7.2/10
2,244
51 user 35 critic

Man of a Thousand Faces (1957)

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
Reviews
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 Simon Scott ... Carl Hastings
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Starting with a violent prison break, clever, ruthless Ralph Cotter corrupts everyone around him.

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A financially-strapped charter pilot hires himself to an oil tycoon to kidnap his madcap daughter and prevent her from marrying a vapid band leader.

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"Talkie" remake of Tod Browning's 1925 silent film. A trio of former sideshow performers double as the "Unholy Three" in a scam to nab some shiny rocks.

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A fictionalized account of the career of jazz singer Ruth Etting and her tempestuous marriage to gangster Marty Snyder, who helped propel her to stardom.

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A charismatic peddler from the bayous finds his true calling in politics. Is he a demagogue in the making?

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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:

Who were the women who twisted his life and love...igniting the flame of his genius, driving him to immortal fame? See more »

Genres:

Biography | Drama

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Final film of Clarence Kolb. 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.
See more »

Connections

References The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923) See more »

Soundtracks

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

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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Details

Country:

USA

Release Date:

19 November 1957 (West Germany) See more »

Also Known As:

Der Mann mit den 1000 Gesichtern See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

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