This article was written by Rebekah Brannan for The Phantom of the Opera Blogathon.
In 1935, the film Naughty Marietta was debuted in theaters, making Nelson Eddy and Jeanette Macdonald one of the great film couples. In 1991, the play Phantom was debuted at Theater Under the Stars in Houston, Texas. The two were never destined to be joined. However, they may exist in our imagination. Today, I am going to show how the famous film team and this great musical, though their timelines did not meet, could have made for a magnificent film. This imagined film will take place in the year 1939, a year that the Singing Sweethearts didn’t make a film together but should have. I will take the dialogue from the play verbatim, only making a few small changes for the purpose of making it Code-compliant. Come along with me to see how this sparkling team could have made this great play a film smash! Now, the chandeliers dim, the theater hushes, and the screen comes to life! Get ready for a phantastic phenomenon, because here comes Phantom!
The story opens on the Avenue de l’Opera around the turn of the century. Christine Daeé (Jeanette MacDonald), enters and begins setting up a stand while singing to herself. A crowd gathers around her, curious to see what she’s doing. She tells them that she is selling a newly published song about Paris. She begins selling copies of the song as she sings it for them. It is a joyous ditty entitled Mélodie de Paris. Soon, she is approached by the Count Philippe de Chandon (Allan Jones), the heir to a champagne fortune and a patron of the Paris Opera. He tells Christine that she has great talent and gives her his card. He instructs her to present the card to Gerard Carrier, the manager of the opera, and he will arrange for her to have singing lessons. Overjoyed, Christine sings the rest of her song with the crowd.
Suddenly, the mood changes to a dark one as the scene switches to the Paris Opera. Two people are seen backstage at the Paris Opera, talking. They are Carlotta (Bette Davis), the new diva of the opera, and her costume man, Joseph Buquet (Curt Bois). Carlotta tells Buquet to go down below and give her an inventory of what he finds there. Buquet says that some of the stagehands told him not to go below, but Carlotta insists, and Joseph Buquet nervously descends the staircase. The scene switches the cellars of the opera, where we see the Erik, the Phantom of the Opera (Nelson Eddy), attended by his acolytes, the faceless dregs of Paris society. While Christine joyously sang that Paris is all that is beautiful, Erik sings a different, dismal song entitled Paris is a Tomb. His face is not visible to us as he tries on different masks, but it is visible to Joseph Buquet, who enters when Erik is unmasked. The frightened man cries out, and Erik quickly pulls on the mask and points to Buquet. The acolytes close in on Joseph Buquet and the terrified man screams as the camera fades out.
The scene switches to a much gayer atmosphere as operagoers and members of the company alike sing the cheery song Dressing for the Night. The camera switches back and forth in between the two different groups, even going into the street and back to the cellars to show Christine and Erik joining in near the end. When the song ends, the camera cuts to backstage at the opera. Gerard Carriere (John Barrymore), Carlotta, and her husband, Alain Cholet (Frank Morgan), emerge from the crowd of boisterous performers. It is disclosed that Cholet and Carlotta have taken over the opera and fired Carriere. The performers, who are all very fond of Carriere, are shocked and dismayed at the news that he’s been fired, and angrily say that Cholet and Carlotta must have bought their way in by bribing the Minister of Culture (Walter Kingsford). Suddenly, a note mysteriously flutters down from above, causing the performers to excitedly say that it’s from the Phantom of the Opera. Most of the crowd scatters in fear. Cholet and Carlotta are puzzled by mention of the Phantom, but the Minister of Culture hastily says that it’s just a rumor. Carriere reads the note and unhappily asks Cholet to step into his office, saying that he will explain.
The scene cuts to Cholet’s new office, where Cholet reads the note, which says that Joseph Buquet broke the rules. Cholet is puzzled by this, and Carriere informs him that the opera is haunted by the Phantom. The Phantom, he says, has set up the rule, “All you need to know is don’t go down below.” As long as this rule is obeyed, the Phantom will not bother them. Cholet angrily says that this is all a ploy devised by Carriere to get revenge for being fired and storms out of the office, saying that he doesn’t believe in ghosts. Suddenly, the Phantom’s voice is heard. He tells Carriere that Joseph Buquet found out where he lived and saw his face, so he had no choice but to kill him. Carriere is deeply troubled by this news. A panel in the wall opens and Erik asks Carriere to come in. Carriere enters and the scene shifts to a dark, gloomy network of stone corridors. Erik is seen, the mask on his face expressing rage. He reminds Carriere that he has lived his whole life by threatening to kill, but it has never been necessary before. He demands to know why Carriere let Buquet enter the cellars, and Carriere informs him that he has been fired. Erik is thunderstruck, realizing that his whole life is crumbling around him. Just when it seems things can’t get any worse, Carlotta is heard in the distance, practicing her singing. Erik is horrified by her awful singing, and he is crushed when Carriere tells him she’s the new diva of the opera. He reminds Carriere that he can’t live without some beauty in his life. Erik jokingly says that he could kill Carlotta, Cholet, or both, then suddenly announces that he will go with Carriere. He soon remembers, however, that he is not fit for anywhere but this dark, dismal place. He dejectedly sends Carriere away and begins singing of a girl who could be his angel of music in the sweeping Where in the World.
Meanwhile, Christine is speaking to Jean-Claude (Jimmy Conlin), the stage-door manager. She shows him Philippe’s card and asks to see Gerard Carrier. Jean-Claude informs her that Carriere has been fired and hurries away to attend to other matters. Christine just stands there, crushed, when she is approached by three members of the chorus, Flora (Lynne Carver), Florence (Martha O’Driskell), and Fleure (Virginia Grey), approach her mischievously. They ask her if the Count sent her and open three identical, heart-shaped lockets with pictures of him, telling her that he helped all of them get jobs. They leave Christine feeling even more dejected, and Jean-Claude, taking pity on her, says he’ll take her to see the new manager.
The camera cuts to the manager’s office, which is actually a suite where Cholet and Carlotta will now live. Carlotta has had all her things moved in, including multiple portraits of herself, but she is very upset. She tells Cholet that there is a ghost in her dressing room, which was moving the furniture, dropping her clothes off of the wall, and chuckling behind her walls. Cholet tells her that it is not a ghost, but the angry Carriere playing tricks on them, and vows to take care of it before leaving. As he leaves, multiple members of the staff rush in to tell Carlotta of their plans for the season. Carlotta is outraged and says that she will tell them what she has planned for the season, not the other way around, and tells them to get out. They try to object, but she sends them away firmly. She then begins singing how tiring the job of a diva is, when she has an opera house all her own, in the extravagant song This Place is Mine.
The scene changes to another backstage area, where Christine and Jean-Claude are asking Cholet about singing lessons. Jean-Claude discreetly tells him that she was sent by the Count de Chandon, an important patron, and Cholet, catching on, says he’ll see what he can do. Back in her dressing room, Carlotta is trying on a gaudy dress in front of a mirror. Cholet asks her about Christine’s lessons, but Carlotta is disgusted by Christine’s appearance, manner, and farm background. Carlotta tells Christine that she can only learn by observing singers, and gives her a job in the costume department, saying she can take the place of the missing Joseph Buquet. Cholet and Jean-Claude are horrified, but, as Jean-Claude leads Christine out, she tells him she’s thrilled just to be in the opera house. Carlotta asks Cholet how she looks, causing him to launch into a long, preposterous monologue comparing her to early spring. She is flattered and they kiss several times before exiting together. They pass Christine, who is onstage, picking up costumes deserted there, and Carlotta encourages her, insisting this is the only way to learn singing.
