52 user 38 critic

Man of a Thousand Faces (1957)

1:30 | Trailer
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.


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





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


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


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


Biography | Drama


Approved | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


On a trip to Hawaii, James Cagney met Roger Smith stationed there in the Naval Reserve, impressed with his clean-cut good looks and appeal, he encouraged Smith to pursue an acting career. Following the advice and after success in several films, Smith reconnected with Cagney who hired him to play his son, "Lon Jr." in Man of a Thousand Faces (1957). Cagney later cast him as his co-star in the musical comedy-drama Never Steal Anything Small (1959). See more »


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 »


[first lines]
Guard: Good morning, Mr. Thalberg.
Irving Thalberg: Good morning.
See more »


References The Road to Mandalay (1926) See more »


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

Perhaps Cagney's finest performance in a mature role
12 November 2009 | by AlsExGalSee all my reviews

Cagney plays Lon Chaney in this film about the great imitator's life. Chaney himself was a very private person, preferring the quiet of hearth and home to the wild Hollywood night life. Hollywood was where he worked, not a way of life. In this way both he and the man who plays him (James Cagney) have much in common.

Cagney and Chaney looked totally different, yet Cagney makes this role work. In Cagney's biography "Cagney on Cagney", he admits that the story takes certain liberties with Chaney's life as most biopics do, but there are many actual events in Chaney's life that are in the movie. Chaney was indeed the child of two deaf mute parents - he got his gift for pantomime in communicating with them. His first marriage was a rocky one, just as the film portrays. Whether the trouble started over his first wife believing that their child would be deaf and being horrified by the possibility as is portrayed in the film I don't know, but given early 20th century attitudes toward disability it is entirely possible.

The film whether accurate or not, was a loving tribute to Chaney that was instrumental in a revival of interest in his films. I consider this to be possibly Cagney's best performance in a mature role with maybe the exception of 1956's "These Wilder Years", which is seldom televised nor on VHS or DVD.

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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


Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

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