Phantom of the Opera/Hunchback of Notre Dame/Shadows/The Shock [4 Discs] [DVD]

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The Hunchback of Notre Dame
The Phantom of the Opera
Lon Chaney stars as Erik, the Phantom, in what is probably his most famous and certainly his most horrifying role. Produced by Universal, the film shot in 1923 and shelved for nearly two years, and was subjected to intensive studio tinkering. While many expected a disaster, the film turned out to be a rousing success. It was both the stepping off point for Chaney's run as a superstar at MGM and the prototype for the horror film cycle at Universal in the 1930s. The story concerns Erik, a much-feared fiend who haunts the Paris Opera House. Lurking around the damp, dank passages deep in the cellars of the theater, he secretly coaches understudy Christine Daae (Mary Philbin) to be an opera star. Through a startling sequence of terrors, including sending a giant chandelier crashing down on the opera patrons, the Phantom forces the lead soprano to withdraw from the opera, permitting Christine to step in. Luring Christine into his subterranean lair below the opera house, the Phantom confesses his love. But Christine is in love with Raoul de Chagny (Norman Kerry). The Phantom demands that Christine break off her relationship with Raoul before he'll allow her to return to the opera house stage. She agrees, but immediately upon her release from the Phantom's lair, she runs into the arms of Raoul and they plan to flee to England after her performance that night. The Phantom overhears their conversation and, during her performance, the Phantom kidnaps Christine, taking her to the depths of his dungeon. It is left to Raoul and Simon Buquet (Gibson Gowland), a secret service agent, to track down the Phantom and rescue Christine. ~ Paul Brenner, Rovi

The Shock
This tale of a crook's reform takes place in the San Francisco of the early 1900s. Predictably, Lon Chaney plays a crook and a misshapen cripple (the type of role almost expected of him at this point in his career). Anne Vincent, better known as "Queen Anne" (Christine Mayo), sends Wilse Dilling (Chaney) to a small town to keep an eye on Mischa Hadley (William Welsh), an embezzling banker who is her lover. Dilling falls in love with Hadley's daughter, Gertrude (Virginia Valli), and blows up the bank's safe to destroy incriminating records. The blast, however, leaves Gertrude a cripple, and Dilling uses his savings to restore her to health. Queen Anne, whose greed knows no end, has told Hadley that he will either give her more money or give her his daughter. Ultimately, she has Gertrude kidnapped and taken to a Chinese den. Dilling rescues her and she helps in his regeneration. The 1906 San Francisco earthquake shakes everything up, and Dilling's reform is complete. ~ Janiss Garza, Rovi

When it reviewed this simple little drama, the trade paper The Film Daily remarked (rather awkwardly), "Ben Schulberg has never achieved a reputation previously for desiring a place among the artistic producers, but...Shadows is one of the most artistically made pictures." Art was definitely not one of B.P. Schulberg's fortes but every now and again he'd produce something with true creative merit. Lon Chaney's fine performance as the Chinaman Yen Sin certainly enhanced this picture. Yen Sin is washed up onto the shore of a fishing village inhabited by God-fearing white people. He runs a laundry out of a houseboat, but because of his race and religion he suffers a lot of prejudice from the townsfolk. Then John Malden, a young minister (Harrison Ford, also turning in a stunning performance), comes to town and converts Yen Sin to Christianity. Malden wins Sympathy Gibbs (Marguerite De La Motte), a young widow whose cruel husband has been lost at sea. but after they marry he receives a mysterious note that is ostensibly from Sympathy's lost husband. The man blackmails Malden, who loses his church and home. Yen Sin, however, knows that the man who is tormenting Malden is actually deacon Nate Snow (John Sainpolis), who is bitter because he wanted Sympathy. Yen Sin waits until the appropriate moment, then exposes Snow to the whole village. Afterwards the Chinaman cuts the ropes tying his houseboat to the pier and sails off to his death. ~ Janiss Garza, Rovi

Cast & Crew

  • Lon Chaney
    Lon Chaney - Quasimodo
  • Ernest Torrence
    Ernest Torrence - Clopin
  • Patsy Ruth Miller
    Patsy Ruth Miller - Esmeralda
  • Norman Kerry
    Norman Kerry - Phoebus de Chateaupers
  • Kate Lester
    Kate Lester - Mme. De Gondelaurier
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