At last, Christine is left alone on the stage with the costumes. She sings of her joy to finally be in the wonderful opera house in the dreamy song Home. The scene cuts to Erik, deep below in the cellars. He hears Christine’s voice and, drawn by the beautiful sound, begins to ascend the stairs. Meanwhile, Christine finishes her song. The Phantom then begins to sing of the discovery of his long-awaited angel, in his own rendition of Home. They sing the final refrain together, although she is unaware of his presence. Erik finally reaches the surface of the opera house, but he is hidden in the shadows, where she can’t see him. He calls to Christine and tells her that she has a beautiful, but untrained voice. He tells her that he is a famous singer, and that he wishes to give her lessons. He says that he doesn’t want others to ask for lessons, as well, so he will keep his identity hidden by wearing a mask. Christine is puzzled by this mysterious voice from the shadows, and she is unsure what to say. However, he says she needn’t give him an answer now, for he will find her later, and bids her farewell. Christine, mystified but intrigued, goes back to her work as the camera fades out.
In the next scene, the company is onstage preparing sets for a production of Aida. Cholet is seen downstage, greeting Inspector Ledoux (Grant Mitchell). Cholet nervously takes Ledoux to a quiet corner of the stage, where Carlotta can’t overhear them. However, she is too busy adjusting her wig and overseeing the set placement to pay them any mind. Cholet shows Ledoux the letters he has received from the Phantom, even reading one which says that he approves of Aida, but not of Carlotta playing the lead role. Cholet tells Ledoux that these preposterous notes, which he has been receiving all month, are greatly upsetting his wife. Ledoux tries to comfort him, saying they are only from a ghost, but Cholet says there is no ghost. He is still convinced Carriere is behind this Phantom farce. He demands that Ledoux have Carriere arrested for criticizing his wife before she has even performed! Ledoux sighs as the camera fades out.
We fade in on a hidden music room in the opera house. It is lit only by candles, and it is night. The Phantom is sitting at a grand piano, and Christine is standing in front of it. He begins taking her through some basic vocal exercises and scales. Then, the camera cuts to the manager’s office, where Carlotta, Cholet, Ledoux, and two policemen are talking. Ledoux is shocked to learn that Aida isn’t supposed to be funny. The two policemen inform Cholet and Carlotta that her wig was infested with bugs. That was why Carlotta kept scratching during the show. Back in the music room, Christine and Erik continue to vocalize. Back in the office, Ledoux is now learning that La Traviata is not supposed to be funny, either. The two policemen explain that the last trick, which took place when Carlotta picked up her goblet to make a toast, was done with glue. The policeman demonstrates by lifting the nearby goblet. The tray on which it is sitting lifts with the goblet, showing that they have been glued together. Cut back to Christine and Erik, still vocalizing. Back in the office, Carlotta and Cholet are now fretting about the reviews. Cholet offers to get Carlotta a drink. He goes to get her a brandy, and the body of Joseph Buquet, which was propped upright inside, falls to the floor. They are all horrified. Then, Cholet and Ledoux, along with the ensemble, begin to sing about the phantom’s invasion of the opera, in the dramatic Phantom Fugue.
The scene fades to the secret music room, where Christine and Erik are once again practicing. Suddenly, Erik closes the piano and turns away from Christine. She sees that something is troubling him and asks if she has displeased him. He reassures her that her voice is what he’s been dreaming of his whole life, but nonetheless says that he can’t teach her anymore. She is dismayed and confused, still thinking she has done something wrong, but he tells her it is because she is ready to audition. However, she cannot audition the normal way, since Carlotta would be too jealous. He tells her that she will audition at the Bistro, where the company members gather to celebrate after a show, saying that he even knows what she will wear. Christine, ecstatic, says that it’s like a dream. Erik replies that it is real, then lovingly says that the gods must have smiled when they imagined her. He has her do more exercises with him, but then transfers into a soaring profession of his love in the gorgeous You Are Music. She joins him, and they sing it together. As the song finishes, the camera fades out.
The next scene opens at the Bistro. All the performers from the opera are milling about, including Carlotta, Cholet, the Minister of Culture, Jean-Claude the Count de Chandon, Flora, Florence, and Fleure. The three chorus members are all trying to get the attention of the Count, who, we begin to realize, is giving this party. Although Philippe is being polite to his guests, he seems distracted. Meanwhile, a chorus of waiters are harmonizing on the exuberant Sing, urging all the guests to join their singing. Meanwhile, Cholet asks Carlotta to sing. She pretends to be reluctant, saying it wouldn’t be fair, but she soon agrees, much to her husband’s pleasure. Meanwhile, Philippe seems to be looking for someone. Flora, Florence, and Fleure are trying desperately to get his attention, but he passes them off distractedly and approaches Jean-Claude. He asks him where Christine is, and Jean-Claude teases him about being in love with the young singer. Philippe is embarrassed and tries to change the subject by asking how her lessons are going. He is shocked and dismayed to learn that Carriere has been fired and Christine has been put in the costume department, but he understands that it is not Jean-Claude’s fault. Florence approaches Philippe, a champagne glass in her hand, and tries to speak to him. However, he absentmindedly takes the glass from her hand and drinks the contents without hearing a word she’s said. Right then, Carriere enters and calls to him, turning at the sound of his name, Philippe distractedly puts the glass back in Florence’s hand and walks away. He greets Carriere warmly and offers his condolences for the loss of his job. Carriere asks him where this girl he sent to him is, and Philippe says that he doesn’t know. Philippe raves about Christine’s talent to him, and Carriere teasingly says she’s wonderful like all the girls Philippe has sent him, but the Count insists that this one’s different. Suddenly, Christine enters, looking breathtaking in a gorgeous white dress. A stir spreads through the crowd, questioning the identity of the beautiful woman. No one recognizes her, since they have never seen Christine looking this radiant. Philippe recognizes her, however, and calls her name. Everyone is shocked to learn that this is the simple costume girl, and Carlotta gulps down a glass of champagne when Christine flashes her a radiant smile. Philippe rushes over to Christine and apologizes for her job in costumes. She tells him that she’s honored just to be in the theater, but he insists that she will have lessons as he promised, because her voice must be developed. The head waiter announces that the contest will begin. Philippe asks Christine to sing, and she agrees. The chorus of waiters once again begin to sing the rousing Sing. Carlotta announces that this evening they will strictly sing songs about Paris, and says she will start the contest, and rather too elaborately sings a chorus of the light tune Paris is a Lark. Carlotta is applauded, and then the head waiter asks who will go next. Philippe says Christine will sing, but Carlotta questions this, since she is just her costume girl. Philippe insists that she has a nice voice, however, and leads Christine to the front. Everyone in the crowd expects her to be awful, and there is some sarcastic chuckling, except from Philippe and Carriere, who move closer to Christine. Suddenly, a mysterious figure in an overcoat with an upturned collar, a low-brimmed hat, and a scarf which hides his face, appears outside the Bistro and looks in. Christine smiles at Carlotta and begins to sing a reprise of Mélodie de Paris. Everyone is shocked, realizing that she really can sing. However, the beautiful simplicity of her singing doesn’t suggest any bravura, showing that she could not compete with a diva! Carlotta grudgingly says that Christine’s voice is sweet but