The Swan Archives FAQ and Links Page
Q: Why did you do this? Are you out of your mind?
A: Thanks for asking. The Swan Archives' mission is to preserve, and make available to the public, whatever physical record remains of the life of Swan. Unfortunately, the vast bulk of what has survived of such material is limited to Phantom of the Paradise collateral.
Q: I read on the Internet Movie Database that....
A: There's a tremendous amount of bullshit that is regurgitated all over the net, as if sheer repetition would make it true. Here are a few complete falsehoods that just won't go away:
- "Phantom played continuously for more than a year in Winnipeg!" Nope. In fact, the film enjoyed an eighteen week run at the Garrick Theatre starting in December of 1974, but was replaced in that cinema by The Great Waldo Pepper on May 2nd of 1975. It was then picked up at the North Main Drive-In for one week, from May 15-22, and then the Park Theatre for two weeks, from June 20 to July 3. It disappeared from Winnipeg screens at that point, until its return in February 1976, double billed at the Garrick (as it was in many other localities) with Young Frankenstein, for four weeks starting February 6. For the full story of Phantom's run in Winnipeg in 1975, see Doug Carlson's Why Winnipeg? pages.
- "When the chocks that were in place to prevent the "record press" (an injection molding machine at a toy factory) from actually smashing William Finley's head gave way, it was Finley's speed and timing that saved him from truly being hurt, as he got his head out just in time, and his scream in the scene was real." We understand the urge to make life imitate art, but... no. It's true that the safety chocks gave way and, at Phantompalooza 2, Finley, joking with the crowd, exaggerated for comic effect how scared he was. In fact, though, as he's stated on other occasions, Finley was, thankfully, pulled out swiftly by fast-acting stagehands, and wasn't aware that anything had gone wrong until after he had been extricated from the press. The part that was actually scary for him was that, after the chocks failed, they were readjusted so that he could do another take.
- "Paul Williams gave the producers a discount price for the music in exchange for an on-screen role." This is a story that Gerrit Graham has told to interviewers on numerous occasions over the years, but he's misinformed. De Palma wanted Paul Williams to appear in the film, and there was no music-for-role quid pro quo.
- "Kiss stole their look from the Undeads." Not even. We refer you to our Kiss vs. the Undeads page, here.
- "Phantompalooza is an annual event in Winnipeg." No, Phantompalooza was never intended to be an annual event, and there are no plans for any more Phantompaloozas. The first one, in 2005, was intended as a one-off. The guests of honor, William Finley and Gerrit Graham, were so enthusiastic, however, that the Organizers, including your humble Archivist, decided to hold a second one in 2006 and invite the entire cast. That event, Phantompalooza 2, was truly spectacular, and featured a concert by Paul Williams and his band (with Jessica Harper joining the band to sing Old Souls), a Juicy Fruits reunion (they performed all three of their songs from the film, accompanied by a live band), and Gerrit Graham's first-ever public performance of Life at Last. There were also a couple of panel discussions with the cast, and the premiere of Deborah Znaty's featurette, Paradise Regained from the French special edition DVD. Finally, in 2007, a much smaller scale event, "Phantompalooza Two and a Half," was put on, intended mostly for locals, where a DVD with highlights from the 2005 and 2006 events was screened.
- "There's a remake of the movie in the works." Not at the moment. There are recurring efforts to mount Phantom as a stage musical, however, which are chronicled on our News page, here. De Palma remains interested in directing such a project and, in 1984, engaged Jim Steinman (best known for writing songs for Meat Loaf) to pen a set of new songs; this effort was apparently abandoned, however. In 2007, a workshop/lab was held in Los Angeles using the original Paul Williams score, but De Palma was pulled away when the opportunity to make Redacted arose. More recently, in early 2013, the Daft Punk guys met with De Palma to explore Phantom-related possibilities, but the massive success of their "Random Access Memories" has undoubtedly been a distraction for them.
