Chaney's: " The Phantom of the Opera"

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Jim Peavy, Oct 23, 2002.

  1. Jim Peavy

    Jim Peavy Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2002
    Messages:
    724
    Likes Received:
    0
    Wasn't/isn't there a Kino edition out of this? If so, how does it compare to the Image version? Maybe I'm just remembering the Image version, but I swear I saw a Kino as well. Somebody(!), set me straight...
     
  2. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

    Joined:
    May 16, 2001
    Messages:
    7,549
    Likes Received:
    179
    Location:
    Georgia (the state)
    Real Name:
    Patrick McCart
    Milestone Video will be releasing Kevin Brownlow's restoration next year, I think.

    Check alt.movies.silent for updates.
     
  3. Jim Peavy

    Jim Peavy Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2002
    Messages:
    724
    Likes Received:
    0
    Wow! Thanks Patrick--glad I asked!
    Uh, Could a Mod. delete my "bold-codes"s on my thread title. It's kinda' embarassing...
    (Edit: Thanks!)
    I thought you could put bold type in a title. Apparently not!
     
  4. Keith Paynter

    Keith Paynter Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 1999
    Messages:
    1,833
    Likes Received:
    3
    I have seen a great number of versions of the 1929 print, but my favorite has to be a 16mm edition (I'm not sure who created it) featuring a fabulous organ score by the late Lee Erwin (as credited at the end of the print with a still frame). I had the good fortune in my younger years to make a cassette recording from that print's soundtrack, and found recent prints using the same score, but oddly with a different print edit (the soundtrack ran for several seconds into the tail of the print) and I have yet to find a video with this synchronized version.
    The 24fps Image laserdisc (David Shepard restoration plus 1925 16mm silent version) would have made a great recreation of these elements if it didn't use the 2-strip Technicolor Bal Masque sequence (different speed - runs faster than the b&w version). The new DVD edition is slowed to 20fps, so reasonable synchronization to my cassette tape is impossible.
    The Lee Erwin edition features a spoken prologue to match the 1929 opening segment, which may or may not have been similar to the "sound" re-release (dialgue by some principals, newly recorded opera segments), and goes like this:
     
  5. Larry Sutliff

    Larry Sutliff Cinematographer

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2000
    Messages:
    2,861
    Likes Received:
    10
     
  6. Jim Peavy

    Jim Peavy Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2002
    Messages:
    724
    Likes Received:
    0

    So the "sound" rerelease had more than the opening spoken intro? I thought the sound segments were merely the intro and maybe a short closing monologue. Did not know about the "dialogue by some principals" and "newly recorded opera segments." Very cool!
     
  7. Damin J Toell

    Damin J Toell Producer

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2001
    Messages:
    3,762
    Likes Received:
    6
    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY
    Real Name:
    Damin J. Toell
     
  8. Keith Paynter

    Keith Paynter Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 1999
    Messages:
    1,833
    Likes Received:
    3
    The Image DVD (and its companion laserdisc re-release version) use the Technicolor Bal Masque Sequence, but it runs tremendously faster than the black and white footage that is found on full-length b&w prints (I have a videotape copy made from a projected 24fps 16mm sound print captured by video camera, and it features the Lee Erwin soundtrack with spoken prologue)
    The b&w 16mm print I refer to has a title card in the Bal Masque sequence missing from many prints - as Norman Kerry pulls off his mask, the following card appears:
    "That sounds like the voice I heard in your dressing room!"
    Kino did put this out on video, but only on VHS, and is still available. It is the same version as the Image DVD, with the David Sheppard print and score composed by Gabriel Thibadoux.
    [​IMG]
     
  9. Mark Zimmer

    Mark Zimmer Producer

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 1997
    Messages:
    4,300
    Likes Received:
    40
    Phantom's history as a film is a tortured one strangely appropriate to the character of the Opera Ghost. Part of this is Universal's fault, since they have a terrible record of preserving their silent films, one of the lowest of the major studios. I've seen estimated survival rates of about 12% for Universal's output.
    I'm virtually certain the Brownlow restoration is again of the 1929 version. Kino has not yet released a DVD of Phantom, nor have I heard any announcements that they're intending to do so, though I understand the sales of the German Horror set were very encouraging. So far as I know no one has any plans to release the 1925 version on DVD, which is sad.
    The reason that no one is tackling the original appears to be the low quality of the sole surviving source materials for the '25 version, which are derived from a "show at home" reduction to 16mm released some years later, and which has unfortunately very dupey quality to it. My guess is that DVD producers fear that the quality would be unacceptable on the higher-resolution format. Alas, it's not as simple as blowing up the '25, taking the 35mm elements for the 1929 version and splicing them into the '25 elements, since the 1929 elements appear to derive from a foreign release master and thus include substantially different takes (the '25 unmasking sequence is not the same as the '29, for instance). Some of the sound discs for the '29 release still exist, but they don't match up to the 1929 print that we have, so what the US '29 theatrical version was like is almost anybody's guess. Nearly all of the archival material has vanished from Universal's archives, as I understand it mostly swiped by "researchers." Chaney is known not to have recorded any dialogue on the sound discs, though, so don't get excited on that count.
    The 1929 version that we have seems to have been intended for totally silent foreign release (though the prologue with the man with the lantern might be tacked on from the part-sound US version). The US '29 version thus oddly enough seems to actually be a lost film.
    It'd sure be nice if a 35mm 1925 Phantom would show up, but given the notoriety of the title and the lapse of 77 years, that seems extremely doubtful. [​IMG] What I'd truly love to see is the test print that was deemed too scary to release, before most of the horror was cut out of it [​IMG]--there's a particularly intriguing sequence with the Phantom in a graveyard that looks like it would have been something else and a terrific showpiece for Chaney's talents. But that's about as likely as an intact Greed showing up on my doorstep.
    Anyway, Chaney fans, don't forget to set your VCRs for the new London After Midnight reconstruction on TCM 10/31 8 PM ET.
     
