The Phantom of the Opera appears in an aspect ratio of 1.37:1 on this 4K UHD Disc. This turned into a very appealing image.
Overall sharpness worked well. Technicolor movies could lean a bit soft, but definition remained pretty tight and concise here, with a good level of general accuracy.
On a few brief occasions, notable edge haloes materialized. It seemed unclear if these stemmed from the source or some “artificial sharpening”, but they popped up too infrequently to matter much.
I saw no signs of jagged edges or moiré effects, and a nice layer of grain implied an absence of egregious digital noise reduction. In terms of print flaws. I saw a couple small specks but nothing major.
The movie’s Technicolor palette worked nicely, as the hues seemed vivid and rich. The 4K brought out the tones in a lively manner, and HDR added range and impact to the hues.
Blacks came across with pleasing depth and richness, and low-light elements offered nice clarity and smoothness. HDR gave whites and contrast extra emphasis. Only the minor haloes and print defects knocked this often excellent presentation down to a “B+”.
As for the DTS-HD MA monaural soundtrack it seemed more than competent for its age. Music showed reasonable range, though I thought the opera scenes could sound a little rough at times, primarily related to vocals. Still, the musical elements offered fairly good punch given their vintage.
Dialogue also could sound a little dense, but the lines lacked edginess and remained intelligible. Effects felt accurate enough and lacked distortion.
No hiss, hum or other source flaws marred the audio. Outside of some shrill opera music, this was a pretty good soundtrack for its age.
How did the 4K UHD compare to the Blu-ray from 2013? Audio seemed identical.
The 4K’s visuals offered an obvious improvement, though, as it looked cleaner and better defined than the Blu-ray. It also sported more dynamic colors and less intrusive/frequent edge haloes. This became a substantial upgrade.
The Blu-ray’s extras repeat here, and we launch with an audio commentary from film historian Scott MacQueen. He gives us a running, screen-specific take on the history of the story, other productions of Phanton, details about the making of the picture and basic biographies of many of its participants.
MacQueen packs in a ton of information into the film's 93-minute running time. Altogether he brings a compelling and detailed commentary that provides some excellent information.
MacQueen also functions as the host of The Opera Ghost: A Phantom Unmasked, a 51-minute, 15-second documentary about the film. Actually, that should state "about the films", since the show provides surprisingly little information about the 1943 edition of Phantom itself.
Instead, we get a strong history of the book and the 1925 production plus details about such things as the famous - and still-in-use - set and later Phantoms.
In addition to MacQueen's comments as host, “Opera Ghost” features film historians Paul M. Jensen and Rudy Behlmer, actor/dancer/Universal founder’s niece Carla Laemmle, actors Susanna Foster and Turhan Bey, and Claude Rains' daughter Jessica. We learn a lot about various iterations of Phantom in this informative piece.
In addition to the film’s trailer, we get a five-minute, 46-second running collection of Production Photographs.
It includes posters, publicity shots and images from the set. These weren’t rescanned for Blu-ray so they don’t look as good as they should, but they still provide some interesting elements.
With 100 Years of Universal: The Lot, we find a nine-minute, 27-second featurette that gives us comments from filmmakers Steven Spielberg, Peyton Reed, Ivan Reitman, Peter Berg, John Landis, Ron Howard, Michael Mann, Phil Alden Robinson, and John Carpenter, NBC Universal Archives and Collections director Jeff Pirtle, Universal Studios Hollywood tour guide Molly Orr, and actors Dan Aykroyd, Paul Rudd and Meryl Streep.
This one takes us around the Universal Studios locations and tells us a little about movies made there. What does any of this have to do with Phantom? Not much.
Midway through a short discussion of Universal horror, we get a quick snippet from the film and a reference to the “Phantom Stage” but that’s it, as no one discusses the 1943 flick at all.
Despite the featurette’s disconnect from Phantom, it seems pretty fun. While it aims to promote the greatness that is Universal, it’s still light and likable.
A second disc provides a Blu-ray copy of Phantom. It offers the same extras as the 4K.
The 1943 edition of Phantom of the Opera provides an
intermittently-interesting but generally dull and bloodless retelling of the classic tale. Even the presence of the great Claude Rains can't spice up the proceedings. The 4K UHD offers strong visuals along with pretty good audio and supplements. Phantom ends up as one of the less memorable of the “major” Universal monster films.
Note that as of January 2023, the 4K UHD version of Phantom of the Opera appears only as part of a four-movie “Universal Classic Monsters: Icons of Horror Collection”. In addition to Phantom, it also includes The Mummy (1932), The Bride of Frankenstein and Creature from the Black Lagoon.
To rate this film, visit the prior review of PHANTOM OF THE OPERA