weak. However, even as she says it, Christine goes into an astonishing coloratura section, which ends with a perfect high note. Everyone, even Philippe, is amazed by just how marvelous her voice is. The crowd begins cheering, applauding, and begging for more. Carlotta looks as though she’ll have a heart attack. Encouraged by the crowd’s supports, Christine goes into a new song, As You Would Love Paris. She is joined by two tenors from the company, and, eventually, the enthusiastic crowd. As she finishes this song, she is lifted onto a table by the admiring ensemble. She once again begins singing her beloved Mélodie de Paris, now accompanied by the enraptured company. At last, the singing ends, and the crowd erupts into cheers and applause. The Minister of Culture and a patron of the opera urge Cholet to sign up Christine, and Cholet hurries to do so. Meanwhile, another opera diva, who is standing near Carlotta, guilelessly marvels that the costume girl has a better voice than any of them in the company. Carlotta throws a drink in her face. Christine is taking bows before the cheering crowd when Carlotta comes over to her. Feigning admiration and friendliness, Carlotta asks Christine for what she has been signed. Christine says the chorus, but Carlotta says she is too good for that, and must play only lead roles. Everyone, including Christine, is shocked by this, since she has no experience. However, Carlotta boldly announces that she has talent, and that she will sing Titania in The Fairy Queen. Everyone is shocked, but Carlotta insists that she can do it. The company cheers for Carlotta’s generosity, and she smiles with gratitude, then sweeps away. Philippe rushes over to Christine and embraces her, saying that he doesn’t think she needs lessons after all. He asks Carriere to come over and introduces him to Christine. Carriere congratulates her on her lovely voice, and rather wistfully says it reminds him of the voice of a great singer from the past, Belladova. He says he imagines Christine hasn’t heard of her, and she replies that she hasn’t. He says it’s of no consequence and sends her off to enjoy her success. Philippe whispers something to Christine, and she nods excitedly. They rush out of the Bistro and hurry off into the night. Meanwhile, the man in the coat who was looking in the window is following their every move. In the last shot of him, we finally manage to see that he is wearing a mask. He looks after the young couple despairingly as we cut to the Avenue de l’Opera.
A full moon is shining, and both the opera house and the Bistro are visible in the distance. Philippe and Christine appear; he is bearing a bottle of champagne and two glasses. Christine notices that the champagne has his name on it, and he is slightly embarrassed. He changes the subject by remarking that he shouldn’t give her champagne, since she is champagne herself. She laughingly says she wasn’t that good, but he insists that she was, and professes his love for her in the frivolous song, Who Could Ever Have Dreamed Up You. Christine eventually joins him, hesitantly returning his sentiment, and they finish the song together before the camera fades out.
The next scene is outside the opera. It is the opening night of The Fairy Queen, and the first nighters are marveling at the casting of an unknown in the lead role. However, several anonymous theater goers plead her case, saying that she was supposedly splendid in rehearsals, and that Carlotta is her greatest fan.
The camera cuts to Christine in her dressing room with Erik. She fumbles with her hair and tells him that she’s very nervous. He tells her that she shouldn’t be, because she’ll be wonderful. There is a knock at the door, and Erik opens the full-length mirror and disappears behind it. However, his silhouette is still faintly visible behind it as he watches what happens in the dressing room. Christine asks her visitor to come in, and Philippe enters. She greets him and asks him if all this is really happening. He assures her that it is and says that everyone will now know how exceptional she is. He presents her with a red rose and kisses her.
Cut to Carlotta’s dressing room. Carlotta is evilly singing a short reprise of This Place Is Mine, while pouring different liquids and herbs into a goblet. A first, nothing happens, but the goblet soon starts smoking. Suddenly, there is a knock at the door; it is Cholet. Carlotta quickly hides the goblet, then admits him. He seems to smell something odd in the air, but he shrugs it off and nervously says that it’s opening night. They perform a good luck ritual. Carlotta says she’s going to check on Christine and exits with the goblet. Cholet agrees that this is a good idea and likewise exits.
Cut back to Christine’s dressing room. Christine is now alone. Carlotta knocks on the door and Christine admits her. Carlotta says that she just wanted to wish Christine well, and Christine confesses that she still can’t believe this is really happening Carlotta assures her that it is, and Christine thanks her for her generosity. Carlotta passes off her thanks and tells her how marvelous her voice is. Carlotta pretends to take a sip from the goblet, then puts it down with a sigh of relish. Christine asks her what the drink is, and Carlotta replies that it is just something that all the singers drink to help with nerves. The diva reminds Christine that her performance will reflect on her, as well, making Christine even more nervous. Carlotta assures her that she will do wonderfully, but once again says how nervous she is and pretends to take another sip from the goblet. Jean-Claude’s voice is heard through the door, saying that it’s five minutes until curtain. Christine hesitantly asks Carlotta if she can have some of the drink. Carlotta feigns surprise at the notion that Christine is nervous, too, and willingly gives her the goblet. Christine takes a sip, hesitates, then finishes the drink. Carlotta then says that she can’t understand how Christine sings so well, since talent like hers doesn’t come without training. Christine says she can’t tell her who her teacher is. Carlotta acts offended at Christine’s refusal to reveal her teacher and threatens to send her packing for her impudence. Not wanting to seem ungrateful, Christine confesses to Carlotta that she doesn’t know her teacher’s name. Carlotta is confused and asks what he looks like. Christine replies that she has never seen him, because he wears a mask. Carlotta is shocked and horrified, since she realizes that Christine’s teacher is the Phantom. Jean-Claude’s voice is heard again, calling everyone to the stage. Carlotta quickly excuses herself, and Christine stares into the mirror, almost crying, as she asks her maestro to forgive her.
Cut to backstage, where Cholet is overseeing the positioning of some scenery. Carlotta tells him that they must get Ledoux and armed men. Cholet asks why, and Carlotta challenges him to guess who -Christine’s teacher is. Jean-Claude calls for quiet and says that the curtain is going up.
Onstage, the ensemble is singing a hail to their queen, Titania. Oberon greets Titania as she enters. Her voice is glorious as she sings the opening, but suddenly it cracks. The audience boos, hisses, and cries that she has no experience. The conductor taps his baton for attention and begins again. Christine attempts to sing again, but her voice cracks in the same place. Backstage, Carlotta reprimands Cholet for hiring Christine, and says that it’s all his fault. The audience’s boos and hisses increase, and they begin throwing things at Christine. She is too stunned to act or even move. Philippe is heard calling for the curtain to be brought down. He rushes onstage to help Christine, and Cholet, stunned, asks what he’s doing on the stage. A company member says he’s trying to get her off the stage and calls for somebody to help him. Carriere rushes in and yells for the curtain to be brought down. Suddenly, the Phantom appears and cuts the rope holding the curtain with his sword. The Phantom calls to Christine, and Cholet calls for someone to capture him, to Carriere’s horror. Christine begs Erik to forgive her as Ledoux enters, blowing his whistle. Cholet calls for the police to shoot him, but, at that moment, the chandelier suddenly comes loose and falls, exploding when it lands. The stage is plunged into darkness, but vague shapes can still be seen. Christine is seen, wandering around. Suddenly, the shape of the Phantom appears and spirits her away. Shouts and chaos continue on the stage.
