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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Pure in Heart: The Life and Legacy of Lon Chaney Jr.

8/10
Author: Scarecrow-88 from United States
20 February 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

It seems to be in season to belittle Lon Chaney Jr over the past few years as I have become disenchanted with a lack of respect given to his performances and most popular film, The Wolf Man. With the theatrical release of The Wolfman, George Waggner's The Wolf Man has been regarded as mediocre and overrated. I think people have a right to their opinion and that I should take them for a grain of salt, but The Wolf Man and the star who played him are so dear to my heart that I have a hard time swallowing such ridicule. This wonderful 30 minute documentary about Creighton Chaney who would later take the name of his father and become an icon(to us who still love The Wolf Man and the character of Lawrence Talbot)has insightful interviews from historians, directors, authors, and friends who speak about him candidly, informing us about who the man was and offering analysis and opinions on his career and personal lifestyle. There's reflection on Chaney's contribution to Horror, and how his upbringing, alcoholism, struggles as an actor, famous father, stardom and faltering career after Universal shaped the man he was in life and on screen. After slogging through the scathing rhetoric of his performances and movies by others who consider him worthless, it was pleasant to experience a documentary about Chaney's work where he's respected and appreciated. It was just dandy to purchase the 2 disc Legacy set of The Wolf Man, with a documentary paying tribute to a man often the butt of jokes and criticism, beloved by many horror fans who still consider him a treasure in the pantheon of Universal legends. While Dracula and The Wolf Man were the reasons I'm the Gothic horror fan I am today, the performance of Lawrence Talbot, absent werewolf make-up, was just as much a reason why I still hold his film with such regard. There are moments when we see how near and dear he was to certain interviewees due to his sweet nature and kind treatment to those around him that nearly brought me to tears, because, despite his troubles(..and demons that continued to plague him due to following in the footsteps of a legendary movie star and how his star fell after Universal canceled his contract)he meant so much to a lot of people.

This documentary also comments on the film that truly made him noticed in Hollywood, his Lenny in Of Mice and Men, plus interviews from director Sam Hill and actor Sid Haig who share warm memories of his work in Spider Baby..sad is that Chaney would never know how beloved his role would be to a new generation of horror fans(correctly, someone says that Spider Baby is Chaney's Targets).

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0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Nice Documentary But We Need a More Detailed One on Lon

Author: Michael_Elliott from Louisville, KY
18 March 2011

Pure in Heart: The Life and Legacy of Lon Chaney, Jr. (2010)

*** (out of 4)

Pretty good documentary taking a look at the life of Creighton Chaney who would eventually become known as Lon Chaney, Jr. and appear in the 40s as Frankenstein's monster, Dracula, the mummy and of course his most famous role as the wolf man. This documentary runs just over half an hour and features interviews with Bob Burns, Joe Dante, John Landis, Kim Newman, Gregory Mank, Sid Haig and Jack Hill among others. If you looking for a full documentary on Chaney then you're going to be disappointed because this here pretty much goes over his days at Universal. We do get a brief discussion of his early pre-fame days and a look at his role as Lenny in OF MICE AND MEN. Jack Hill's SPIDER BABY also gets a good chunk devoted to it, which was a surprise considering this documentary was made by Universal and that film doesn't belong to the studio. For the most part this is fairly entertaining as long as you don't expect something that looks at his entire career. I enjoyed hearing from those interviewed as they share some pretty good stories about Lon and it's always great to hear the opinions of people who admire. It's also great fun when you know someone has the same passion as you do and this adds more to hearing their comments. The short running time means quite a bit of footage isn't discussed but I do wish they had perhaps at least took a look at some of his other horror films. There's brief mention of him doing a lot of character work but hopefully one day we'll get a fuller documentary on the man.

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