Based on a novel by Gaston Leroux, a masked man living in the cellar of an opera house uses threats and violence to give a singer opportunity while hoping for her love.
At the Paris Opera House the old owners warn of a ghost in box 5. Dancers say they saw the phantom. Joseph describes him and shows where he saw him in the cellar. Carlotta's mother (Virginia Pearson) shows the managers a note from the phantom demanding that Christine Daae sing Marguerite in Faust instead of Carlotta (Mary Fabian).
Christine Daae (Mary Philbin) sings in place of ill Carlotta. Vicomte Raoul de Chagny (Norman Kerry) fears no rival for his love despite rumors. Christine tells Raoul that she cannot leave the opera to marry him. A voice from a shadow tells her to concentrate on her career.
Carlotta and the managers get threatening letters that Christine must sing, but Carlotta goes on. Raoul gets a note never to see Christine again. A chandelier falls on the audience, and people leave in panic. Raoul hides in Christine's room; she goes out by the mirror, but he can't. Christine meets masked Erik (Lon Chaney), who says he is her master. He puts her on a horse and takes her on a gondola in the sewer to his apartment. He says he loves her and hopes her purity will save him. She faints, and he carries her to his bed.
Christine reads a note warning her not to touch his mask. Erik plays an organ. She removes his mask and sees his ugly face. She pleads that he let her go. He warns that if she sees her lover again, both will die. She agrees.
Raoul gets a note to meet Christine at a masked ball. Erik appears in red as Death and says below are the tombs of the tortured. Christine tells Raoul the phantom is a monster, and she asks him to take her away. Erik sees them. Ledoux (Arthur Edmund Carewe) tells the Prefect that Erik is insane and escaped from Devil's Island. Christine tells Raoul that Erik knows their plans. Joseph is found strangled.
Christine performs until Erik replaces the conductor. Ledoux tells Raoul that he can take him to Erik. Ledoux is in the secret police and opens the mirror. They use a trap door. Erik tells Christine that she lied and will see evil. Yet he hopes her love will save him. Erik wades into the sewer with an air pipe to turn them away. Christine tries to get out. Erik says the callers left. He hears them and turns on the heat, asking her what she will do to save their lives. Ledoux and Raoul find a trap door and are confined with gunpowder. Erik asks Christine to marry him to save them. Many people search with torches. Christine chooses not to blow up the opera house, and water nearly drowns Ledoux and Raoul; but Erik opens his floor and lets them in. Erik escapes with Christine in a carriage, and people run after them. She falls out in the street. Erik stops and runs. People beat him and throw him in the river.
In this sophisticated thriller the phantom hopes to be
saved by a woman's love like Faust, but he too has sold his soul
to the devil by trying to use violent ways to get what he wants.