This “Making of” book about “The Phantom of the Opera” is a tremendous resource and clearly a work of love by author Philip J. Riley.
The term ‘classic’ is much over-used today, which possibly takes away from the importance of the meaning. To say that the 1925 film, The Phantom of the Opera, is a classic is an understatement, even its truest meaning. It is, quite possibly, the classic film defining the early form of the film medium and the wizardry initiative that film began.
In this book, Riley has dug deep to unearth some great information and interviews with those who have a connection to the film. What is unknown to most people is that there is almost as much a mystery surrounding the original film as there is in the story. What most people think of as the original 1925 silent film, starring Lon Chaney, is actually a modified, re-edited version. Riley takes us through all the variations of the film, what is known about the different versions, and what is unknown. I found it fascinating that in this silent film era, some (though not all) of this film was filmed in Technicolor alongside the standard black and white.
This information and research alone is valuable to anyone interested in the film and the changing era of silent to talkies and black and white to Technicolor. But this book offers so much more.
I’ve been a fan of films and film-making and done a fair amount of research of screenwriting but I’ve never had the opportunity to read a script as it was written for the silent film era. I personally may have been most excited to read through the original silent film script for Phantom of the Opera than any other aspect of this book.
There are a lot of stills included here, as well as press releases and reviews and articles by other magazines. The book ends with a very long article (or series of articles) from Liberty magazine, detailing Chaney’s career. Much of this extra, included material is in the form of reproduction straight from the original source (in the case of newspaper or magazine articles often including period ads). While it is so nice to see these things exactly as they appeared originally, it was sometimes very hard to read these, especially in the digital format that I was using.
I truly can’t believe how much valuable information was included in this volume and I think that this should be a required textbook for anyone interested in film.
Looking for a good book? Philip J. Riley’s The Phantom of the Opera is a well-researched examination of one of the most critical films in Hollywood’s history.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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Phantom of the Opera (Hollywood Archives Series)
author: Philip J. Riley
publisher: Magicimage Filmbooks
paperback, 320 pages