- "The shot of Winslow's mangled face coming out of the record press was in early prints of the film." None that were exhibited in theaters after the film's initial release, except in early exhibitions in Germany and on German television. It seems that the German master did not have these few seconds deleted prior to the first few prints being struck. In addition, it was almost certainly in the prints that were shown at a couple of pre-release screenings; one on the Fox lot, and another, on June 27, 1974, at the Avco Theater in Westwood. And, a bit of it was in some of the trailers (previews of coming attractions), which is probably why so many people are certain they remember seeing it in the theater.
Here's a book we wish had been published but never was. Don't ask; it's just a cover we mocked up in a moment of childish pettiness.
Q: Has Phantom ever been shadowcasted?
A: Yes, unfortunately, it has. For those who are unfamiliar with the term: "shadowcasting" is a loathsome practice engaged in principally by a narcissistic subset of Rocky Horror fans, in which they dress up in their mothers' underwear and high heels and clomp around the stage as characters from their favorite movie, replicating the performances in the film as it's being projected onto the screen behind them. While perhaps fulfilling the fantasies of the participants, it's for the most part annoying to those trying to watch the film, though in the "live and let live" context of Rocky Horror fandom, it's generally considered impolitic to complain about it, particularly since everyone's seen the movie so many times already anyway. In any environment apart from Rocky screenings, shadowcasting would be viewed as rude, self-involved and disrespectful, as well as alarmingly similar to mime. Phantom screens publicly so rarely that it seems a shame to ruin it for people who haven't seen it by shouting over it, throwing things, and distracting attention from it. While we don't think Phantom is some kind of "sacred cow" that needs to be protected from Rocky-ish antics, it would sadden us for the film to become secondary, at its own rare exhibitions, to the mooing and cawing of the boors filling the seats. On occasion, overenthusiastic Rocky Horror fans have inflicted their shadowcasting on unfortunate Phantom audiences; the first such incident known to us was in San Diego, on July 29, 1983, when Phantom was double-billed for an evening with the Rocky Horror sequel-of-sorts, Shock Treatment (which incidentally co-stars Jessica Harper), and then followed by a midnight showing of Rocky itself. We're told that this particular Phantom shadowcasting incident was "halfhearted," and greeted by a profound lack of audience enthusiasm. Since then, Phantom shadowcasting has occasionally taken place at Rocky Horror conventions. We don't have a problem with Rocky fans imposing upon one another at their conventions -- and in fact, based on the video we've seen, we think the group who did it at Rockycon 07 did a crackin' good job -- but we hope the practice remains confined to such events.
Q: The outtakes and restored Swan Song footage are amazing! Are those going to be put on a special edition DVD, or director's cut of the film?
A: You never know. And that's all we're saying about that right now. While you're waiting, though -- soon after we posted the clips (without sound), a filmmaker named Garrett Gilchrist downloaded them from our site, and dubbed sound onto them, from the film and its soundtrack. When no audio was available, sound effects were added (such as the guard's gunshot shooting Winslow and the sound of clapperboards). This allows you to enjoy the uncut raw footage of The Juicy Fruits performing "Goodbye Eddie" and Phoenix performing "Special to Me" with the appropriate soundtrack included, and to endure the gory deleted Winslow record pressing scene as if it were included in the movie. We think he's done a fine job, and have posted his work on our site here.
Q: Do you actually have all the items that are pictured on your site?
A: Pretty much, yes. The Swan Archives has been building its collection for more than 30 years.
Q: Is any of your Phantom memorabilia for sale?
A: Generally, no. If we sold it, there wouldn't be any Swan Archives. If there's something you're particularly interested in, though, let us know: if we happen to have two of them, we might consider parting with the extra.
Q: I hear there are some excellent reproductions of the Phantom's helmet available...do you know where I can get one?
A: The original screen-used hero helmet is today owned by Phantom producer Ed Pressman, so if you see someone claiming to be selling it, they're lying. Unless they're Ed. Some excellent reproductions were made by a fellow in Winnipeg for several years. He made and sold about 60 of them, but is no longer in the helmet business. Occasionally, you see people re-selling his helmets on eBay when they tire of them, so checking there from time to time is probably your best bet. A very small number of helmets was also sold very briefly in 2007 by Medicom of Japan, but only in Japan. More recently, a well-known mask sculptor, Chuck Jarman, has gone into business making and selling Phantom helmets through his eBay store, here. Check there for availability and pricing.