Cut to Christine’s dressing room. The Phantom enters with Christine and locks the door. Philippe’s voice is heard in the distance, saying that the Phantom brought Christine down this way. Other voices are heard, calling to go down that way, and exclaiming that the Phantom has her. In the midst of this chaos, the Phantom finds the goblet. He senses something odd, and sniffs and tastes the drink. He asks Christine if she drank from it, and she says that she did, adding that Carlotta gave it to her. The Phantom yells in fury and throws it down. Christine says she has let him down, but he replies that it wasn’t her fault. In the hallway, Philippe and the others rush toward Christine’s dressing room. Back inside, Christine hears Philippe calling to her. She cries out his name, then, overcome, she faints. As Philippe continues to bang on the door and shout to her, the Phantom scoops her up in his arms and carries her to the mirror. They disappear behind it just as Philippe breaks the door down and rushes in, calling Christine’s name. He looks around the empty room in wonder, doubtfully repeating her name.
Cut to a dark corridor, where the Phantom is seen, still holding the unconscious Christine. Philippe’s voice can still be heard, very far away, calling to Christine. Torches illuminate a staircase leading down. The Phantom descends the staircase down into the deep cellars. Then, a misty lagoon comes into view. A boat is secured to a dock at the edge of this lake, which stretches into darkness. The Phantom sings final refrain of Where in the World as the camera fades out.
Fade in on the Phantom’s domain. He is standing in the boat, slowly poling across the lake. Christine is lying in the boat, still unconscious, with one arm dangling in the water. The dark lake is slightly lit by moonlight streaming down through grating above. As he rows, Erik sings the touching Without Your Music to the slumbering Christine. During his song, Erik begins to approach a dock. We now see his kingdom. It is a veritable fairyland made of old opera sets, there seems to be a silhouette of a castle in the distance. Some acolytes are waiting to secure the boat. One of them lashes it to the dock as Erik lifts Christine in his arms and carries her inside his home. It is indeed a castle fashioned of old opera flats. He enters a room, accompanied by an acolyte carrying a candelabra. There is a four-poster bed with a gauzy canopy in the center of the room, and a portrait of a woman in a white dress on the wall. The woman looks like Christine and is wearing the same dress she wore at the Bistro! Erik carries Christine to the bed and lays her on it. The acolytes withdraw. He pulls the comforter over her as he finishes his song. He very hesitantly reaches down and strokes her hair, then, equally hesitantly, kisses her on the forehead. He gazes at her lovingly for a moment. Suddenly, he straightens with a somber look in his eyes, anticipating his coming task, and walks out of the bedroom purposefully.
Suddenly, Carriere appears out of the shadows, stopping Erik in his tracks. He angrily asks Carriere what he’s doing in his domain, saying that no one comes down without being invited. Carriere tells him they won’t let him get away with this, but Erik says they may have no choice and orders him out. Carriere tells him to send Christine back, but Erik refuses, saying the world above is not fit for her. He proclaims that she was betrayed, and that he will die before he allows her to be betrayed again. Carriere doesn’t know what he means, and Erik tells him that Christine’s voice broke because Carlotta poisoned her. Erik angrily says it was Carriere’s fault, since the opera was his responsibility, and he allowed it to be taken by people who don’t care about beauty. Carriere insists that there was nothing he could do, but Erik says that he could have burned the opera to the ground, since it is better off in ashes than under Cholet and Carlotta’s management. He can’t even contemplate the notion of sending Christine back there, saying that he is hideous, but not hideous enough to do that. Carriere says that if he doesn’t return her, they will come down with guns and dogs and bring her back and reminds him that he can’t protect him anymore. Erik says that they will need protecting, not he. Carriere asks him what he means, and he says that one push on a certain lever will end the opera permanently. Carriere can’t believe such a suggestion, but Erik says he has always lived in a tomb, so he has no fear of one now. Carriere reminds him that Christine would die as well, but Erik says that she will go to a better place. Carriere asks him if he’s sure of this, and Erik replies that he certainly is, since he couldn’t have lived this way for so long if he wasn’t. Erik than tells Carriere that he has realized he was born to live down here, only so that Christine could come and save him. She is the reason he was born. He tells Carriere not to come back to his domain ever again, since he will not need anything but Christine in the future. However, he coldly thanks him for all he’s done for him in the past. Carriere goes to the stairs and ascends. Erik then begins to sing a new, vengeful version of Where in the World. While he is singing, the acolytes bring him a selection of masks from which to choose. He surveys the masks as he finishes his song, then puts on a death’s head mask and leaves. The acolytes withdraw. We now see that Carriere was hiding halfway up the steps. He emerges from the shadows and looks around him, apparently wondering where to find Christine.
Meanwhile, Christine is just waking up. She rises and looks around her in wonder. Her eyes fall on the portrait and she walks closer to it. She gazes at the woman in astonishment, since she looks very much like here. Carriere enters the room, and Christine, sensing his presence, turns and asks if it is her maestro. Carriere says that he is not the maestro, but informs her that he will be back soon, so she must leave immediately. She asks who he is, since his face is still hidden in the shadows, and he says he is a friend. He steps out of the shadows and tells her his name, reminding her that they met at the bistro. Christine recalls this and remembers that her voice reminded him of a certain lady. Carriere informs her that it has reminded someone else of that lady, too, and that is why she is in grave danger. He tries to lead her away, but she resists and asks him where she is. He tells her that she is in the cellars of the opera, and she is shocked. She thinks she is dreaming, but Carriere assure that she isn’t and tells her that Erik brought her down. She doesn’t recognize the name, since she has known him only as maestro, but he tells her that her teacher is Erik, but most know him as the Phantom of the Opera. Naturally, Christine doesn’t want to believe this, but Carriere says that she must, unless she wants to stay down here with Erik forever. Christine is stunned by this idea, but Carriere tells her that Erik must be in love with her, because the singer of whom she reminded him is Erik’s mother. She is the woman in the portrait. Confused, Christine asks him what this place is, and Carriere tells her this is where Erik lives. She is horrified and asks him why, but he responds only by asking her ironically why he wears a mask. She tells him she doesn’t know, because he has only told her she will not see him without it. Carriere says she should be grateful for this, for if she saw him without it, she would know why he must live down here. He tells her that Erik doesn’t and never will understand her world and says she must leave. However, Christine refuses, saying that she has seen Erik’s eyes and heard his voice, and that she knows there is kindness in him. Carriere replies that there always has been, but says that his face is like death, and she must know it as well to know Erik. He insists that she must get out, saying that no one can help Erik. Christine asks him how he knows all of this, and, with great difficulty, he says it’s because he is his father.
