Lon Chaney: A Thousand Faces
- TV Movie
- 1h 25m
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.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.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.
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. —J. Spurlin
This documentary deserves a FAR higher rating.
This is a welcome addition to my DVD collection. Here is an opportunity to learn a lot about the silent screen actor and the man who gave birth to the horror film genre in America - Lon Chaney. Whilst it's true that the man himself isn't revealed very much (he fiercely protected his privacy at all times), we are still enlightened as to how Lon Chaney the actor worked and struggled his way to the top of his profession. There haven't been that many documentaries about this talented individual but Lon Chaney certainly hasn't fallen into obscurity (unlike a lot of people from the silent film era). We are fortunate to witness interviews with people who happen to remember watching Chaney's movies when they were first released - an exceptional rarity. The interview excerpts with Lon Chaney Jnr. could have more frequent but they were informative all the same. Via this tribute, I was introduced to films like "The Unholy Three," "Tell It to the Marines," "HE Who Gets Slapped," amongst others. There are excepts from quite a few of his existing films and some rarely seen home movie footage. With regards to Lon Chaney shunning any kind of publicity, the documentary highlights this account: at one stage, some footage shows some of M.G.M's biggest names as they all stand next to each other outside. At the end of this line of people, stands a man who has his back to the camera as it moves in his direction. He is wearing a cap and glasses and he turns to look at the camera for a split second and resumes his former position. That person was Lon Chaney. This clip sums up his feelings about anything relating to publicity. The same applied to attending any film premieres: the actor avoided these occasions at all times. A rare exception, was when he and his wife attended the premiere of "Tell It to the Marines," due to the film being a personal favourite of Chaney. It is a case of wondering what might have been, if the actor had lived to experience success in talkie films. His only one - the remake of "The Unholy Three" - was deemed successful with regards to Chaney's vocal ability. He had a good, strong voice and I am convinced he would have adapted to sound satisfactorily. Thanks to this documentary and to the books written by devout follower Michael F. Blake, Lon Chaney's existing work can be enjoyed by a new generation of fans (me included).
I highly recommend this one!
I highly recommend this one!
- May 14, 2017
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