PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE
PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE-United States-1974
Written and Directed by Brian De Palma
Do you want to know the worst thing that can happen to a critic? It’s when they watch a movie or a play or read a book or listen to music and they don’t have an opinion one way or the other about the experience. They watched it, read it, listened to it and that’s it, done. Nothing moved them to tears or made them laugh. No character touched their hearts with love or filled their souls with hatred. The entire thing was just…there…and it was nothing more. For a long time I’ve wondered about when that was going to happen to me and how I was going to deal with it when it did. Well, that moment has arrived and it comes in the form of “Phantom of the Paradise”. The whole time I was watching I was completely disinterested and the reason for this is because I’ve seen it all somewhere before in parts easier to swallow. There is no originality to the film. The film rips off elements of “The Phantom of the Opera”, “Faust” and “The Picture of Dorian Gray“. Add to that parts lifted from “Frankenstein”, “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” and even The Who’s “Tommy”, “The Twilight Zone” and “The Godfather” and what you have is one seriously effed-up mess of a motion picture. The only things about the film that I found even remotely interesting were a star-making performance for Jessica Harper (“Suspiria”) and the formations of some of the trademarks (split-screen, voyeurism) that director Brian De Palma (“Carrie”) would work into his later films. “Phantom of the Paradise” was De Palma’s next film after “Sisters”. When I was a kid, “Sisters” scared the shit out of me. As an adult “Phantom of the Paradise” merely bored it out of me.
One more thing; my friend Ben Kenber sent me an article he wrote reminding me of one little detail that I missed in “Phantom” : the soundtrack. The words and music were written by Paul Williams, wh0 portrays Swan. Williams has written songs for Three Dog Night, The Carpenters, Helen Reddy, Barbra Streisand and The Muppets just to name a few. There’s a reason he is referred to as a legend in the music business. His amazing words and music for Phantom of the Paradise are the reason I’m raising my rating for the film.
Jessica Harper beat out Linda Ronstadt for the part of Phoenix.
Much of the movie deals with birds: The names Phoenix and Swan, the Phantom’s bird-like costume, Phoenix’s dress after her first appearance, her feather jacket, Swan’s bird vest, Beef’s bird tail during his number. Even the logo for Death Records is a bird. A possible nod (or rip-off) to Hitchcock’s Psycho, perhaps?
When Swan (Paul Williams) is adjusting Winslow’s voice, the singer is not William Finley but Paul Williams. This makes it a little in-joke when Swan announces that the voice is “perfect”.
Gerrit Graham was so sick the day that the “Life at Last” scene was filmed that he could hardly walk.
- The Phantom of the Opera (jmountswritteninblood.com)
- ‘Phantom of the Paradise’ Tribute Concert & Paul Williams live at Cinefamily! (dangerousminds.net)
- Los Angeles: A PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE Tribute Concert… With Paul Williams! (badassdigest.com)
- ‘Paul Williams Still Alive’ opens at NYC’s Anjelika this weekend; Paul doing Q&As at screenings (brooklynvegan.com)
- My Recent Mini Obsession Brian De Palma’s Movies (moviesinpurgatory.com)
- Quint chats life, addiction and documentary filmmaking with Paul Williams Still Alive team Stephen Kessler and Paul Williams! (aintitcool.com)
- The Good Guys and Bad Guys That I’ve Been: Paul Williams on ‘Paul Williams Still Alive’ (artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com)
- Live Streaming At 6PM Pacific: Paul Williams Q&A And PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE Tribute Concert (badassdigest.com)
- Phantom of the Paradise (superradnow.wordpress.com)
- Malick and De Palma lead Venice (bbc.co.uk)
- ICY Challenge: 1 – I Hate Phantoms! (maple-news.com)
- Palace Theatre to show movies again (lfpress.com)
- Electric Violin “Phantom of the Opera” by Lindsey Stirling (thecontrapuntist.com)
- ‘Phantom’ to overtake Temecula stage (swrnn.com)
- The Fabled Coast by Sophia Kingshill and Jennifer Westwood – review (guardian.co.uk)
- Paul Williams Still Alive (superradnow.wordpress.com)
- Behringer Xenyx 502 phantom power (gearslutz.com)
Posted on 08/05/2012, in Films featuring the Devil, Films of Brian De Palma, Films Released in 1974, Movies and tagged Barbra Streisand, Brian DePalma, Gerrit Graham, Helen Reddy, Jessica Harper, Linda Ronstadt, Paul Williams, Phantom of the Paradise, Picture of Dorian Gray, Swan, William Finley. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a Comment.