Then, he begins to tell her the story of Belladova and Erik, while it is acted out through a ballet sequence. He begins by saying Belladova was the most perfect woman he’d ever seen, as a group of ballerinas appear and begin warming up at a barre. Carriere says she was already in the company, but only as a dancer, since no one knew that she sang. It was a time of great singing, right after the construction of the opera house. A younger version of Carriere enters and goes over to the ballet master, but his eyes are on Belladova, who bears a marked resemblance to Christine. Carriere was eighteen, and he had just come to the opera as the manager’s apprentice. Belladova dances past Carriere and their eyes meet. The moment freezes, like a memory, and the other characters disappear. Young Carriere and Belladova meet and fall in love. Carriere says they just lived for the moment, and let passion carry them away. He says she could have had anyone and wonderingly asks why it was he. Young Carriere and Belladova are seen in a field of grass by a stream, it is a beautiful afternoon. Carriere says he asked her once, and, together, he and his younger counterpart ask why Belladova loves him. Belladova just laughs, and Carriere says she then did something that made him marvel even more at the sheer wonder of her. Belladova begins to sing. Her voice sounds like Christine’s! Carriere sings along with her, expressing the beauty of her voice. He says she auditioned for the company at his urging, and Belladova is seen before several stern-looking men, who applaud her silently. Everything was perfect after that, and Belladova became the toast of Paris. Then, she informed him she was going to have his child, and said she wanted to get married. Carriere remembers how much he wanted to, but there was something he had kept from her. He was already married, something for which Belladova was not prepared. He says that she prayed to the Virgin Mary, and we see Belladova in a church, singing an invocation to the Holy Mother. A chorus of other penitents join her singing. Carriere says that God did not answer her cry or didn’t seem to. Then, she disappeared. The next time he saw her, she was buying herbs from a gypsy outside Notre Dame. Belladova is seen. She is very expectant, and she looks unkempt and slightly deranged. She starts to drink what she has bought, but Young Carriere tries to stop her. However, she takes the potion in spite of him. Carriere says she begged him to help her back to where she was living. It turned out to be these very cellars under the opera. Carriere helps deliver the baby, while the penitents are heard singing the prayer to Mary. There is a sound of a slap, and a baby crying. Carriere stares down at his son in horror. Carriere says he had never seen anything like this baby. He was as monstrous as she had been beautiful. He says that the hardest thing for him was the realization that Belladova truly didn’t see anything ugly about Erik. He was beauty itself to her, and she was the same to him. An older Erik is now seen. He is about eight years old now, but his face is still not shown. Belladova lovingly sings a chorus of You Are Music to him. Then, one night, Belladova died. She disappears, her eyes on Erik. He tried to raise Erik himself, to the best of his ability. Then, one day, Erik saw his reflection in the lake. Young Erik kneels and looks into the water. He starts back with a cry of horror. He thought he had seen a sea monster. Carriere says he made a mask for him, which made things easier for him, at least. Carriere is shown helping Young Erik put on a mask. The boy’s face is finally shown, but now with the mask over it. Erik takes up the prayer to the Virgin Mary. Then, Erik covers his face and begins to sob. Carriere says that he would cry at night, and the sobs would echo up through the shafts and cracks. Thus, the story of the Phantom was born. All sing a final chorus of the prayer to Mary, and the scene from the past fades, and we are back in the bedroom with Carriere and Christine.
Christine asks Carriere if Erik knows he is his father. Carriere says he doesn’t, he merely thinks he’s some kind of uncle. Christine is shocked and asks him why. He says it was cowardice, since he has always known he would have to desert Erik someday, and he wouldn’t want him to think it was his own father who abandoned him. He says it is now time for him to abandon his son, and that Christine must do the same. Christine refuses, but Carriere says she must, or Erik will keep her in the cellars forever. Christine says she doesn’t believe this, especially after what Carriere has just told her. She can’t believe that Carriere wants her to leave without even a word, and she says he deserves better than that from her. She firmly says she will not leave until she has spoken to Erik. Carriere says she’s making a mistake, but she bravely says she’s not afraid, because she knows his heart. Carriere gravely says that there is more to Erik than that and warns her to get out as soon as possible. He leaves, and Christine turns to gaze at Belladova’s portrait as the camera fades to a corridor in the opera above.
Philippe, Cholet, Ledoux, and some random police are walking along the corridor. Philippe is insisting that Christine was in her dressing room, but Ledoux is doubtful, since she was not in there when they entered. Philippe says it is quite plain that the Phantom has her, but Ledoux says it isn’t plain to him. Philippe angrily says that he will go down after Christine himself if the police won’t help him, and Ledoux plainly states that, if he does this, he won’t return alive. Philippe is shocked by this statement. Cholet, however, is not concerned about Christine. His only concern is keeping the whole matter quiet, since it would be bad for business.
Cut to a different corridor, outside Carlotta’s dressing room. The Phantom’s echoey voice is heard calling to Carlotta. The diva emerges from her room and asks whose there. The Phantom appears, his face and body hidden in shadows, carrying a huge bouquet of flowers. She is a little frightened by this mysterious visitor and asks who he is. He says he is and admirer, and Carlotta moves closer. She asks if the flowers are for her, and he replies that they are. She descends the stairs from her room and approaches him. He says that he has never heard a voice like her, and she thanks him. However, he adds that he is not heard such a voice, even in a barnyard. Carlotta stops short. He adds that he has never been in a barnyard, and Carlotta is frightened, since she is beginning to realize who her admirer is. He says that he can imagine, and holds out the flowers, revealing his mask. Carlotta gasps and steps back. The Phantom presents her with an ultimatum. If she stays in the opera house, she will die, and the flowers will be a death bouquet for her grave, but if she leaves his opera house, she will be allowed to live, and the flowers will be a bouquet of forgiveness. Carlotta questions his reference to the opera house as his, but he says it is indeed his opera house and his world. She says he’s close, and informs that it is her opera house, and he is the one trespassing. She orders him to get out and use the flowers for his own grave. The Phantom says that she therefore leaves him no choice, but Carlotta says he leaves her no choice and screams for help. She begins to run up the spiral staircase again, as the Phantom disappears. He pulls a dark cable from the wall, and we see that it is live and shooting sparks at the end. He says that he found what Carlotta did to Christine almost as shocking as she will find this and touches the cable to the staircase. Carlotta runs frantically, attempting to escape the electric charge headed toward her, but she isn’t fast enough. There is a sizzling sound and smoke rises as Carlotta is electrocuted. She screams loudly as the camera cuts to Christine’s bedroom.
