When one gets ideas for Musicals, they often are inspired by Film or True Events or the one that has always been used the most…Books. Many of the most popular musicals on the 20th and 21st Century are based on some pieces of literature either forgotten or highly recognized. One of the more recognized of recent years is a novel by Gaston Leroux from 1910 entitled “The Phantom of the Opera”

The Novel that has been adapted to film multiple times in the early 1920’s and 1930’s and eventually became an inspiration for one of the most popular musicals of all time by Andrew Lloyd Webber in the 1980’s. The musical has a great success and is personal of my favorites in the Theater circuit with great art direction, costumes, and of course the songs…BUT…That isn’t what I’m here to talk about today. I’m here to look at the first musical adaptation of the novel that came out in 1974 by Brian De Palma and has been a massive cult classic Musical just as Campy as Flash Gordon or Blood for Dracula. Before we had Rocky Horror Picture Show, We were given The Phantom of the Paradise.

A Songwriter by the name of Winslow Leach (William Finley) gets the attention of the mysterious Record Producer Swan (Paul Williams) who steals Winslow’s song “Faust” believing it will be perfect to open his new theater “The Paradise”. Winslow tries to contact Swan about it, but is eventually arrested, badly injured, and is presumed dead. Sometime later, Winslow confronts Swan who offers him a deal to right music for Swan and he will keep Winslow’s name on it.

Much like the Phantom, the film also tells a bit of a Love-Triangle between Swan, Winslow, and a singer named Phoenix who originally caught Winslow’s attention and believes she is perfect to sing the piece. Throughout the film, Swan and Winslow conflict over Phoenix and her singing with multiple different singers replacing her.

The film not only is an adaptation of the Phantom of the Opera, but it also carries elements and plot points from Faust and The Picture of Dorian Gray. The mixtures of stories are often contained with the two characters. Winslow carried the Phantom plot, while Swan had Faust and Dorian Gray. Plus it has allusions to The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Frankenstein, and a minor parody of Psycho.

It is definitely one of the most Unique Adaptations out there…In a good way.

The characters throughout the film resemble the majority of the characters of the Phantom of the Opera. Winslow and Swan split the role of the Phantom into the two characters. Winslow represented the obsessive side that writes the music and who also loves Phoenix, while Swan was the Manipulative side of the Phantom. Plus the two also have elements of some other characters. Winslow had elements of Raoul within him, seeming to make him like a fallen hero; while Swan also represented Andre and Firmin, the Opera Managers from the book. With the two similar yet different characters, they came out as my favorite characters from the film.

The rest of the characters are pretty obvious who they resemble. Phoenix is the equivalent of Christine Daae, except she doesn’t have as much development as her though. Then there’s Beef….

Aside from Swan and Winslow, Beef was probably one of the better characters basically because of the over the top camp factor of the whole character. He was the Equivalent of Carlotta if you gave her a Glam rock David Bowie-esque outfit as well a stereotypical gay accent but comes out singing like Meat Loaf. (Plus his name is probably a parody of Meat Loaf.)

There were many characters that were in the book that they left out but that didn’t leave much leave a difference of the film since this is a very loose adaptation of the book.

The Songs in the film were written by one of my favorite Songwriters and one of the main actors in the film, Paul Williams.

The main song that is played and sung by multiple people is Winslow’s song “Faust” which tells the story of Faust and is one of the major plot points throughout the film and to be fair, Faust is the best song in the whole film. Winslow’s singing voice originally was William Finley, but after he became the Phantom, it changed to one that is Paul William’s singing voice. That’s ok to me since Swan doesn’t sing the film anyway.

A bunch of the songs were sung by a Band which changed their appearances throughout the film. They started off as a Rockabilly style band called the Juicy Fruits, then a Surf Rock band called the Beach Bums, and then a Doom Metal style band called the Undeads. Phoenix and Beef get songs as well in the film but they’re much later into it. They are still good, but I still think Faust is the best in the film.

FINAL THOUGHTS: I Love this Movie. This is probably one of my favorite musicals as well. I loved the Songs, I love the Camp Factor of it similar to Rocky Horror Picture Show, I liked the majority of the characters, it was a very creative adaptation of Gaston Leroux’s Story, and it definitely should be seen by more people. I Highly recommend seeing this…In fact, why are you still reading this? Go Watch The Movie!

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