Q: I have an item of Phantom memorabilia that's not in your collection. Would you be interested in buying it from me?
A: Probably. The Swan Archives is always looking for pieces to add to the collection and make available at our website, as a public service. We're not interested, though, in anything that's not original and studio-issued, so Death Records wall clocks, pendants, bumperstickers, and similar crap don't get us excited. If you'd like to unload a Style A 3-sheet or 6-sheet, though, or a ticket from the October 31, 1974 premiere, we'd love to hear from you.
Q: I love the song "Never Thought I'd Get to Meet the Devil". Only a little snippet of it plays in the movie. Are there any more verses? Why isn't it on the soundtrack?
A: We love it too. What you hear in the film is the entirety of what Paul Williams wrote for that song...it was just meant as a short ditty to get Winslow across the grounds outside Swanage. It's probably not on the soundtrack just because it was deemed too short and inconsequential to include.
Q: Who wrote and performed the wedding music? It sounds like nothing else in the movie!
A: That was Paul Williams, working with several of the other musicians who played elsewhere on the soundtrack.
Q: Where can I reach you by email? I'd like to tell you how much I love your site, or correct a factual error, or sell you a piece of Phantom memorabilia that you don't already have.
A: We would love to hear from you. You can reach The Swan Archives by sending email to archivist at swanarchives.org.
Q: I've been waiting all my life for someone to do this. I'm so grateful. Can I send you some money? A donation to help offset your bandwidth costs?
A: Thanks, that's very nice of you. But no, The Swan Archives maintains this site for reference, not for profit, and we do not accept donations. Did you notice that there are no banner ads, no co-marketing links to Amazon, and no popups sending you to porn sites? Accepting donations, or generating revenue, even if it's only to offset our bandwidth costs, could create the appearance that The Swan Archives is attempting to profit from the work of the creative people who made Phantom of the Paradise, and nothing could be further from the truth. If you appreciate the Swan Archives, we would love it if you would make a donation to our favorite charity, the M.I.N.D. Institute at UC Davis. The M.I.N.D. Institute is the world's foremost research and clinical organization devoted to striving to understand the causes and develop better treatments and ultimately cures for neurodevelopmental disorders like autism and Fragile X. You can get more information about them here and donate to them online here, making sure to choose "M.I.N.D. Institute" under "Recipient". Thanks!
Q: Someone on Ebay is selling this "clacker". Was it actually used in the production of the movie?
A: No, it's a novelty item.
Q: Someone on Ebay is selling what they say is the actual helmet worn by the Phantom in the movie, or from the same mold as the actual helmet. Is it really the helmet that was used in the movie?
A: No. Several different versions (prototypes) of the helmet were created, from several different molds, on the way to reaching the final design. This one appears to be from one of the alternate molds, not from the one from which the actual helmet used in the film was cast. The faceplate, for one thing, is substantially longer and thinner than the faceplate used on the helmet in the film, and the manner in which the faceplate is hinged to the helmet is entirely different from the actual helmet as well.
Q: Someone on Ebay is selling what they say is the actual rubber stamp that Swan used in the movie to sign his name in blood in Winslow's contract. Is it really the actual prop stamp that was used in the movie?
Q: Someone on Ebay is selling what they say is the actual facial appliance that William Finley wore in the movie to make his face look scarred. Is it really the one used in the movie?
Cast and Crew of Phantompalooza 2006. Our seldom-photographed Principal Archivist is in the middle of the bottom row. Photo by Del Pannu.
Q: Were you involved with Phantompalooza in some way?
A: Yes, our Principal Archivist was one of the organizers of Phantompalooza 2, in 2006, at which the entire surviving cast was reunited, and some of The Swan Archives' memorabilia collection decorated the lobby at Phantompalooza 1, in 2005. If you had a good time there, The Swan Archives would love to hear about your experience.
Q: Were you involved with the French collector's edition double DVD in some way?
A: Yes, The Swan Archives provided the trailers (previews of coming attractions) on the supplement disc, and also provided many of the stills and posters and things that were used in the Paradise Regained documentary.
