Sunday, October 26, 2008

31 Days of Halloween - Day 26 Movie

To celebrate Hollywood's 50th Anniversary, Universal Pictures produced "Man of a Thousand Faces" (1957), a biography of one of its biggest stars, Lon Chaney. The film plays rather loose with the facts concerning Chaney's life, streamlining them in some case, and outright changing others for dramatic impact and for a more structured narrative. Little of the movie focuses on Chaney the man who was able to complete transform himself from one role to the next, or the roles that he played. Most of the movie is devoted to his relationship to the two women he married, and his relationship with his son, Creighton.

This movie is pretty melodramatic with an excellent cast including James Cagney as Lon Chaney, Dorothy Malone and Jane Greer as the two Mrs. Chaneys, and Jim Backus as Chaney's press agent. Scenes are briefly recreated from Chaney's two most famous roles as Quasimodo in "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" (1923) and Erik "The Phantom of the Opera" (1925) but the make-up recreations seem like parody's of Chaney's creations, detracting from the artistry that chaney is rightfully credited for.

It's a well crafted, entertaining movie, but don't use it as the basis for a paper on Lon Chaney.

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