One of the Phantom's Christines is gone... Susanna Foster has fallen...
Published at: Jan. 19, 2009, 2:29 a.m. CST by headgeek
Hey folks, Harry here again... Back in the pre-VHS days, my parents collected 16mm - it wasn't at all like the way we folks collect DVDs or even the VHS days - it was such a costly hobby that you collected what was available when you saw it. My parents had reels upon reels of trailers and one of the trailers that truly stood out was Claude Rains' PHANTOM OF THE OPERA. Why? Well, it was found on our second reel of horror/sci-fi trailers. The actual film print stock itself was IB TECH, which to those of you that don't know... it's kinda like imagine watching a VHS tape on an HD set, when suddenly something comes on in Blu-Ray quality. It just popped. In addition, this was my very first exposure to operatic singing... so when I saw Nelson Eddy and the absolutely stunning Susanna Foster... they leapt out from the screen singing in epic voices - in the midst of Horror & Sci Fi.
My mother was a Nelson Eddy addict, so I've seen the classic PHANTOM OF THE OPERA with Nelson so many times. At first I didn't appreciate the opera parts, but over the years as my tastes have matured, I'd say... about age 17 or so, I really began to appreciate just how wonderful the whole film is. Of course... PHANTOM OF THE OPERA is really a story of two characters... The Phantom and the beautiful Christine, here... Susanna Foster glowed on screen. The Technicolor giving her skin an otherworldly glow. Truly beautiful, the exact sort of innocence that you hope the Phantom doesn't tarnish.
Watch this great scene between the two of them...
And here's that trailer... You probably can't quite imagine just how much more intense this trailer looked in IB TECH, than on YouTube, but perhaps you can.... And it thrilled me, here you go:
The only other film of Ms Foster's that I saw was Boris Karloff's THE CLIMAX from 1944, which actually was nominated for an Oscar for Art Direction. But isn't a great film. Susanna's story isn't exactly a happy one, she spent her final years at The Lillian Booth Actor's Home in Englewood, New Jersey. She apparently developed severe mental problems, had been kicked off welfare, living in her car and finally a fan let her live with them for a while. Such a tragedy for someone so incredibly talented.
Our thoughts go out to her son Michael and to everyone that knew and cared for her.