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

Director:

Joseph Pevney
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 win. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
James Cagney ... Lon Chaney
Dorothy Malone ... Cleva Creighton Chaney
Jane Greer ... Hazel Bennet Chaney
Marjorie Rambeau ... Gert
Jim Backus ... Clarence Locan
Robert Evans ... Irving Thalberg (as Robert J. Evans)
Celia Lovsky ... Mrs. Chaney
Jeanne Cagney ... Carrie Chaney
Jack Albertson ... Dr. J. Wilson Shields
Roger Smith ... Creighton Chaney at 21
Robert Lyden Robert Lyden ... Creighton Chaney at 13
Rickie Sorensen Rickie Sorensen ... Creighton Chaney at 8
Dennis Rush ... Creighton Chaney at 4
Nolan Leary ... 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:

This is the true story of the fabulous Lon Chaney! See more »

Genres:

Biography | Drama

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This film starring James Cagney as Lon Chaney shows Chaney making a scene in The Miracle Man (1919). That film was based on a novel by Frank L. Packard and its stage adaptation by George M. Cohan, who acted in it himself (not in the same part as Chaney, though). And in Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942), Cagney had played Cohan. See more »

Goofs

This movie's depiction of Chaney's makeup for "Phantom of the Opera" is very misleading. The movie's version shows Chaney's face unrecognizable and nearly immobile behind elaborate full latex appliances. Chaney was actually proud of his ability to distort his appearance using only a minimum of makeup - in this case basically thin wires in his nose and around his eyes, false teeth and dark paint around his eyes and nostrils. See more »

Quotes

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

References Where East Is East (1929) See more »

Soundtracks

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

 
At times rather inaccurate but still entertaining.
30 August 2011 | by MartinHaferSee all my reviews

"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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Details

Country:

USA

Release Date:

19 November 1957 (West Germany) See more »

Also Known As:

Man of a Thousand Faces See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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