Christine, who has gotten back into bed, turns as though startled by a nightmare. Carlotta’s scream echoes and fades away. Erik enters, now wearing a warm, pleasant mask. Christine rises and smiles at him. There is a slight pause, and Erik asks her if she slept well. She replies that she did, seeming a little nervous. Erik says he thinks it is a nice room, with a cozy bed and a water view. Christine agrees, and there is an awkward silence. Then, Erik brightly suggests they go on a picnic. Christine questions this idea, since they are deep beneath the surface of the ground, but Erik says they can stroll through the woods by the edge of the water, and he will show her his domain. He holds up a wicker basket and proposes they be off. To Christine’s astonishment, the far wall opens to reveal a beautiful forest. The trees are merely two-dimensional cut-outs from the opera, but it is beautiful, nonetheless. She links her arm through Erik’s, and they start out. They head toward a clearing, where, there are shafts of light shining down. The trees are moving slightly, as though in the wind, and birdcalls are heard. The acolytes do all of these effects, but Christine does not see them. She is dazzled by the beautiful set forest. Erik asks her if she likes his forest, and Christine says she does, but she is slightly nervous now, because she has noticed the acolytes. Erik tells her that this domain was once only empty, barren corridors, a wilderness of stone. There was no light, no love, and no kindness. Christine nervously asks him who those people are. He tells her that they are friends, the faceless of Paris, to whom he gives access to his forest. One of the acolytes does a bird call, and Erik calls her attention to it, saying it is a sparrow or perhaps a dove. They keep walking, and Erik says that there are also pheasants, deer, squirrels, geese, and rabbits in his forest, all playing in perfect harmony, like the magic music they hear. He says he thinks Christine is magic as well, but she shyly denies this. He insists that she is, however, saying that magic can’t hide from him; magic is his friend. He tells Christine that she belongs here. They walk a little farther and enter an enchanting glade. Erik says they will have their picnic here and spreads the cloth. He says that he thinks this is the most enchanted spot in his entire realm. They sit down, and he opens the picnic. He offers Christine some wine, then asks her if she likes poetry. He is delighted to learn that she does, and he very gently takes a book out of the basket. He tells her it is his favorite poet, William Blake. She is note familiar with his work, and Erik tells her she has great pleasure ahead. William Blake knows his heart, he says, and he has seen God. If she knows that book, she will know him. Christine opens the book and reads the beginning of “The Little Black Boy.” The poem is so like Erik, she is unable to finish the first stanza, but Erik finishes it for her, from memory. He takes the book from her, saying they can read more later, and asks her to sing. She says she will, but then she asks him if he will grant her a favor in exchange for a song. He says he won’t, because you should sing for love and joy, not for gain. Besides, he will grant her a favor no matter what she does. He asks her what she wishes, and she lovingly asks to see his face. He is thunderstruck. He says that she has asked him the one thing he will not do. She begs him, saying that she knows his eyes and his heart, and she doesn’t know why she shouldn’t know his face as well. He says he has only the bare semblance of a face, and no one should look at it. She insists that she could, but he begs her to stop. She says she will only stop if he says he doesn’t love her. He suddenly says they should leave, because he feels a chill, and he fears it will rain. He begins to pack the basket. Christine begs him, but he says she doesn’t know what she is asking. She insists that she does. He has done so much for her, and she only wants to grant him this one thing. He tells her that this stroll with her is the closest thing he’s ever had to bliss, and that it is enough for him. She says there is more, but he says there isn’t, for him. She boldly says she is not asking anything that has not already been done. He is stunned, and backs away from her, frightened. She warmly says that his mother looked at him and smiled, so love should be able to do the same for her. Then, she repeatedly pleads for him to show her his face in the heartfelt My True Love. At the end of her song, he turns to face her, with his back to the camera, and slowly removes the mask. She just stares at him, then she starts to back away. Finally, starting to scream in horror, she runs from him. He just drops the mask, his heart shattered. As she flees, she runs into one of the trees. This starts a domino effect, and the whole forest soon crumbles. The acolytes flee into the darkness. Seeming painfully calm, Erik picks up the mask and puts it on. Then, suddenly, he lets out a scream of despair. A scream which doubtless echoes through the whole theater. Then, with another cry, he tears down what’s left of his pretend forest. Glaring light shines down on him through a grate above, casting shadows on the floor like bars of a cell. Nothing is left of the beautiful forest. Erik’s domain now looks like what it really is, a dark, ugly sewer, full of rats, mud, rocks, and bones. Then, his heart breaking with every word, Erik starts to sing his own version of the poem Christine read just moments before, in the heartbreaking My Mother Bore Me. At the end of the song, he runs out.
Cut to Christine’s dressing room. Philippe is slumped dejectedly in a chair. Jean-Claude tells him they are doing all they can, but Philippe merely insists that the Phantom brought Christine into the dressing room. Jean-Claude shakes his head in pity. In the hall, Jean-Claude passes Cholet. Cholet asks him if he’s seen Carlotta, and he says he hasn’t. Cholet looks into the dressing room and asks Philippe if he’s seen her. The depressed count shakes his head. Cholet wanders away, calling for Carlotta. Philippe buries his head in his hands. Suddenly, a woman’s shape appears behind the mirror. It is Christine! She calls to Philippe, her voice barely audible. Philippe looks up, and Christine desperately calls to him again. He sees her ghostly outline in the mirror and jumps up, frightened. He can’t believe what he’s seeing. Christine begs him to help her get out. He runs to the mirror and tries to open it as Christine begs him to hurry. Philippe rushes to the door and calls for help. He tries to find the lever but cannot. Ledoux and Carriere enter. Carriere tells Philippe to stand aside and opens the mirror. Christine rushes into Philippe’s arms, looking pale as a ghost. Carriere asks her what happened, and she says she saw Erik’s face. Carriere tells Philippe to take her away. However, she resists, overcome with regret. She says that she thought she could look at him, and he believed in her. She suddenly says she should go back and make amends, but Carriere says it’s too late for that and once again orders Philippe to get her out. Philippe quickly obeys him. Carriere runs into a policeman and orders him to get everyone out of the building. The policeman is puzzled, but Carriere urges him to do it quickly. Meanwhile, the Phantom has entered the dressing room through the mirror. He is once again wearing a death’s head mask, but it is now jeweled, like a jade Aztec skull. He emerges from the dressing room and approaches the policeman from behind. The policeman turns and reaches for his gun. The Phantom strikes his hand with his sword, then deals him a blow on the back of his neck. The policeman collapses, and the Phantom starts to drag him toward the dressing room. Flora, Florence, and Fleure enter and see the Phantom. They scream for help and police run on. The Phantom grabs one of the policemen to use as a shield and tries to escape. The policeman he is holding is hit, and the Phantom drops him and runs off. As he flees, another shot is fired, and he is hit in the side. Carriere enters just as the Phantom flees, badly hurt. The next moment, Ledoux runs on and asks what’s happening. The police say that the Phantom was here. Ledoux is angry that they let him get away, but the policeman who shot him says that he’s wounded. Ledoux orders them to spread out. Some of them rush away, while a few others stay to attend the fallen policemen. One of the police spots some blood. Before they can follow this clue, however, Cholet enters, wailing with grief. He tells Ledoux that he found Carlotta. The police rush off in pursuit of the blood. In the gloom, two shots are fired. Ledoux and some of the police enter another area backstage. There are set pieces scattered everywhere, and the police survey it nervously, with their guns drawn. Carriere is with them, afraid for the Phantom’s life. Ledoux sees some more blood and says the Phantom can’t be far away. Another gunshot is heard offstage, and the police rush off after it. The Phantom’s voice calls to Carriere weakly. Carriere looks around, and the Phantom’s voice says he’s back behind some scenery, urging him to hurry. Ledoux and the police rush back on. Ledoux says he must be there, because there’s blood everywhere, and orders his men to search behind the scenery. Carriere quickly says that he already looked, and the Phantom isn’t here. Ledoux orders his men to come with him and look higher up.
