Man of a Thousand Faces

Man of a Thousand Faces

Director: Joseph Pevney, James Cagney, Dorothy Malone, Jane Greer

Cast: Joseph Pevney, James Cagney, Dorothy Malone, Jane Greer

     
 

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One screen legend tips his hat to another as James Cagney portrays horror film icon Lon Chaney in Man of a Thousand Faces. Joseph Pevney's bio-pic takes a somewhat whitewashed view of Chaney's career, but Cagney is nothing short of riveting in the lead. The film begins as Chaney, the son of two deaf parents, is tasting success in vaudeville as a

Overview

One screen legend tips his hat to another as James Cagney portrays horror film icon Lon Chaney in Man of a Thousand Faces. Joseph Pevney's bio-pic takes a somewhat whitewashed view of Chaney's career, but Cagney is nothing short of riveting in the lead. The film begins as Chaney, the son of two deaf parents, is tasting success in vaudeville as a knockabout juggler, mime, and quick-change artist. Chaney meets Cleva Creighton (Dorothy Malone) and hires her as his assistant. They fall in love and marry, but when Chaney reveals his parents are deaf mutes, she recoils in revulsion. When she gives birth to a son, she refuses to look at him, thinking their child will also be deaf. Chaney proves her wrong, but Cleva reveals an underlying psychological affliction that grows in intensity as Chaney's vaudeville success increases. When Chaney becomes a vaudeville star, Cleva walks out on both Chaney and her son. Chaney's son is sent to a home, since after Cleva's departure, he hasn't the money to support him. To get his son back, he travels to Hollywood and takes every bit role available, using his gift for creative disguises to land several roles in one film. Chaney becomes well respected for his talents and his popularity becomes greater, and he eventually becomes a superstar. Along the way, he meets Hazel Bennett (Jane Greer) and they fall in love and marry. But his happiness is shattered when Cleva comes back into his life and demands the return of her son.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Richard Gilliam
The Man of a Thousand Faces is an above average 1950s biopic distinguished by a sympathetic performance by James Cagney as silent film star Lon Chaney. Produced by Universal, the studio for which Chaney had become a major star in The Phantom of the Opera, the Oscar-nominated screenplay is more fanciful tribute than objective history. Fortunately, the film has Cagney, and, fortunately for Cagney, the committee-written screenplay has a varied emotional range, allowing him to exhibit a showy spectrum of styles. While probably the best of director Joseph Pevney's feature films, there's little in the way of a director's voice. This was a studio project, and Pevney's forte was the efficient management of production budgets, not cinematic brilliance. Russell L. Metty's black & white cinematography is a solid asset, giving portions of the film an appropriate 1920s feel, but overall this is a by-the-numbers production, brightened by its casting choices and Cagney's stellar lead performance.

Product Details

Release Date:
06/24/2008
UPC:
0025195032582
Original Release:
1957
Rating:
NR
Source:
Universal Studios
Region Code:
1
Presentation:
[Wide Screen]
Time:
2:02:00
Sales rank:
25,894

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
James Cagney Lon Chaney
Dorothy Malone Cleva Creighton Chaney
Jane Greer Hazel Bennet
Jim Backus Clarence Logan
Robert Evans Irving Thalberg
Marjorie Rambeau Gert, a movie extra
Celia Lovsky Mrs. Chaney
Jeanne Cagney Carrie Chaney
Jack Albertson Dr. J. Wilson Shields
Roger Smith Creighton Chaney, age 21
Rickie Sorenson Creighton Chaney, age 8
Dennis Rush Creighton Chaney at Age 4
Nolan Leary Pa Chaney
Simon Scott Carl Hastings
Danny Beck Max Dill
Philip Van Zandt George Loane Tucker
Hank Mann Comedy Waiter
Harry "Snub" Pollard Comedy Waiter
Marjorie Bennett Maid
Clarence Kolb Himself
Robert Lyden Creighton Chaney, age 13

Technical Credits
Joseph Pevney Director
Alexander Golitzen Art Director
Robert Arthur Producer
Phil Bowles Asst. Director
R. Wright Campbell Screenwriter
Joseph E. Gershenson Musical Direction/Supervision
Ivan Goff Screenwriter
Ted Kent Editor
Jack Kevan Makeup
Russell Metty Cinematographer
Eric Orbom Art Director
Ben Roberts Screenwriter
Frank Skinner Score Composer
Clifford Stine Special Effects
Bill Thomas Costumes/Costume Designer
Bud Westmore Makeup
Ralph Wheelwright Original Story,Screenwriter

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