  10. Jim Peavy

    Jim Peavy Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2002
    Messages:
    724
    Likes Received:
    0
    [​IMG] !! I'm trying to think if I'd ever heard of this and I'm not recalling anything. Too much! The only thing I can think of is that still of the Phantom lying back on the bench of his organ, seemingly dead, with Raoul (Christina's suitor) bending over him. Seems like I read this was from an alternate ending before the actual one was filmed.
    Fascinatin' stuff, guys. Thanks!
     
  11. Mark Philp

    Mark Philp Second Unit

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2001
    Messages:
    302
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Syracuse, New York
    Real Name:
    Mark
    It is sad that there is so little original material of "The Phantom" left. As the story goes, Universal destroyed just about all of it's silents, in the 40's because they thought there was no commercial value left to them and they didn't want to pay for storage of "worthless" films. They weren't the only studio either. Supposedly, many of the prints were stored in warehouse in New Jersey and were dumped in the Hudson River as fill for a building project. What exists today is the result of the efforts of film collectors. Thanks guys!
     
  12. Gordon McMurphy

    Gordon McMurphy Producer

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2002
    Messages:
    3,530
    Likes Received:
    0
    In reply to Keith Paynter:
    Ah, the late and truly great Lee Erwin. [​IMG] For me, Erwin is one of the all-time great organists. He's up their with Bach. He played with great passion and his longevity is a great inspiration. He's jammin' with Jimi now! Glorious stuff.
    G.C.M
     
  13. Keith Paynter

    Keith Paynter Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 1999
    Messages:
    1,833
    Likes Received:
    3
    Thanks, Gordon,. That Lee Erwin print must have been fairly successful, because it ran on several late night movie shifts in the 70's (Remember those days? Gawd, I can believe I said that - I am no longer a whippersnapper [​IMG] )
     
  14. Jim Peavy

    Jim Peavy Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2002
    Messages:
    724
    Likes Received:
    0

    Keith, I'm still not sure I follow you here. So the Lee Erwin score was synched to a 24fps print of the foreign '29 rerelease version, without the technicolor sequence (which is what throws off your synchronization)--?

    The new Image DVD is at 20fps (correct for a silent film--?), so you can't synch the Erwin score to it either--am I understanding you correctly?
     
  15. Keith Paynter

    Keith Paynter Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 1999
    Messages:
    1,833
    Likes Received:
    3
    The recording was taken directly from a 16mm reduction print (100% b&w, with Bal Masque intertitles that match the remaining film, including the missing intertitle noted above), running at 24 fps. The Bal Masque sequence from the original 2-strip Technicolor footage, when running at 24 fps (as per the original Image laserdisc), runs slightly faster than the same footage in b&w, plus, the length of the intertitles differs between the two versions of this sequence.
    It has been difficult to find a video print that matches the version I'm working against, because many of the public domain cheapies are either low quality versions of the Shepard enhanced print, or low speed versions of the full-length b&w pirint, either silent or poorly scored.
    BTW, PBS is running a Chaney edition of American Masters on Oct 30th - PBS Detroit shows it at 9:0opm Eastern, and again at 2:00am.
    The reason I have been trying to restore this edition is because while I have made a videotape recording directly through camera, the print was brand new, not a splice in it, but the source print itself misses a 10 second segment between the new owners and Mme. Giry, including the following intertiles:
    -"Who occupies Box Five?"
    -"I do not know. I have only seen the cloaked figure of a man who hides his face and will not speak" (complete on the original Image laserdisc)
    The only intertitle on the print is "Is it The Phantom?". This was a major diappointment in an attempt to have this fully sync'd print as part of a homemade video of this film with the Lee Erwin score. The original Image laserdisc is the closest thing to a perfect print source to restore this by computer, but the color Bal Masque sequence, though vital to own, makes the restoration difficult. The fade-out on side 1 and fade-in on side 2 are distracting, but minor)
    [​IMG] The original Image 1929/1925 set package
    The version with the Lee Erwin score is not the Blackhawk/Film Preservation Associates/David Shepard print. There is no intertitle prologue typical of Blackhawk silents, and the end of the film features a still recognizing Erwin as the composer of the accompaniment.
     
  16. oscar_merkx

    oscar_merkx Lead Actor

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2002
    Messages:
    7,626
    Likes Received:
    1
    thanks guys for the update on this film, I am looking forward to own the dvd when it comes out
    cheers
    [​IMG]
     
  17. Jim Peavy

    Jim Peavy Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2002
    Messages:
    724
    Likes Received:
    0

    Any more word on this? Would love to be able to pre-order!
     
  18. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
    Reviewer

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 1999
    Messages:
    9,635
    Likes Received:
    5,890
    Real Name:
    Robert Harris
    Might the mysterious 16mm version with score being discussed be that created by Bob Lee of Griggs-Moviedrome?

    There are certainly 16s of this around.

    RAH
     

Share This Page