Loose biography of actor Lon Chaney. Growing up with deaf parents, he learns what it is like to be different. As an actor, he puts that knowledge (together with lots of make-up and talent) ... See full summary »
Loose biography of actor Lon Chaney. Growing up with deaf parents, he learns what it is like to be different. As an actor, he puts that knowledge (together with lots of make-up and talent) to use playing a variety of strange, unusual characters, adopting their characteristics so thoroughly as to be called the Man of a Thousand Faces. Written by
Ken Yousten <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Saw this on the late show when I was 12 or 13: I was moved, even scared, by scenes with Miracle Man, Christmas dinner, Quasimodo, & especially with the legless man in the alley ("Pick me up & knock me down again!") We know now that LC, Sr., was less than pleasant to be around & that LC, Jr., grew up to be miserable. But this was an early introduction to what I'd heard of as "vaudeville," & the transitional sequences with Cagney as a film lot extra (with a real silent flick star Marjorie Rambeau, as Gert) were fast-paced & convincing. It was a fair cultural shock to see Jim Backus (as agent Locan) in a dramatic role, since until then I'd seen him only on sitcoms & as Mister Magoo.
I have it on tape & watch it maybe once a year & have seen Cagney & co-stars in other vehicles since then: especially Jane Greer in her unsavory "Out of the Past" role. Dorothy Malone (whom I knew only from "Peyton Place") was a great, underrated actress.
Yes, the ending is slow & shmaltzy, & it was hard to imagine even back then (I'd already seen scary LC, Jr., in the teleplay, The Ballad of Jubal Pickett) that Jr. was ever as handsome as Roger Smith. But if nothing else you can get a fictional behind-the-scenes account of the making of two great silents & cultural icons: Phantom of the Opera & Hunchback of Notre Dame.
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