When they have left, Carriere quickly moves aside some sets and steps through them. He sees Erik lying against some props, badly wounded. He calls to his son desperately, but Erik says he’s alright. Carriere gets down beside his son and cradles his head gently. Erik winces in pain and asks him if he can get him back down to the cellars. Carriere says that he can, but they’ll have to wait. Some policemen walk by, and they wait silently until they have passed. Carriere asks Erik if there is a way down from where they are. Erik replies that there is one nearby, but they’ll have to cross the stage. Carriere looks around. There are policemen everywhere, so they must wait to move. Erik coughs up some blood, and Carriere just looks at him. There is nothing they can do for the time being but wait. Erik seems to have gotten enough strength to speak now, and he apologizes to Carriere for getting angry with him earlier. Carriere says he understands. Erik shifts to a more comfortable position, with some difficulty. He says that, all in all, being born wasn’t so bad, since he could hear music, and he heard Christine. Carriere tells him that Christine didn’t mean to hurt him, and Erik says he knows that. She merely asked too much of him, but it wasn’t her fault, because she thought she loved him. Carriere assures him that she does, but Erik says no. She did, but only for a moment. However, he concludes, a moment like that wasn’t so bad, and he thinks it was worth living for. Carriere says she was unprepared for him, but Erik says that she was unprepared for ugliness, and, for a moment, he was as well. He says that he’s glad she saw him, because it was a fitting end to his illusions. There is a brief pause, and he takes off his death’s head mask. Underneath it, he is still wearing his plain mask. He asks Carriere if he’d like to see his face, and Carriere says he saw it when he was a child. He asks Carriere if he knew his mother well, and Carriere says he did. Suddenly, Erik asks him if he loved her. He says he did, and Erik expresses surprise that his mother let him see his face. Carriere says she thought his face was beautiful. Erik is slightly upset by this, and Carriere apologizes. However, Erik says he knew that she thought that. He thinks he can remember her expression. He gazes off, remembering. Then, Carriere finally reveals the long-kept secret to him in the beautiful You Are My Own. Erik sings with him and reveals that he has known he is his father for a long time. In the middle of the song they speak to each other briefly. Erik asks him what he thought of his face, and he ironically says it could have been better. Erik recalls the time when he saw his reflection and thought it was a sea monster. He says it was ironic, because that’s what he had seen. For a while he thought he was just dreaming, and Carriere says he thought that, too, for a while. Erik jokes that he thought it wasn’t a good face for a tenor, and Carriere agrees it wasn’t even good for a baritone. However, Erik asks if his voice is good, and Carriere assures him it is. With a better face, he would have had a great career. They begin singing again, and Carriere promises Erik that he will never let him be found or displayed. When they finish singing, Carriere says he will help Erik back to the cellars.
However, at that moment, Philippe’s voice is heard offscreen, saying he has found the Phantom. Philippe appears with Christine, and she calls out to Erik. He turns at the sound of her voice and calls to her. Philippe calls for the police to hurry. The Phantom has gotten to his feet, and he advances on Philippe, telling him to let Christine go. Carriere tries to stop him, but he breaks free and says that Christine has seen his face, so she is his. Philippe tells Christine to run, but she refuses. The Phantom draws his sword and Philippe once again urges Christine to run. Christine tries to tell the Phantom that Philippe means him no harm, but the Phantom just repeats his order to let Christine go. He lunges at Philippe, but the count jumps out of the way. Pain from his wound makes the Phantom lose his focus for a moment, and Philippe tackles him and knocks the sword out of his hand. They struggle, and voices are heard offscreen, calling that they’ve found the Phantom. Police rush on, and the Phantom breaks away from Philippe and starts running up some stairs. Philippe pursues him, and they resume their struggle on the stairs. Ledoux orders his men not to shoot, since they could hit the count, and says they can take him. Some of the police start ascending the stairs. The Phantom once again breaks free of Philippe and runs up to the catwalk. Philippe starts to pursue him. Meanwhile, Christine is telling Carriere that she said she could look at him and he trusted her. She betrayed his trust and let him down, and she feels it’s all her fault. The police begin to ascend from the other side. Ledoux shouts to Philippe to let the police handle it. Philippe pauses. Meanwhile, the Phantom sees a policeman coming toward him with his gun drawn. He tackles him and manages to get his gun away. Now holding the gun on the policemen, the phantom starts to back away. However, he backs right into Philippe, and they begin struggling again. Their fight brings them closer and closer to the edge, until Philippe falls off. Christine calls out in horror, but Philippe manages to catch himself. As he dangles from the edge by his hands, the Phantom begins to break his grip. One of the policemen shoots, but Ledoux order him not to, since he could hit the count. Christine calls to Philippe, and the Phantom looks down at her. She begs him not to, and he hesitates. Philippe is now dangling by one hand, and he is about to fall. Suddenly, Erik reaches down, takes Philippe’s hand, and pulls him up. Christine calls to Philippe in relief. Erik looks down at Christine then turns and looks at Philippe. For a moment, nothing happens, the two just stare at each other. Then, Phillipe starts to back away. He will not try to capture or hurt the Phantom again. Two policemen try to shoot the Phantom, but their shots ricochet off the catwalk. Ledoux once again orders them not to shoot, since the shots could ricochet and hit one of the policemen. He says that they can get closer and orders him men to go up on both sides. Christine starts to ascend the stairs, begging the police not to shoot the Phantom. She asks them to let her speak to him, but a few police rush right past her, so she turns and goes back down, helpless to do anything. Suddenly, a policeman asks what the Phantom’s doing. They all look up and see the Phantom standing on the edge of the catwalk. He looks like he’s about to jump to his death, but he’s holding a rope. Christine can’t believe what he seems to be planning. The Phantom swings across toward a railing on the opposite side. He almost catches it but misses. He begins to swing back and forth helplessly, high above them. Ledoux calls that he can’t escape, and they can get him alive. Carriere is horrified. Policemen start to call to each other, saying they can get him alive and asking where the rigging is so they can lower him in. The police close in, planning to grab his rope with poles and other ropes. The Phantom, trapped and terrified, calls to Carriere to help him, saying that he promised him. Carriere looks around him, not knowing what to do. The Phantom’s rope is swinging less with each second, and he is about to be caught. The Phantom begs Carriere to help him again. Carriere runs to a nearby policeman and grabs his gun. The man struggles, but Carriere points the gun at him and orders him to stand back. Carriere looks up at the Phantom, and his son encourages him to do it. Horrified by what he’s about to do, Carriere points the gun at his son. Ledoux yells to Carriere, asking him what he’s doing. Carriere can’t bring himself to shoot. Ledoux begins to run toward him, telling him not to do it, since they can get him alive. The Phantom begs Carriere to do it. Then, just before Ledoux reaches Carriere or his men reach the Phantom, Carriere shoots. The Phantom falls down the rope to the stage, calling to Christine.
There is screaming from all around, but mostly from Christine. She rushes to Erik’s side, calling out to him. Carriere begs Ledoux to get his men back, saying he’ll explain later, but Ledoux says he can’t. Carriere whispers something to him, and Ledoux stares at him in horror and compassion, then tells his men to get back. They withdraw, leaving Christine, Carriere, and Philippe alone with Erik. Erik calls to Christine, his voice barely audible. He reaches up and softly touches her face, and she reaches toward his mask. He tries to stop her as she lifts the mask, but he is too weak. His back is too the camera, so we still can’t see his face. Christine gazes down at him and smiles lovingly. Then, she begins to sing You Are Music, just as his mother did when he was young. He says her name one last time, and she kisses him on the forehead. Then, with a gentle sigh, he dies. Christine gazes down at him, then slowly pulls his mask back on. Philippe comes over and gently lifts her to her feet, then leads her away. Carriere falls to his knees and cradles his son in his arms as the camera fades out.
What you have just read is the full synopsis of the play, exactly as it is on the stage, but told in film terms. However, I must make a few changes, both as a self-regulator and as a filmmaker, before this story is ready for the screen. Ready, here we go!
