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Lon Chaney: A Thousand Faces (2000)

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Lon Chaney, the silent movie star and makeup artist, renowned for his various characterizations and celebrated for his horror films, becomes the subject of this documentary.


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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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Complete credited cast:
Himself / Narrator (voice)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Forrest J. Ackerman ...
Michael F. Blake ...
Teresa Blake ...
Himself (archive footage)
Himself (archive footage)
Ron Chaney ...
Himself (archive footage)
Arthur Gardner ...
Mary Hunt ...
Sara Karloff ...
Edward Montagne ...


Lon Chaney, the silent movie star and makeup artist, renowned for his various characterizations and celebrated for his horror films, becomes the subject of this documentary. We learn of his deaf mute parents, his own long-delayed ability to talk and the origins of his expressive face and hands, which were to serve him so well in his career. He started as a touring stage actor where he met the singer, who became his first wife, and gave him the child who later became a lesser horror star on his own. Lon Chaney's early film roles lead to his first fame as a contortionist in "The Miracle Man," and then on to the horror roles, that are well remembered today, and to the varied character roles, that are still beloved of silent movie fans. Lung cancer ends his life, and we learn how the world reacted. Finally, there is a mysterious anecdote about Lon Chaney's tomb. Written by J. Spurlin

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis





Release Date:

24 October 2000 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Lon Chaney: El hombre de las mil caras  »

Filming Locations:

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


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User Reviews

An excellent documentary about the Godfather of horror movies
30 October 2001 | by (Westminster, CA, U.S.A.) – See all my reviews

An excellent documentary about the Godfather of horror-film make-up, horror-movie monsters, and horror-movies period, if you ask me. This study of the "man of a thousand faces" was extremely well done and satisfying. A TCM original, it features many elderly folks who are surprisingly still alive today, and a few who aren't (Coogan and Chaney Jr. are seen in clips from the 1970s), reminiscing either about having worked with this great man, or even, like one sweet old lady, just remembering going to the movies to see Chaney during the times his movies were coming out. Probably the two most interesting things for me here were: 1, that alot of things I'd read about this man previously, in horror-movie book chapters and magazine articles, was that he "may" have been some kind of masochist, because of the pain he had to endure with his elaborate make-ups, particularly in his filmic pinnacle, "Phantom Of The Opera." According to experts and Chaney scholars of today, nothing could be further from the truth. Examples were even given, showing how easy it was to have done some of the things he did, particularly in his early film work, where he did most of his "contortionist" stunts. And 2, the myth of the greatness of the most sadly lost Chaney silent, "London After Midnight," which we've all seen photos from, where he played a vampire with cloak and top-hat, and some very big and bizarre-looking teeth. According to two different now-elderly folks who remember seeing that film, it was actually not very successful at all, and laughable at best! One of them said that Chaney had come up with a certain distinctive walk for this character, and was convinced that Groucho Marx must've seen it, and was inspired by it to come up with his famous crouching Groucho-walk! Many other surprises and interesting facts adorn this documentary; a must for any fan or anyone the least bit interested. ***

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