Q: Can you forward an email to Paul Williams/Jessica Harper/ that blonde chick in the Swanage orgy scene/Gerrit Graham for me, or tell me how to reach them?
A: No, sorry. Some of those folks have their own websites, though, and if you go there, you might find contact information for them. The Swan Archives does not provide anyone's email address, or other contact info. We at The Swan Archives value our privacy, and we're sure they value theirs.
While we're on the topic, though, the blonde girl in the orgy scene, the one who wants help "warming up her voice," was Cheryl Rainbeaux Smith, who has a bit of a cult following of her own, the result of her appearances in iconic B-films like Caged Heat, Video Vixens, Massacre at Central High, and others.
Miss Smith unfortunately died in 2002.
Q: On the autographed items in your collection, it says "To Ari". Why is that?
A: "Ari" is the name of The Swan Archives' Principal Archivist.
Q: Hey! I own the copyright in something on your site! Take it down RIGHT NOW!
A: Don't be rude; this page is for frequently asked QUESTIONS. The Swan Archives' position is that the use on our site of all the Phantom promotional material; magazine, tape, DVD and album covers; advertising collateral; film clips; trailers; and merchandise is permitted by the fair use provisions of the US Copyright Act. In particular: The Swan Archives does not generate any revenue whatsoever from the website; the use of the copyrighted works is "transformative"; The Swan Archives is not displacing anyone's sales of any copyrighted work; and The Swan Archives' use is not having any effect on the value of any copyrighted work. If you've got a copyright concern about any of that, you could send us an email, to archivist at swanarchives.org. Unless your name is Brian De Palma, though, we'll probably ignore it. For non-Harbor/Fox/A&M photos and illustrations, we make reasonable efforts to track down the identities of the artists and photographers involved, obtain their permission, and give credit where it's due. If you see one of your photos or illustrations being used on our site without credit, that's because we don't know who you are; please get in touch.
Photo by Paul Hirsch
Unofficial but excellent news site chronicling Brian De Palma's activities. Webmaster Geoff always posts the latest De Palma related news before anyone else, and is unfailingly accurate; it's pretty hard to beat him to the story. (And his site's logo, above, was created by Peet Gelderblom, the witty director/cartoonist/writer/essayist/editor/critic behind Directorama
The most authoritative Paul Williams fansite out there.
The Paul Williams Connection - Paul Williams' official site.
Jessica Harper's own "official" website, with an emphasis on her books and CD's for children, which we at The Swan Archives think are a blast by the way: the songs are well produced, witty and interesting, with a lot more variety in rhythms and percussion and far better musicianship and songwriting than any other music for children we've ever heard. Ms. Harper's sly wit and sense of fun is evident throughout. Very listenable for adults as well as kids...great stuff! Check it out!
Peter Elbling's (Harold Oblong) own "official" website, with information on his recent work, including his Archie the Anteater video and his book, The Food Taster, which we at The Swan Archives thoroughly enjoyed. The Food Taster is an exciting and funny page-turner about a fellow who gets a job being the food taster (as in testing for poison) for a despicable 16th century duke with many enemies. Lots of doublecrosses, outsmartings, poisonings, unexpected turns of events, duplicity, and romance. Our Principal Archivist usually abhors perfection in anyone but himself, but is willing to make an exception here.
Gerrit Graham's "official" website.
Giuseppe Puccio's De Palma site, emphasizing Puccio's theories about De Palma's recurrent themes, and his use of space and camera angles to convey information.
ArtInsights, an art gallery devoted to the work of John Alvin, who created the Phantom album cover and poster art. We know a fellow obsessive when we see one...
A wonderful French fansite that begins to answer the question, "What's so great about Brian De Palma anyway?" We at The Swan Archives admire this site tremendously.
Romain Desbiens' fan site; always a good read, frequently updated, mostly in French.
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All inquiries should be directed by email to archivist at swanarchives.org. The words "grand guignol" appear nowhere on this site. All website text, design, and coding is Copyright 2006-2013, Ari the Principal Archivist. No claim is made to the copyrighted works, trademarks or service marks of Harbor Productions, 20th Century Fox or A&M Records, and The Swan Archives is in no way affiliated with any of these entities.