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Man of a Thousand Faces (1957)

The life and career of vaudevillian and silent screen horror star Lon Chaney, his contentious relationship with his neurotic wife, and his premature death.

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 win. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Irving Thalberg (as Robert J. Evans)
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Mrs. Chaney
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Carrie Chaney
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Dr. J. Wilson Shields
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Robert Lyden ...
Rickie Sorensen ...
Creighton Chaney at 8
Dennis Rush ...
Creighton Chaney at 4
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Pa Chaney
Simon Scott ...
Carl Hastings
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Storyline

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 <kyousten@bev.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

WHAT WAS THE SECRET BEHIND THE MAN BEHIND THE THOUSAND FACES? (original ad - all caps) See more »

Genres:

Biography | Drama

Certificate:

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Details

Country:

Release Date:

October 1957 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Der Mann mit den 1000 Gesichtern  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film opens at a memorial for Chaney at the Lon Chaney sound stage. The camera pulls in to a closeup of the plaque that designates the building. The face on the plaque is that of James Cagney not Lon Chaney. This was done because Cagney and Chaney looked nothing alike. See more »

Goofs

The scene of Creighton leaving home to take care of his natural mother is completely false. Around that time, not only was Creighton married, but was the father of 2 children and was working for his father-in-law. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Guard: Good morning, Mr. Thalberg.
Irving Thalberg: Good morning.
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Connections

References The Unknown (1927) See more »

Soundtracks

Jingle Bells
(uncredited)
Written by James Pierpont (as James Lord Pierpont) (1857)
integrated into soundtrack when Chaney family reunites at Christmas
See more »

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User Reviews

 
A Cagney triumph
18 July 2005 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

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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