Michael E’s Review:
Magic and murder are not a good mix in.
The Phantom of Paris: Not even an escape artist (John Gilbert) can runaway from a murder rap.
The Phantom of Paris (1931)- Michael E’s Rating *** Stars
Runtime: 74 minutes
Director: John S. Robertson
In my previous John Gilbert rant for the 1930 movie “Way for a Sailor,” this critic blasted him. His painful voice grated on me like a knife cutting through wood. This movie however, changed my mind again on how I feel about his movies.
Here, he plays Bibi (in a very convincing performance), an escape artist. His shows are a huge hit in France as his stunts are death defying. He can break out of chains, submerge himself in a tank full of water, ala Harry Houdini, and still come away unscathed. His close friend, Cecile (Leila Hyams) has always loved him and yearned for the day they can be together. Eventually, Bibi’s affections for her are reciprocated despite the objections of Cecile’s father, Bourrelier (C. Aubrey Smith). Bourrelier wanted the Marquis Du Touchais (Ian Keith) to marry Cecile, but her advances were nothing more than friendship. Situations happen, a murder is committed and Bibi is to blame. But the question is, did he do it?
John Gilbert stands out as Bibi, as he showed a range I never thought this viewer would see. He was sensitive like a loyal puppy dog, to downright loathsome. It made me a fan and a believer in his work again.
I do not have a quick rant as I thought the stunts were fine, the acting solid, the story sincere. Welcome back Mr. Gilbert.
1/2 Terrible movie (Bomb)
* Not a good movie, just missed being a bomb
*1/2 Bad Movie
** Boring movie
*** Good, solid movie
***1/2 Great movie, just missed being a classic
**** Classic movie
Movie Reviews is a column on Actors Reporter, an entertainment trade magazine and channel on the Actors Podcast Network, a Pepper Jay Production.