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This Technicolor retelling of the Gaston Leroux "grand guignol" classic The Phantom of the Opera has a little more opera than phantom, but that's because the stars are soprano Susannah Foster and tenor Nelson Eddy. Claude Rains carries the acting honors on his shoulders, playing a pathetic orchestra violinist who worships aspiring opera-singer Foster from afar. The girl is unaware that Rains has secretly been financing her music lessons with instructor Leo Carrillo. When he runs out of money, Rains attempts to sell the concerto that he's been working on all his life. Mistakenly believing that his precious concerto has been stolen from him, Rains attacks and kills the music publisher he holds responsible. Terrified, the publisher's mistress throws a pan full of acid into Rains' face. Rains runs screaming into the night, and is not heard from for the next reel or so. Soon afterward, the Paris Opera house is plagued by a series of mysterious accidents. The managers are informed via letter that the "accidents" will continue if Foster is not immediately promoted to leading roles. Only after reigning diva Jane Farrar is drugged into incapacitation is Foster given her big break. Farrar accuses Foster's boyfriend, police inspector Nelson Eddy, of doping her in order to advance Foster's career. Farrar is later strangled, and Eddy is accused of the crime. The culprit is, of course, Rains, who now poses as the masked-and-caped "phantom". Maniacally determined that no one will impede Foster's success, Rains causes a huge chandelier to crash down on the opera audience when Foster fails to appear onstage (she'd been kept from performing by police-chief Edgar Barrier, who hoped in this manner to flush The Phantom out of hiding). A chase through the catacombs below the opera house ensues, with Rains holding Foster prisoner. When Rains briefly lets down his guard, the tremulous Foster removes his mask. It's "yecccch," all right, but nowhere near as frightening as the unmasking scene in the silent Lon Chaney version of Phantom of the Opera. The same can be said for the rest of this 1943 remake, though in fairness it appears as though the film wasn't really designed to scare anyone, but instead to serve as a suspense yarn with musical interludes. Hume Cronyn makes his second film appearance in Phantom in a microscopic role. The huge sets designed for this picture were hastily reused for the 1944 Universal melodrama The Climax, starring Boris Karloff and (again) Susannah Foster. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide
Includes - Batman (1989), MPAA Rating: PG-13 Batman Returns (1992), MPAA Rating: PG-13 Batman Forever (1995), MPAA Rating: PG-13 Batman & Robin (1997), MPAA Rating: PG-13 Batman Behind the black cowl, Gotham City superhero Batman is really millionaire philanthropist Bruce Wayne (Michael Keaton), who turned to crimefighting after his parents were brutally murdered before his eyes. The only person to share Wayne's secret is faithful butler Alfred (Michael Gough). The principal villain in Batman is The Joker (Jack Nicholson) who'd been mob torpedo Jack Napier before he was horribly disfigured in a vat of acid. The Joker's plan to destroy Batman and gain control of Gotham City is manifold. First he distributes a line of booby-trapped cosmetics, then he goes on a destruction spree in the Gotham Art Museum while the music of Prince blasts away in the background, and finally he orchestrates an all-out campaign to win the hearts and minds of the Gothamites, hoping to turn them against the Cowled One. Meanwhile, reporter Vicki Vale (Kim Basinger) becomes the love of Batman's life-which of course plays right into the Joker's hands. Photographed by Roger Pratt, designed by Anton Furst, and scored by Tim Burton's favorite composer Danny Elfman, Batman was a monstrous box-office hit, making $100 million in the first ten days of release--$82,800,000 in North America alone. Incidentally, Billy Dee Williams' comparatively small role as DA Harvey Dent was originally designed to set up the sequel, wherein Dent was to convert into master criminal Two-Face; but by the time the producers got around to that character in 1995's Batman Forever, Two-Face was played by Tommy Lee Jones. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide Batman Returns In this first sequel to 1989's Batman, the Caped Crusader (Michael Keaton) is up against the Penguin (Danny DeVito), the hideously deformed scion of a wealthy Gotham City family. The Penguin plots with evil businessman Max Schreck (Christopher Walken) to become mayor and then turn Gotham into a cathedral of crime. Upon overhearing these plans, Schreck's mousy secretary Selena Kyle (Michelle Pfeiffer) is tossed from a high-rise window by her boss. Rescued by a covey of kittens, Selena transforms into the leather-clad Catwoman. In this guise, she teams with the Penguin and Schreck to divvy up their ill-gotten gains and help discredit Batman-but she also has her own scores to settle. Paul "Pee-Wee Herman" Reubens, Vincent Schiavelli and Jan Hooks play significant bits, while Pat Hingle and Michael Gough make returns as, respectively, Commissioner Gordon and Alfred the Butler. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide Batman Forever Director Joel Schumacher inherited the Batman franchise from Tim Burton and began steering it in the campier direction of the Sixties television show with this third installment. First-time Batman/Bruce Wayne (Val Kilmer), in his only outing as the Caped Crusader, is effectively brooding as he ponders strange dreams about his parents' death and escapes his own near-demise at the hands of Two-Face (Tommy Lee Jones), a former district attorney driven insane and turned into a master criminal when a gangster throws acid in his face. Meanwhile, as sexy psychologist Chase Meridian (Nicole Kidman) tries to analyze and seduce both Bruce Wayne and Batman, Wayne Enterprises employee Edward Nygma (Jim Carrey) reacts badly to getting fired, using his self-invented mind-energy device to transform into the super-intelligent Riddler. The Riddler teams up with Two-Face to bring down Batman and drain the minds of Gotham City residents with his device, while Batman gets some much-needed help in the form of circus performer Dick Grayson (Chris O'Donnell), out for vengeance after being orphaned by Two-Face. ~ Don Kaye, All Movie Guide Batman & Robin This was the third follow-up to Tim Burton's Batman (1989), the original revisionist look at the Gotham City legend, as well as the second in the Batman series directed by J
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