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Film / The Phantom of the Opera (1962)

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The Phantom of the Opera with Hammer Horror approach, released in 1962. Like many other Hammer productions, it was directed by Terence Fisher.

A mysterious man, only known as The Phantom (Herbert Lom) coaxes young singer named Christine Charles (Heather Sears) to be the perfect singer in the London opera house. He is in fact a former professor named Petrie, whose work was stolen by the Opera's owner Lord d'Arcy (Michael Gough), and who now seeks to have his musical ambitions met.

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This film has examples of:

  • Absent-Minded Professor: The former landlady of Professor Petrie describes him as this. He taught singing at the academy... when he remembered to go there.
  • Adaptational Heroism: The Phantom did not kill anyone inside of the film and is more noble.
  • All There in the Manual: Though it's never specified in the film, according to the pressbook Petrie became the Phantom five years prior to its events.
  • Alliterative Name: Christine Charles, Harry Hunter
  • Anachronism Stew: The opera is called St. Joan, but Joan of Arc wasn't canonized until 1920. The film takes place in 1900.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: The utterly despicable Lord Ambrose d'Arcy, who can easily be regarded as the true villain of the film.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Petrie gets to hear his music performed, but dies saving Christine.
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  • Burn the Witch!: The chorus of townspeople in the courtroom scene during the opera shout this regarding Joan.
  • Covers Always Lie: The original poster depicts the Phantom swinging on the soon-to-be-falling chandelier as the audience below looks up in terror. Actually, he is not in any way responsible for the chandelier's fall in this version - in fact, he dies after he sees it coming down and pushes Christine out of its way. The Phantom also never holds the swooning Christine in his arms as the inset image would have you believe. Practically all of the promotional images for this film depict it as being far more shocking and horrific than it actually is.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: As frightening as Petrie is to look at, his intentions are good.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Harry Hunter is quite snarky at times, particularly when dealing with Lord d'Arcy.
    Harry: What I don't understand is how Ambrose d'Arcy can write so much excellent music in the last few years when he has so little musical taste.
    d'Arcy: [coming up behind him] Thank you, Mr. Hunter.
    Harry: You're welcome.
  • Depraved Dwarf: Petrie's unnamed hunchbacked assistant, who performs all the killings in the film.
  • Dirty Old Man: Lord d'Arcy, who tries to convince Christine to accompany him back to his apartment in the middle of the night for "singing lessons". Luckily she is rescued by Harry, but d'Arcy is so angered by her rejection of him that he dismisses her from the opera.
    d'Arcy: [to Christine] You're a delicious little thing. I'm going to enjoy teaching you.
  • Dramatic Unmask: Used twice by Petrie:
    • First his face is revealed offscreen by Lord d'Arcy by ripping off his mask, who promptly runs away at the sight of it, never to be seen again.
    • He does this second time by randomly taking off his mask before swooping in to rescue Christine from a Falling Chandelier of Doom.
  • Eek, a Mouse!!: Even though she isn't showing any fear, Hunter picks up Christine anticipating this reaction and places her on top of a crate when they see escaped rats from rat catcher's bag scurrying about.
  • Evil Albino: The acid that splashed on Petrie's face has gradually turned his skin and hair grayish pale over the years.
  • Eye Scream: Petrie's assistant kills the rat catcher by stabbing him in the eye with a knife. There's also the fact that one of Petrie's own eyes is missing, presumably because the acid that disfigured his face melted it away.
  • Facial Horror: Thanks to the acid that splashed on Petrie's face, half of it has died.
  • Fainting: When Christine comes face to face with The Phantom the first time, she screams and faints on the spot.
  • Falling Chandelier of Doom: Naturally there is one, but surprisingly it does not fall at the Phantom's hands. He saves Christine from it, sacrificing his life in the process.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Petrie sees that the chandelier is about to fall and pushes Christine out of its way, getting crushed by it himself.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: Petrie entrusting the publication of his music to Lord d'Arcy, apparently never suspecting (in spite of how dismissive and rude d'Arcy was) that he might not be on the up and up.
  • Karma Houdini: Ambrose d'Arcy never pays for his crimes. What little comeuppance (if it can be called that) he gets is a fright upon seeing Petrie's disfigured face.
  • Lighter and Softer: Contrary to the other adaptations, only two people die in the movie, and neither by Phantom's hands.
  • Mad Artist: Only thing that Petrie cares about now is his music getting released.
  • Never Found the Body: When Petrie fled the printers after his face was burned by acid, he jumped into the river. The policeman who witnessed what happened was certain Petrie then died as the current was so fast, and never bothered to have the river dragged for his body.
  • Oh, Crap!: In the flashback, Petrie when he realises that d'Arcy is intentionally taking credit for his music.
  • Peek-a-Boo Corpse: Petrie's assistant sabotages Carlotta's performance by ripping a piece of scenery and letting a hanged corpse appear to terrify everyone.
  • Sanity Slippage: Though it's implied that he was always a bit eccentric, there are definitely signs that Petrie has started to lose his mind since becoming the Phantom. Notably there's the scene when he randomly walks away in the middle of teaching Christine to sing and starts speaking to someone who isn't there. What he says is later revealed to be what he once said to Lord d'Arcy while trying to convince him to help publish his music; he was reliving that moment in his mind.
  • Setting Update: This adaptation moves the setting from 1880s Paris to London in 1900.
  • Show Within a Show: Petrie's opera about Joan of Arc.
  • Single Tear: Petrie sheds a tear as Christine sings his work on stage.
  • Sleeping with the Boss: It is heavily implied that Lord d'Arcy is more interested in hiring women who are willing to do this than the ones with actual singing talent.
  • Smug Snake: Ambrose d'Arcy, who is incredibly arrogant and disdainful of everyone around him.
  • The Speechless: Petrie's assistant cannot speak, so even he doesn't know his name.
  • Staggered Zoom: The opening credits take place as camera does this on the Phantom's one good eye.
  • Standard Snippet: Petrie plays Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D minor with his pipe organ as his assistant kidnaps Christine.
  • Starving Artist: Professor Petrie was one when he sold his music to Lord d'Arcy. Though it embarrassed him, he asked for a small advance so he could pay overdue rent to his landlady.
  • A Tragedy of Impulsiveness: During the flashback, Professor Petrie is enraged to learn that Ambrose d'Arcy is passing his music off as his own. He breaks into the publisher's building and begins throwing what has been printed so far into the furnace. That in itself is an impulsive act serving no purpose other than to help him vent his anger, as surely d'Arcy would continue to print the falsely-attributed music regardless. Then when a fire begins, he grabs the first jar of liquid he can get his hands on to try to put it out. It turns out to be nitric acid...
  • Troubled Backstory Flashback: There is one that explains how Professor Petrie became the Phantom. He was a composer who came to Lord d'Arcy for help with publishing his music, only to be betrayed when d'Arcy claimed it as his own work. The furious Petrie broke into the publisher's building to destroy the freshly printed copies of the music. A fire broke out, and his face was horribly scarred when he tried to extinguish it with nitric acid he mistook for water.
  • Victorian London: Instead of Paris, this version of the story is set in London during the late Victorian era.
  • White Mask of Doom: Petrie wears one that covers his entire face except for his single eye.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Petrie becomes frustrated when Christine says she is too tired to continue her singing lesson and slaps her.


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