The Phantom of the Opera (1925)
seen online @ YouTube
I hadn't intended to watch so many silent horror movies this week, but I've taken a greater interest in silents recently, in part a result of discovering the blog Silent Volume, which is an excellent resource. Watching silent films requires your complete attention; you can't doze off or else you'll miss a title card or some other bit of information. It requires a level of interactivity greater than in "talkies;" you have to imagine what the actors sound like, and your interpretation may be different from the person next to you. And of course, the music is integral for establishing mood, be it low comedy or high tension.
The version of The Phantom of the Opera that I watched was not the greatest in terms of picture quality. There are several moments in the film where characters read handwritten notes, and I had to pause the movie so I could make them out. Some were more difficult to see than others. In addition, the score sounded like it was merely taken from some classical music record without any regard for how it fits the scenes. Lighthearted moments would have somber music playing, and vice versa.
I couldn't help but notice that in the comments, there was some discussion as to whether or not Lon Chaney's Erik, the titular phantom, was a tragic romantic figure or not. Personally, I don't see how he could be. Yes, he does what he does out of love, but his love is obsessive, possessive and leads to acts of madness and desperation. And some women think this is romantic? (There's a funny scene from the movie Forget Paris where Billy Crystal addresses this. If I could remember what he said verbatim, I'd quote it here.)
Not much more to say about the film except that I'd love to have seen this when it first came out so I could see people freak out over the famous unmasking scene.
Previously in Halloween Week 2010: