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>
It was interesting to see the difference of opinion of previous reviewers of Man of a Thousand Faces. I fall into the category of loving this particular film. I think it was James Cagney's finest piece of thespianism. How he was overlooked in the Oscar sweepstakes for this performance is beyond me.
It's so far from anything Cagney had ever done before. And he got to use all his talents, acting and musical, as the beginning had Lon Chaney on the vaudeville stage doing his pantomime act.
Lon Chaney's was born to deaf mute parents and learned to sign to communicate with them. That led to his interest in pantomime, a stage career in vaudeville and finally silent movies.
The film plays fast and loose with the facts of Chaney's life, but I think it captures the spirit of the man who created for the silent screen so many tortured souls.
Dorothy Malone and Jane Greer play wives one and two. Dorothy Malone had just come off an Oscar the year before in Written on the Wind. This is a marvelous followup part for an actress that for ten years was thought as little more than ornamental. Jane Greer is also good as the wise and patient second wife who knows she's playing second fiddle to the relationship of father and son.
Universal was Chaney's home studio and the studio approached the making of this picture with reverence and care for it's first great star.
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