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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 <email@example.com>
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 »
Chaney died in 1930. In one scene, however he drives up to his cabin in a 1937 Packard. See more »
At times rather inaccurate but still entertaining.
"Loosely based....". When I hear this about a bio-pic, it is a complete turnoff to me. I think some it was because I was a history teacher--and to me, history is sacred--you tell it exactly like it was. Yet, in so many Hollywood films, the truth isn't deemed interesting enough and they heavily embellish the picture. Thus is the story of Lon Chaney in "The Man of a Thousand Faces". While the main points are correct, Chaney's interesting life just wasn't interesting enough for the folks at Universal and they played fast and loose with some of the facts. I didn't like this--but must acknowledge that it was an entertaining story.
However, there is one other issue about the film about which I have a unique perspective. Like Chaney, I have a deaf family member--in my case, my daughter. And because of this, I can talk about a few things the average viewer wouldn't notice. When the people are using sign language in the film, they really are using sign language--though they do it a bit poorly. As a result, you can see that the parents of Chaney in the film are not natural signers--but I appreciate that they tried. One thing I did not appreciate, however, is that the film seemed to exploit Chaney's parents--creating problems that did not exist in real life. For example, when Chaney's first wife meets them, she has no idea they are deaf--but this was NOT the case in real life and it just felt cheap--like they were capitalizing on their deafness for the sake of a plot gimmick. That was pretty sad.
Aside from my complaints and observations, I still think this is a very good film. Just understand it all is heavily dramatized and you can take some of it with a grain of salt. Also, it was nice to see the silent comic Snub Pollard in a bit scene midway through the film.
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