific nonetheless. Thank you IMAGE. Great DVD!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Will the Real Phantom of the Opera Please Stand Up?, January 17, 2005
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
At a moment when the film version of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical adaptation of The Phantom of the Opera is hitting the screen, some viewers may be interested in taking a look at the movie that started it all. Whether or not this DVD set put out by Milestone is really the "Ultimate Edition" Phantom of the Opera I do not claim to know, but it will certainly do until something better comes along. The set consists of a pair of DVDs that offer two versions of the picture. According to the commentary, the 1925 version only survives in a 16mm print held by the UCLA Film and Television Archive, and this is offered on the second disk.

However, after the arrival of sound, in 1929, Universal decided to put out an "improved" reissue of one of its biggest silent hits, with some new footage, and a synchronized music and effects track. Surprisingly, in spite of occasional, rather clumsily interpolated sections of asynchronous dialogue in which voices sometimes supplement the intertitles and sometimes repeat them, the reissue is mainly an improvement. And the Milestone set, by offering both the original release and the reissue, gives viewers a rare opportunity to compare the earlier and later versions of one of most famous American productions of the silent era.

Fortunately, a 35mm copy of the reissue, struck from a negative made in 1930 for the international market, was preserved by the late James Card, the curator of the Eastman House. It is this version, restored by Photoplay Productions, replete with the original tinting and enhanced by restored color sequences, which forms the pièce de résistance of this "Ultimate" Phantom of the Opera. The DVD even offers a pair of soundtracks-the original one from 1930 and a fancier stereo one, with music composed by Carl Davis and performed by the City of Prague Philharmonic. The picture quality of this version, effectively reproduced by the digital processing, will certainly come as a surprise to anyone who has only seen dupey, third or later generation copies of silent classics like The Phantom of the Opera. Especially worth looking at more than once is the sequence of the masked opera ball. With the color restored, this is clearly one of the high points in the early history of horror films.

It would be misleading to call The Phantom of the Opera a great motion picture. Universal was always a rather tacky studio, and the production values of the movie are inferior to those of pictures being made by MGM and Paramount, although some shots of Erik's subterranean realm have a genuine magic. Moreover, the performers are uniformly mediocre, with one spectacular exception. And Phantom of the Opera remains an impressive viewing experience today just because of that one exception: Lon Chaney's superb interpretation of the role of Erik, the phantom of the title. If Helen of Troy's was the face that launched a thousand ships, Lon Chaney's was the face that launched a hit movie, in addition to a couple of remakes, various Phantom wannabes, and, more recently, the Broadway hit.

The first Phantom was putatively directed by a hack named Rupert Julian, who is otherwise remembered for having finished up Merry Go Round after Universal fired Erich von Stroheim. As Scott MacQueen's excellent commentary to the 1929 reissue makes clear, however, Chaney-who could not stand Julian-must have had a considerable influence upon the finished movie. It is only an exercise in frustration to speculate what might have resulted had Chaney been able to collaborate with the gifted and sympathetic Tod Browning, who had just directed him in the perversely entertaining thriller The Unholy Three.

To present day spectators accustomed to scenes of carnage realistically depicted to the last drop of gore, Chaney's makeup will seem only modestly frightening, but that is hardly the point. Chaney invests his role with a carnal intensity screen performers rarely succeeded in doing after sound came in. A shot of his fingers suspended in midair, tentatively gesticulating before he touches the unwitting Christine carries just as much electricity as the famous moment when she undoes his mask and reveals his mutilated face.

More importantly, Chaney gives us a grandiose Romantic villain cut from the same cloth as Byron's Manfred or Charles Robert Maturin's Melmoth. Erik is a great artist and wounded soul-although the movie, unlike Gaston Leroux's 1910 novel, never gets around to explaining why-but also a diabolical madman, who thinks nothing of killing anyone who tries to stand in his way. In a monumental work, The Romantic Agony, Mario Praz showed how this typically Romantic figure filtered into popular literature during the nineteenth century, but Erik was anachronistic in 1910, and even more so in 1925.

The remake with Claude Rains in 1943 already depicted Erik more as a character to be pitied than feared, and the Webber super production turned Leroux's belated, but disturbing Romantic fable into a piece of super slush that might well be titled The Phantom of the Soap Opera. Chaney's genius was to be able to synthesize both sides of Erik's character: he does stir our pity-particularly when a street mob finishes him off at the end-but at the same time he frightens and even repels us. And Chaney stamped his personality on the role as much as Lugosi did on Count Dracula or Karloff on the Frankenstein monster.

This is one of the most outstanding DVD editions of a silent film classic I have ever seen; only some of the Criterion releases can touch it. Apart from the features already mentioned, the set also contains interviews, trailers, and a stills gallery. Now if only TCM would do something comparable for Flesh and the Devil, or Paramount for The Wedding March or The Last Command.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 222 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

Details

Phantom of the Opera (1925) (Silent) [Blu-ray]
Phantom of the Opera (1925) (Silent) [Blu-ray] by Rupert Julian (Blu-ray - 2011)
Out of stock
Add to wishlist See buying options
Search these reviews only
Send us feedback How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you? Let us know here.