This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
dadgumblah’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
Classic and best version of the Gaston Leroux novel about a spectral figure who lurks beneath the Paris Opera House, falling in love with the lovely singer Christine. He kidnaps her and takes her to his lair where he reveals his love for her and madly tells of his plan to "own" her forever. In one of the most famous scenes in the film, she sneakily removes his mask and is horrified by his gruesome face. This is but the first betrayal of the Phantom by Christine. He forbids her to see her love, Raoul and she promises to ditch him but again betrays Erik, the "Phantom" who haunts the Opera House. He plans his revenge.
The sets are fantastic and lush, even is black & white, and the scope is huge, even if the film is confined to the Opera House and its main surroundings. There is a breathtaking sequence in the middle of the movie, taking place at a masquerade ball at the Opera House, and it is in 2-strip Technicolor, with Erik appearing as death in a stunning red costume that bedazzles everyone.
Lon Chaney does some of his very best work here, of course providing his own makeup and doing a fantastic acting job as the mad, scarred in face and soul Phantom. Everyone else does fine jobs, especially Mary Philbin as the tormented Christine. Arthur Edmund Carewe is properly mysterious as a man who seems to know more about the Phantom than most.
This film is a wonder of cinema and one of the very best silent films, or even films in general, of all time. A must-see!