Thanks to Leslie Nielsen, the rare Night Gallery comic vignette that works, “Phantom of What Opera?” is reviewed here.
“Phantom of What Opera?” **1/2
Leslie Nielsen as the Phantom
Mary Ann Beck as the Prisoner
A masked man (Leslie Nielsen), carries a beautiful screaming young woman down a stone staircase. She asks who he is. “Can you not guess?” he asks. “I am the Phantom of the Opera.”
The lights a candelabra but can’t put out the taper, which plays as genuinely funny and which, according to an interview Nielsen gave to Scott Skelton and Jim Benson in their book “Rod Serling’s Night Gallery: An After-Hours Tour,” this was done as an ad-lib due to the fact that Nielsen couldn’t blow out the taper through the silk mask he was wearing.
He sits down at the organ and plays the famous opening from Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D minor (the music most closely associated with the phantom at the organ with his back to us. His prisoner approaches him from behind and pulls off his mask. We see his face and it is hideous. She screams.
He’s furious and starts to strangle her, but his hands at her throat somehow dislodge her “mask” of what we would consider a beautiful face mistake, revealing a similarly misshapen visage. Now it’s his turn to scream in revulsion.
Then, realizing they’ve found the perfect match for each other, they embrace, also genuinely funny.
So at least two decent laughs and no real groaners in three and a half minutes—that’s worth two and a half stars to me.