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Phantom of the Paradise
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In the 1974 film PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE, William Finley stars as Winslow Leach, a very talented composer who is working on a rock opera based on FAUST. Pop composer Paul Williams plays Swan, an aloof and mysterious record producer who has made the careers of many popular rock musicians. [For the youngsters reading this, a record is, like, an antique version of a music CD.] Swan has built the Paradise, a massive enclosed amphitheater that will be used to showcase the many bands and musicians under his auspices, but he wants to find new material and new talent for the extravagant gala he is planning for opening night. Enter Winslow--who wants Swan to consider his FAUST material for the Paradise grand-opening--and an attractive and talented young female singer named Phoenix (played by the cute Jessica Harper, here in her film debut). While waiting to audition for Swan, Winslow and Phoenix meet and...well, it's love at first sight. Unbeknownst to the two lovebirds, though, is their imminent appointment with destiny--and with the evil Swan. Swan indeed wants Winslow's music for the theater debut, but he wants to present it as his own work, and with knowledge of the feelings that the composer and singer have for each other, he uses Phoenix as leverage to manipulate Winslow like marionette.
So Swan steals Winslow's work, then arranges for Winslow to get arrested on a bogus drug-possession charge. In prison, Winslow learns of Swan's manipulation, which spurs him to escape and, soon after, to break into Swan's record factory and destroy the machines cranking out recordings of his stolen music. However, in a freak accident, Winslow's head gets caught in a hot record press and his face is thereby mutilated.Read more ›
It's hard to recommend this movie to someone. If they like the music, they may hate the horror elements, or visa versa. But if you're a child of the seventies, this will probably appeal to you.
First off: the music is excellent. It was written by Paul Williams, who also sings some of the songs. It was nominated for an Academy Award (it is also available on CD).
Next: If you like Brian Depalma, with his split screens, mood lighting and quick cuts, it's all here.
Also: Jessica Harper, in her film debut as the love interest, is great, and she does her own singing. Gerrit Graham is absolutely hysterical as "Beef" the glam rock KISS wannabe.
A truely strange film that will appeal to the more adventurous, but if you like a happy ending, you'll have to look elsewhere.
Composer Winslow Leach (played by DePalma regular William Finley) is a dedicated but naive artist who is ruined by his entanglement with a record producer known only as Swan (the impish Paul Williams). Swan steals his music, his would-be girlfriend (Jessica Harper), and eventually, his soul, in the Faustian developments that follow.
As dated and ham-handed as some of the material is (the 70's era slang, the costumes, the anti-establishment rhetoric), Phantom is curiously redeemed by its earnestness. In spite of what you may have heard, this film is NOT camp; it is SATIRE - the major difference (in my estimation) being that camp is self-kidding; it knows of its outrageousness and wallows in it. Satire is nearly the opposite: it adopts an external perspective, dissecting human behavior from on-high - as aliens from another planet might regard us in all our wondrous absurdity.
I approached this DVD with some trepidation. Having only seen Phantom of the Paradise once as an eight year-old in its theatrical release, I was left with an indelible impression. I missed the satire and remembered only the horrific surface elements (the disfigured anti-hero with his creepy electronic voice, the Dorian Gray-like climax, etc). But how would I see it through adult eyes? Would it hold up?
The answer, in a word, is yes.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A meticulous musical with music written by Paul Williams. I only first saw this movie last week, but it has already become one of my favorites. Read morePublished 22 days ago by The_Greenarrow
I should have bought this movie sooner. This is now my favorite film ever!!!Published 2 months ago by Jeremy Kronenwetter
Love this movie. There were only a couple of places in the world where people cared about this movie and my hometown of Winnipeg was one of them Saw this a child over and over :-)... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Colin
Love this movie. Saw it in the theater when I was a kid. Still awesome! Even better in blu ray.Published 2 months ago by Shuttupian
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