The Phantom Of The Opera (UK 1962)

Rating: ***
Review Date: 7/5/20
Director: Terence Fisher
Cast: Herbert Lom, Heather Sears, Edward de Souza, Michael Gough, Thorley Walters, cameo by Michael Ripper

The London Opera House experiences a string of odd occurrences and freak accidents during Lord Ambrose d'Arcy's latest production, which scares away the lead actress. They find a suitable replacement in young Christine Charles (Heather Sears), but the corrupt d'Arcy is more interested in bedding her than hearing her sing. Fortunately, the good-natured and well-mannered producer, Harry Hunter (Edward de Souza), rescues her from that horrible fate, which results in both of them getting fired from the production. It turns out that d'Arcy stole the opera from a certain Professor Petrie (Herbert Lom), who is presumed dead from a fire at a printing shop some years before. He survived (albeit disfigured) and has been lurking around in the sewers, planning to exact his revenge on d'Arcy. He also wants to train Christine's voice to perform his music, and ends up kidnapping her. Harry eventually solves the mystery and finds Petrie's hideout, and Christine performs the opera while Petrie looks on in admiration. Until yet another tragedy strikes.

Not being familiar with the material or any other versions of it, I found Hammer's adaptation to be a fun and entertaining thriller. Unfortunately, it runs out of steam at the end, as the lengthy opera sequences become tedious and stall the action. Herbert Lom gives an appropriately mad and tragic performance, but Heather Sears seems a bit stiff. Michael Gough is wonderful as the truly despicable Lord Ambrose and Thorley Walters gives a solid performance as the theater director. I'm not a big fan of Edward de Souza, but he's perfectly cast in this film and makes a delightfully charming hero. The film looks great, although Petrie's horror makeup isn't particularly interesting.