Tuesday, October 30, 2007

not sure why but Erin brought home a tape of Phantom of the Opera, and he watched it last night. I didn't intend to watch but got sucked in. I think Erin wanted the musical, at any rate, he didn't mean to watch the silent version. which, in a better world, would be b&w, not colourized. yet it was intriguing, me talking. it starred Lon Chaney, pere. I have a feeling that Lon Chaney jr was only a junior in the sense of playing on name rep, that his 1st name was probably Carlton or Clell or whatever. I also get the feeling that Jr wasn't a fully willing Hollywood entity, that dad's occupation kinda became his in that relentless family business way. thus Junior as Larry Talbot/Wolfman, tragic. anyhoo, I'd seen the Herbert Lom version of P of the O years ago (Lon, Lom, hmmm...), which was pretty good in a crisp 60s way. I heard somewhere, can't give reference, that Lon Chaney was pretty intense about his makeup, that he, for intense, used fish hooks to make his face look as it did in Phantom. owie! I believe, as well, that he did something drastic to twist his body for Quasimodo. I do not know why I retain such info (if it is info): I'm not that cinematically tuned. the Phantom is downright crazy in this film, rather than a bit toasted as he seems in the Lom vehicle. the movie was not all that cinematic, yet this staginess gave an otherworldliness to the proceedings. and there were some lovely, theatrical tableaux involved. the acting was of a grand dimension, full of extended gestures and statuary poses, you know, back of the hand to the forehead while the other arm extends in fainting weakness. both Christine and her noble salty dog managed that one several times each. Phantom was more like a mage or televangelist in his sweeping gestures. I wasn't paying full attention when the Phantom swam in the sewer, sneaking into the opera house, I think. steps out of the water wearing his cape, puts his hat on. kinda weird. you see the actors as loci for strange forces. they hadn't gotten the intimacy possible with movie cameras back then. I'm not saying that's a bad thing. I wasn't following the plot at all, just looking up now and then to witness some inscrutable strangeness. at one point Christine's lover and a friend tried to raid the Phantom's lair. he catches on to their sneak attack and implements a sudden heating of the chamber where they are. no explanation how this heating works, or why he'd be so prepared. suddenly the room is deathly hot and our hopeful heroes are in extremis. they get the idea eventually to remove their waistcoats and ties--mon dieu!!!-- but even that wouldn't save them. suddenly, tho, they discover a trap door, and they escape into a tunnel or sewer. but further suddenly, the Phantom unleashes a flood and it looks like they're a goner. luckily, or tragically, Christine agrees to do whatever the Phantom says if he will save they. he proceeds to throw the carpet aside and open the trapdoor in that room, and there the sad victims are, this close to death's grim maw. well okay, that's about all I saw. I reiterate that the Phantom was quite the loony. to the degree, I mean, that he proves unsettling. I don't know what any of this has to do with Martin Heidegger. er, I really am reading Heidegger, on poetry. I am certain that the thingliness of Chaney somehow...er...
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