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Classic Film/The Phantom of the Opera

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Question
I heard that people fainted when the phantom's mask was removed is that true? Thank you!

Answer
Hi Brooke,

Thanks for your question.   It's a most interesting one, because it really cannot be completely truthfully answered.  The story that ( some) women fainted at the sight of the Phantom's gruesome face could very possibly be true.  I'm sure that at the time, such 'horror' was not usually seen on the screen, and that it Did cause people to gasp and scream.  It was said that the theatre managers offered smelling salts in the lobby to those overcome by the sight.  I'm sure that the studio's publicity department probably exaggerated the reactions to seeing "The Face".

But,...Lon Chaney's makeup really was hideous,..and was the result of some excruciating preparations.  Here's a quote about it:

" Following the success of The Hunchback of Notre Dame in 1923, Chaney was once again given the freedom to create his own make-up as the Phantom.   Chaney painted his eye sockets black, giving a skull-like impression to them. He also pulled the tip of his nose up and pinned it in place with wire, enlarged his nostrils with black paint, and put a set of jagged false teeth into his mouth to complete the ghastly deformed look of the Phantom. When audiences first saw The Phantom of the Opera, they were said to have screamed or fainted at the scene where Christine pulls the concealing mask away, revealing his skull-like features to the audience."

For a really detailed ( and overly long ) description of the "unmasking" scene, with photos, etc,…you can click on the following site:
http://offscreen.com/view/unmasking_the_phantom_of_the_opera

Enjoy,
Sincerely,
Jim K.

Classic Film

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Jim Kason

Expertise

Questions on classic films of the late 30's, 40's and 50's, especially the musicals.

Experience

Started going to films with my parents when I was two,..and when growing up..I usually saw 4 movies a week! I especially loved the musicals.

Education/Credentials
BA in "Speech and Drama" San Jose State Univ. MFA in "Theatre Arts/Acting" tanford Univ.

Awards and Honors
BA MFA

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