Question re: the Chaney PHANTOM OF THE OPERA

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Dick, Dec 26, 2003.

  1. Dick

    Dick Producer
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    I have purchased the Milestone/Image 2-disc set and love it, but the version I am most familiar with is neither the 1925 original nor the '29 re-issue included here. A previous DVD release was closer to what I remember having on 8mm from, I believe, Blackhawk Films. In it, directly after the titles and credits, there is an odd sequence featuring someone holding a lantern in the catacombs beneath the opera house, while the phantom's shadow passes by twice behind him. From there we cut to an exterior establishing shot of the Opera House, etc. But what is this third edition of which I speak? Mr. McCart? Anyone?
     
  2. Damin J Toell

    Damin J Toell Producer

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    The Blackhawk Films version, restored by David Shepard, was released on DVD in 1997 by Image and is still available. The back of that case says that it is the 1929 reissue. I wouldn't know why the scene was dropped from the 1929 version on the Milestone set, but perhaps Kevin Brownlow was somehow unable to acquire the necessary elements?

    DJ
     
  3. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

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    The Blackhawk DVD is basically the 1950 fine-grain positive George Eastman House print of the alternate 1930 re-issue version, plus the first part of the Bal Masque scene (the start, up until the roof-top scene) from a dye-transfer print from 1929 that David Shepard held.

    The Photoplay Productions restoration uses a few scenes from UCLA's 16mm material, the George Eastman House fine-grain, David Shepard's dye-transfer print, and some digital restoration and colorization applied.

    Jack Theakston would probably know more about this, though
     
  4. Dick

    Dick Producer
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    Thanks for the reply. Actually, the other DVD I had I do not believe was a Blackhawk print. It was this one, from Image:

    [​IMG]

    It was the 8mm print I owned back in 1965 that was from Blackhawk, and included the "prologue" I described, which also happens to be on the Image DVD, albeit heavily tinted red.

    Was this yet another alternate 1925 version?
     
  5. Jack Theakston

    Jack Theakston Supporting Actor

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    Hello,

    The Blackhawk 8mm and 16mm prints were sourced from the George Eastman House print, which is the same on David Shepard's edition and the Brownlow edition on the Milestone package.

    The prologue was cut out of the Brownlow edition because they felt it made no sense and no continuities show it as being in the cuts.

    Strangely, it does show up in the 16mm show-at-home print of the original 1925 version.

    The David Shepard/Image edition does feature the man-with-the-lantern prologue, albeit silent. I'm not sure if it was supposed to be tinted red, and in an edition I made based off of tinting records, I've tinted it green, so who knows.

    There's some speculation as to what the man is saying. According to Scott McQueen, this footage was shot in 1929, giving the impression that the footage was shot in sound. I tend to think that it was shot in 1925, as parts of it are featured in show-at-home prints. Still, there are no official records that show what he is saying. The only two leads are this:

    There's a transcript (somewhere, perhaps LOC if memory serves) that reads:


    "There are shadows here... Phantoms and shadows. The atmosphere is heavy-- it chills the blood-- but shh! Here it comes! Is this a shadow? Or is it the Phantom?"

    (Pause, wait for lantern man to come back out of the left)

    "We are in the torture chambers deep beneath the Paris Opera House. This is the lair of the Phantom-- he haunts these chambers. A ghastly face. Yet through him moves a weird, strange poetry. But silence now! Here comes a Phantom-- The Phantom of the Opera!"

    I recently saw this put to good effect at a live performance of the film. There's also an intertitle that reads in the 1925 version (continuity follows):

    TITLE
    Far beneath the magnificent
    Paris Opera House is an
    intricate maze of cellars,
    used once as dungeons
    and torture chambers –
    the grim relics of an age
    of cruelty, intolerance and
    oppression.

    (Master shot. Latern man crosses from left to center)
    (Medium shot. Lantern man clutching his coat and holding lantern.)

    TITLE (D)
    "But who thinks of cellars-
    dismal haunts of creeping
    things – when the Paris
    Opera stages a ballet?"

    (Chemical fade out.)
    (Fade in. Ext. Paris Opera House- night).
     
  6. Damin J Toell

    Damin J Toell Producer

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    That Image disc has a Blackhawk logo on the back. That's the 1997 release to which I referred earlier.

    DJ
     
  7. Dick

    Dick Producer
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    I appreciate the clarification everyone. Have a great New Year!
     

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