No it’s not Ibsen, or Shakespeare, or Tarentino…or even Gaston Leroux.
It’s Edgar Wallace.
No it’s not The Phantom of the Opera, it’s The Phantom of Soho.
No it’s not set on the Parisian opera stage and its fantastic (and damp) underworld. It’s set in the smoky, underworld night club; Sansibar (doesn’t even get an exotic “Z”), where the dancers are scantily-clad when clad at all…and can be had by all for reasonable remuneration.
The music is not grand opera, it’s wheezy, sleazy jazz.
Footlights? Fergit it. It’s neon or nuthin’ in this flick.
Edgar Wallace, for a significant part of the 20th century, had more books in print than any other author in the English language. His books were popular staples in every outpost library of the British Colonial Empire. He wrote crime novels, jungle novels, and a little epic you might’ve heard of; KING KONG.
But on this movie night, we’re prowling in our trench coat through the swirling fog of Soho. We’re shrugging away the blandishments of the entrepreneur-esses on the street corners and in the shadowy doorways. We’re carefully avoiding the blackmailing ship’s-captain who resembles Popeye’s good buddy, Bluto. We’re dodging knives and politely passing on the proffered poison capsules. We have a rendezvous with a surprise twist that we saw coming in the first fifteen minutes of the film.
It can’t get much better than this.