This was the first film version of Gaston Leroux’s novel. It tried to be as faithful as possible to the novel but the movie did make a couple of changes. The most major change is the ending. I read the novel and I absolutely hated the ending. The story has the Phantom win – he has the girl, the heroes are trapped and then because he gets kissed for the first time in his life, he gives up and dies. Dumbest ending ever. In 1925, preview audiences agreed and forced Universal Studios to change the ending to something more entertaining.
The movie also featured an early two colour Technicolor scene where the Phantom appears at masked ball dressed as Poe’s Red Death (from The Masque of Red Death). What also makes this the best version is Lon Chaney’s version of the Phantom. It’s a classic image – terrifying and creepy. There have been countless remakes, parodies and knock-offs but this is the best and definitive version.