Phantom of the Opera (1943)

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Released 3-Oct-2002

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror Featurette-The Opera Ghost- A Phantom Unmasked
Audio Commentary-Scott MacQueen (Film Historian)
Gallery-Production Photographs
Theatrical Trailer
Menu Audio
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1943
Running Time 88:52
RSDL / Flipper RSDL Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Arthur Lubin
Studio
Distributor

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Claude Rains
Susanna Foster
Nelson Eddy
Case Amaray-Opaque-Dual-Secure Clip
RPI $19.95 Music None Given


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
Arabic
Greek
Turkish
Czech
Hungarian
Romanian
English Audio Commentary
Arabic Audio Commentary
Greek Audio Commentary
Turkish Audio Commentary
Czech Audio Commentary
Hungarian Audio Commentary
Romanian Audio Commentary
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    This 1943 version of the dark romantic mystery The Phantom of the Opera is my favourite film version of this timeless tale.

    Written by Gaston Leroux, The Phantom of the Opera was first published in France in 1910. Understandably, Mills and Boon published an English version the following year. While being a best-seller, the novel was heavily criticised for being “too populist”. The plot is built around a long-standing rumour at the Grand Paris Opera House of the existence of a phantom who attended performances by taking up residence in Box 5 of the opera house. In the novel, Viscount Raoul de Chagny visits a young chorus girl, Christine, after her debut performance as a stand-in. Romance ensues between them, but panic grips the greedy management as letters arrive from the Opera Ghost demanding that his box be left vacant. The management ignore the letters, and Christine is kidnapped at a fancy dress party. Heroic Raoul enters the dark depths of the Paris Opera House to search for her.

    If you have seen Andrew Lloyd Webber’s marvellous musical, this story will be very familiar to you. The novel of course also lends itself to film, and there have been a number of film versions. In this version, a Paris Opera House violinist, Erique Claudin (Claude Rains) is fired. This sparks a chain of unhappy events. Desperate for money, Claudin takes his music composition to a publisher for consideration. Through a tragic misunderstanding, Claudin thinks his work is being stolen and he kills a man in a fit of rage. During the fight, acid is thrown over Claudin, and he is horribly disfigured. Claudin makes his escape from the law through the sewers of Paris and into the catacombs underneath the Paris Opera House. Meanwhile, the object of Claudin’s affection, a young chorus girl - Christine DuBois (Susanna Foster) - is being courted by two amorous suitors, the Inspector Raoul Daubert (Edgar Barrier), and the Opera’s baritone, Antole Garron (Nelson Eddy). After some startling events, these two men compete to win Christine’s affection by each trying to capture the Phantom that is now stalking the Paris Opera House and Christine.

    While often being no more than slow-paced 1940s melodrama, this movie is still very enjoyable. It is also in keeping with Universal’s other early horror movies, such as Frankenstein, The Creature From The Black Lagoon, The Wolf Man, The Mummy, and Dracula. Universal’s classic horror movie themes of genius versus madness, the beauty and the beast, unrequited love, and the tragic reign of terror being ended, are all here.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video quality is excellent for its age.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, which is very, very close to its original aspect ratio. (The opening credits are letter-boxed, but the black bars are extremely thin.)

    The sharpness of the image is good, although it is often purposely soft, as was the style of 1940s movies. For example, consider the close-up of the face at 10:50. The shadow detail is mostly reasonable, but poor in the darker scenes, such as at 16:25.

    This was Universal's second Technicolor film using the three-strip process. The colour has aged a little, and appears slightly darker than it should be.

    There are no problems with MPEG artefacts. Film-to-video artefacts appear in the form of aliasing, such as the shimmer on the uniform at 7:43 and the piano at 18:31. Slight telecine wobble is discernible, most noticeably during the opening and closing credits. Film artefacts appear throughout, but they are mostly small. Considering the age of the movie, this is a remarkably clean print.

    14 sets of subtitles are present on the DVD, and the English subtitles are accurate.

    This is an RSDL disc, and I suspect the layer change is placed between the movie and the extras.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The audio is pretty flat, as one would expect with a movie of this vintage.

    There are two Dolby Digital 2.0 (mono) audio tracks on this DVD: the movie's soundtrack, and an audio commentary.

    The dialogue quality and audio sync are acceptable.

    The musical score is credited to Edward Ward, and it is your typical 1940s melodramatic orchestral score, peppered with some opera-related source music.

    There is no surround presence nor subwoofer activity.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    Considering the age of the movie, I wasn't expecting any extras, so those included are a real bonus.

Menu

    A very simple menu, presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio.

The Opera Ghost, A Phantom Unmasked (51:17)

    Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio, film historian Scot McQueen discusses some of the various film versions of the story. There are also a number of interviews with original cast and crew members.

Audio Commentary

    Film historian Scot McQueen provides a well-researched and informative commentary. He has cleverly included some quotes from a few of the key people involved with the film's production.

Production Photos

    Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio, this is a gallery of stills and posters.

Theatrical Trailer (2:12)

    Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio, this appears to be the movie's original trailer.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Phantom of the Opera (1943) has been released on DVD in Region 1.

    The Region 4 DVD misses out on:

    The Region 1 DVD misses out on:

    Unless you're more comfortable hearing the movie dubbed into French, the two versions are even. I would favour the local release for its affordability, and most importantly, its superior PAL image.

Summary

    The Phantom of the Opera (1943) is a classic re-telling of the legend of the French opera-loving ghost. With surprisingly good video and audio (considering the age of the movie) it is a real treat to enjoy this classic Universal horror melodrama again.

    The video quality is good for its age.

    The audio quality is also is good for its age.

    The extras are genuine and add to one's enjoyment of the movie.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Brandon Robert Vogt (warning: bio hazard)
Tuesday, December 31, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-535, using S-Video output
DisplayGrundig Elegance 82-2101 (82cm, 16x9). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationSony STR DE-545
SpeakersSony SS-V315 x5; Sony SA-WMS315 subwoofer

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Question about lyrics - AAA