1943 – The Phantom of the Opera

1943 – The Phantom of the Opera

1943 The Phantom of the Opera by Arthur Lubin

Cast
Anatole Garron
– Nelson Eddy
Christine DuBois – Susanna Foster
Erique Claudin – Claude Rains
Raoul Daubert – Edgar Barrier
Signor Ferretti – Leo Carrillo
Biancarolli – Jane Farrar
Director – Arthur Lubin
Screenplay – Eric Taylor and Samuel Hoffenstein
Adaptation – John [Hans] Jacoby
Novel – Gaston Leroux
Producer – George Waggner
Music – Edward Ward (also Musical Director)
Orchestration – Arthur Schutt and Harold Zweifel
Choral Director – William Tyroler
Staging of opera sequences – Lester Horton and William von Wymetal

Music and Operas Staged/Performed

“Lullaby of the Bells”
Written by Edward Ward
Lyrics by George Waggner

Martha by Friedrich von Flotow (Act III excerpt)
Libretto translated by William von Wymetal

Amour et Gloire (uncredited)
Adapted by Edward Ward from themes by Frédéric Chopin
Lyrics by George Waggner, translated (into French) by William von Wymetal

Le Prince Masqué du Caucasus (uncredited)
Adapted by Edward Ward (from Tchaikovsky’s 4th Symphony)
Libretto by George Waggner, translated (into French) by William von Wymetal

This adaptation opens with a production of Flotow’s opera Martha, featuring Anatole (Nelson Eddy) in full song. Anatole and Raoul (Edgar Barrier), a police inspector, vie for the attention of Christine (Susannah Foster). An elderly violinist, Enrique Claudin (Claude Rains), also appears to be in love with her. Alas he can no longer play at the level required, and is dismissed from the orchestra. We soon realise that he has been funding Chirstine’s singing lessons with Signor Ferretti secretly; she believes he teaches her gratis due to her great promise.

Without an income, Claudin is no longer able to support Christine’s continued instruction. He has recently completed work on a piano concerto, however, for which he hopes to receive an advance from the music publishers Pleyel and Desjardins. When Claudin visits the publishers, Pleyel leaves him to wait. Claudin becomes frustrated, and barges in to see him, but his concerto is nowhere to be found. At that very moment, he hears his music drifting in through the walls. A young staff member has asked Franz Liszt to look it over, because he hopes to persuade Pleyel to publish it. Claudin believes Pleyel has stolen his music, however. In a fit of pique he strangles the publisher, whose assistant throws engraving acid into the composer’s face. He escapes in agony and crawls into a sewer to hide from the police.

Claudin begins to speak to Christine (unseen) in her dressing room: he will help her to become a great singer. Claudin poisons the diva Biancarolli during a performance so that Christine must step in to fill her shoes. When Claudin/the Phantom later threatens Biancarolli in her dressing room, she refuses to leave Paris and attempts to remove his mask. Claudin murders both Biancarolli and her dresser. The opera is closed.

The Phantom demands that the Opéra be re-opened for Christine to sing. Anatole and Raoul decide they can lure the Phantom into the open if the Opéra does not deliver on this demand. When Claudin realises Christine will not appear in the diva role, he cuts the chandelier loose from above the audience. In the chaos that follows, Claudin (in disguise), lures Christine to the world below the stage. Anatole has a plan, however: Liszt has been brought to the opera to play Claudin’s concerto, and thus lure the Phantom into the open. He hears his music on the stage above, and begins to play along. Claudin demands that Christine sing too: does she recognise the lullaby? As she sings she moves closer and suddenly rips of the mask, revealing the Phantom’s identity. Anatole and Raoul locate the pair by following the music. Warning shots are fired and the area caves in; Christine, Anatole and Raoul escape, but Claudin does not (or so we are led to believe).

The film closes at an unspecified later date, showing that Christine has become a sensation. In a return to the film’s opening, Anatole and Raoul once again vie for her attention, asking her to decide once and for all. Christine is drawn to her adoring fans instead; the men to go to supper together without her.

 

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