A silent adaptation of Gaston Leroux’s famous novel in which Erik, a deformed musician living in the cellars of the Paris Opera House, causes murder and mayhem in an attempt to force the management to make the woman he loves a star.
Coming to the U.S. at the age of 34, New Zealand-born Rupert Julian started his career as a stage and screen actor touring Australia and New Zealand. Having made his name (and a cool million for Universal) as a dead ringer for Kaiser Wilhelm II in the 1918 film The Kaiser, the Beast of Berlin (1918), he turned director.
His output was mostly routine until he was assigned to complete Merry-Go-Round (1923) when director Erich von Stroheim was fired from it. His best known picture was Lon Chaney’s The Phantom of the Opera (1925) (though he in turn was fired and replaced before filming was completed), but he soon fell into a professional decline, and after directing only two films after the advent of sound, his career fizzled out. —Octuor de France
The son of actors Edward Sedgwick Sr. and Josephine Walker, Edward Sedgwick made his own show business entree as one of the Five Sedgwicks, a circus and vaudeville acrobatic act. Two of the “other” Sedgwicks were Edward’s twin sisters Eileen and Josie, who later pursued successful silent-movie acting careers. In 1915, Sedgwick broke into films as a comedian, frequently cast as a zany baseball player. He became a serial director in 1921, then moved on to the Tom Mix western unit. Sedgwick’s lifelong love of baseball came in handy as he helmed the ballpark sequences of Mix’s Stepping Out (1923), Buck Jones’ Hit and Run (1924), William Haines Slide, Kelly, Slide (1927), Buster Keatons The Cameraman (1928) and the 1934 mystery Death on the Diamond. While at MGM in the late 1920s, Sedgwick found a kindred spirit in fellow baseball buff Buster Keaton. At Keaton’s insistence, Sedgwick directed all of Keatons silent and sound MGM features, including the aforementioned The Cameraman. Spite Marriage… read more
Even after 65 years, the phrase “Man of a Thousand Faces” brings to mind only one name: Lon Chaney Sr. The son of deaf-mute parents, he learned at an early age to rely on pantomime as a communication skill. The stagestruck Chaney worked in a variety of backstage positions at the opera house in his hometown of Colorado Springs; he was eventually allowed to appear on stage, and, before his 17th birthday, was on tour with a play he’d co-written with his brother. Sensitive about his youth and plain features, Chaney hid behind elaborate makeup when appearing on-stage. Forced into single parenthood after divorcing his first wife Cleva Creighton (the mother of his son Creighton, Lon Chaney Jr.), Chaney had to find a more steady source of income than the theater. He began picking up extra work at Universal Studios in 1912, making himself valuable — and ultimately indispensable — with his expertise with character makeup. He rose from featured player to star at Universal between 1913 and 1920… read more
A horror classic that due to the magnificient performance by Lon Chaney stands the test of time. Makeup effects are still extraordinary as is the body language and expression of Chaney. Mary Philbin makes a radiant and expressive Christine. The early use of colour in one scene makes for one of the most memorable entrances in the history of cinema. Much prefer this version to all those that came after.