The silent horror classic “The Phantom of the Opera” will be showing this Saturday at the Senate Theater in Detroit.
The 1925 film is based on Gaston Leroux’s novel of the same name. Lon Chaney Sr. plays the title role of the Phantom who terrorizes the famed Paris Opera House. Mary Philbin plays Christine, the beautiful rising star who is suddenly taken out of the chorus and becomes the understudy to prima donna Carlotta (Mary Fabian). Her fiancé Raoul (Norman Kerry) wants her to quit the opera and marry him, but she will not let her career interfere with her personal life.
The management abruptly quits and tells the new managers about the Opera Ghost, a phantom who asks for opera box #5, among other things. The new managers laugh it off as a joke, but the old management leaves troubled. The Phantom sends a note to the management that Christine will replace Carlotta in the production of “Faust” and if not, there will be severe consequences. Christine performs, and receives a standing ovation. She tells Raoul after the show that she has been tutored by the “Spirit of Music” and cannot possibly marry him now.
The next evening the defiant Carlotta resumes her place in the opera, and the Phantom’s curse takes effect again, sending the opera house chandelier crashing to the ground. In the chaos, Christine flees to her dressing room, where she is entranced by a mysterious voice through a secret door behind the mirror. Christine enters the lower levels of the Opera House where e she finally meets her teacher—the Phantom. He has prepared a suite exclusively for her and promises she can come and go as she pleases—as long as she does not touch his mask. But Christine can’t help but be curious…
Chaney’s face was not shown in trailers or in posters for the film, thus leaving audiences unprepared for what they were about to see. Many audience members are said to have screamed or fainted at the scene where Christine pulls the concealing mask away, revealing his skull-like features to the audience.
There will be live organ accompaniment by Chicago organist Dennis Scott. Scott began accompanying silent films in the 1970’s. Suzanne Lloyd, granddaughter of the comic genius Harold Lloyd, has dubbed him the “Master of Magic Notes.” He is a regular performer for the Sound of Silents Film Festival in Three Oaks, Michigan, and since 2000 has been featured in the Silent Film Society of Chicago’s Silent Summer Film Festivals.
Show time is Saturday, October 24 at 8 P.M. Tickets are $10 and may be purchased in advance at the theater’s website.