- Throughout the play, several blasphemous expressions, such as “Good God” and “Oh my God,” are used. Rather than going through the script, cutting them out one-by-one, I will just make note of them here. Any time one of these unacceptable expressions is used, it will be replaced with an acceptable expression such as, “Good heavens,” “Oh my word” “Goodness gracious” or “Oh, no.”
- When Christine first meets Flora, Florence, and Fleure, Florence asks where Philippe found her. Christine replies, “On the street.” Florence jokes to her cohorts, “He’s getting desperate.” This is unacceptable and must be changed. Instead, Florence will ask how he met her. Christine would reply that she was selling music on the avenue. Florence’s quip may remain the same, since the suggestive nature has been removed.
- Then, Fleure asks her if Philippe said she had nice legs. Christine says no, he heard her sing. This is suggestive and must be changed. Instead, Fleure will say, “Let me guess, did he tell you you had the most beautiful voice he’d ever heard?” Christine will then reply, “Well, he did say he liked my voice.” Fleure will say, “And he asked if you’d like lessons.” The rest of the scene will remain the same.
- In This Place is Mine, one lyric goes, “From every toilet bowl to every leading role, this place is mine.” The italicized words are unacceptable and will be changed to slipper sole.
- In the scene right before the Phantom Fugue, the discovery of Joseph Buquet’s body must not be too grotesque. The corpse will fall out of the armoire as in the script, as long as the eyes are not open, there is no blood, and we don’t focus on the corpse unduly.
- In the scene in Carlotta’s dressing room, before The Fairy Queen, when she is making the poisoned drink for Christine, she pulls the vial with the final ingredient out of her top. This is unacceptable and will be changed. Instead, she will pull the vial from her sleeve.
- In this same scene, Carlotta and Cholet perform a good luck ritual which involves spitting past each other and bumping their posteriors together. This is unacceptable and must be eliminated. Instead, they should merely say the common opera good luck wish “Toie! Toie! Toie!”
- The next problem occurs during The Fairy Queen, when Philippe rushes onstage to help Christine. Cholet exclaims, “What the –‘s he doing out there?” I’m sure you all know what the dash represents, but, just in case, suffice it to say he didn’t say heaven. The line will be changed to, “What is he doing out there?”
- In the same scene, Carriere cries, “Bring down the curtain! Who the –‘s in charge of the curtain? This line will be changed to “Who on earth’s in charge of the curtain?”
- During the ballet sequence, in the scene where Carriere learns Belladova can sing, the script says they’re lying by a stream. This is unduly suggestive, so they will merely be sitting by the stream.
- The next problem is later in the ballet sequence, when Belladova drinks herbs from a gypsy woman. Although it is not plainly stated, this seems to suggest an attempted abortion. Instead, Young Carriere will just find her near Notre Dame, very weak and in labor. As before, she will beg him to help her, and he will bring her back to the cellars of the opera and help her deliver her baby.
- In the synopsis which can be found in the booklet which comes with the original cast recording, which I believe was written by Arthur Kopit, he refers to Erik using the phrase, “as hideously deformed as their relationship had become.” I think this is an important message to add to the moral of the story. In his narration of the flashback, Carriere says, “His face was like nothing I had ever seen. As beautiful as she had been, that’s how monstrous Erik was.” After this, he will add the above-mentioned phrase, “As hideously deformed as our relationship had become.”
- At the end of his song, My Mother Bore Me, when the lyrics no longer are verses from “The Little Black Boy,” Erik is singing to the absent Christine. He sings, “I damn you when I love you, and I love you and I damn you, my Christine!” The italicized word is forbidden and will be changed to curse. This is really more appropriate, since he is really saying his love curses her.
- In the scene between Erik and Carriere, after he’s been shot, Erik coughs up some blood. This is unduly violent and will be changed to a plain cough.
- In the scene between Carlotta and Joseph Buquet, the dialogue is slightly different on the original cats recording than in the script. In the film, we will use the dialogue from the recording. However, Joseph Buquet will merely cry out at the Phantom’s face and scream in terror, rather than saying the few extra lines heard on the recording.
- Rather than having a trained singer do Carlotta’s singing, since this might make her sound too good in comparison to Christine, Bette Davis will do her own singing. If someone must be brought in to overdub the especially high notes, particularly the one at the end of This Place is Mine, we will do so.
- During the Bistro sing, Carlotta’s line announcing that they will only sing songs about Paris differs from the script in the recording. Once again, the line will be as it is on the recording.
- Although the film would be made in black and white, the ballet sequence would be filmed in Technicolor, to add to the dreamy quality.
- In You Are My Own, since we need a good singer to match Nelson Eddy, John Barrymore will be overdubbed, unless he proves to have a hidden singing talent.
- During the dialogue in the middle of You Are My Own, Erik says, “Not a good face for a tenor, I remember thinking!” Carriere replies, “Not even for a baritone.” Since Nelson Eddy is a baritone, this dialogue will be altered slightly. Instead, Erik will say, “Not a good face for an opera singer, I remember thinking.” Carriere will reply, “No, unfortunately, not even for a baritone.”
- According to the script, in the last scene, Carriere begs Ledoux to get his men back and leave him with Erik. Ledoux says he can’t, so Carriere whispers something to him, and it is enough for Ledoux to understand. However, in a video I saw of the last scene, one production had Carriere actually say out loud, “He’s my son.” I found this to be even more touching, so it will be done this way in the film.
- At the end, Philippe leads Christine away and it ends with Carriere cradling Erik’s body in his arms. In the film, this will be changed slightly. When Ledoux tells his men to get back, Philippe will also withdraw respectfully. Then, after Erik dies and Christine replaces his mask, she will remain cradling him in her arms, with Carriere kneeling nearby, overcome with emotion.
Nelson Eddy as Erik/The Phantom of the Opera
Jeanette MacDonald as Christine Daeé
Bette Davis as Carlotta
Allan Jones as the Count Philippe de Chandon
John Barrymore as Gerard Carriere
Frank Morgan as Alain Cholet
Grant Mitchell as Inspector Ledoux
Jimmy Conlin as Jean-Claude
Walter Kingsford as the Minister of Culture
Lynne Carver as Flora
Martha O’Driscoll as Florence
Virginia Grey as Fleure
Curt Bois as Joseph Buquet
This concludes my transfer of Phantom from the stage to the screen. What do you think? If their timelines had crossed, do you think that this would have been a great movie? Although, if it really had been made, MGM would probably would have made more changes, I think the script is essentially great the way it is! I hope you will now go and listen to the great score of Phantom. You can hear the whole original cast recording on YouTube here. I hope you enjoyed my phantasized movie and that you can imagine it as vividly as I can. Thank you to all my participants who joined me in celebrating the timeless tale of the Phantom and Christine. Happy 110th anniversary to The Phantom of the Opera! May you continue to excite people’s imaginations for years to come!
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Come back in October for the third year of our annual Code celebration, The Third Annual Breening Blogathon! It is running from October 11-14 in honor of Joseph I. Breen’s 131st birthday. Whether you want to breen a film, review a new Code movie, or analyze some aspect of the years when Hollywood was governed by the Code, this is your chance to write about the topics which we always cover. What are your thoughts on the Code? This is your chance to play PCA-member or pretend that you are a member of PEPS. Let’s make this our most successful blogathon yet!
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