7.3/10
1,916
42 user 29 critic

Man of a Thousand Faces (1957)

The life and career of vaudevillian and silent screen horror star Lon Chaney, his contentious relationship with his neurotic wife, and his premature death.

Director:

Reviews

On Disc

at Amazon

Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 win. See more awards »
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Action | Adventure | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

When spy chief Bob Sharkey finds out one of his agents-in-training is actually a Nazi double agent, his strategic decision not to arrest him results in tragedy.

Director: Henry Hathaway
Stars: James Cagney, Annabella, Richard Conte
Comedy | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

A Broadway director helps the West Point cadets put on a show, aided by two lovely ladies and assorted complications.

Director: Roy Del Ruth
Stars: James Cagney, Virginia Mayo, Doris Day
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

A corrupt D.A. with governatorial ambitions is annoyed by an investigative reporter's criticism of his criminal activities and decides to frame the reporter for manslaughter in order to silence him.

Director: William Keighley
Stars: James Cagney, George Raft, Jane Bryan
Certificate: Passed Action | Adventure | Biography
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

Although loudmouthed braggart Jerry Plunkett alienates his comrades and officers, Father Duffy, the regimental chaplain, has faith that he'll prove himself in the end.

Director: William Keighley
Stars: James Cagney, Pat O'Brien, George Brent
'G' Men (1935)
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

It's the early days of the F.B.I. - federal agents working for the Department of Justice. Though they've got limited powers - they don't carry weapons and have to get local police approval ... See full summary »

Director: William Keighley
Stars: James Cagney, Margaret Lindsay, Ann Dvorak
Terrible Joe Moran (TV Movie 1984)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

A wheelchair-bound, former boxer deals with his long estranged granddaughter whom is seeking financial help for her writing career and helping her loser boyfriend get out of debt with the local mob.

Director: Joseph Sargent
Stars: James Cagney, Art Carney, Ellen Barkin
Biography | Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A semi-documentary dramatization of five weeks in the life of Vice Admiral William F. "Bull" Halsey, Jr., from his assignment to command the U.S. naval operations in the South Pacific to the Allied victory at Guadalcanal.

Director: Robert Montgomery
Stars: James Cagney, Dennis Weaver, Ward Costello
The Big Steal (1949)
Crime | Film-Noir | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

An army lieutenant accused of robbery pursues the real thief on a frantic chase through Mexico aided by the thief's fiancee.

Director: Don Siegel
Stars: Robert Mitchum, Jane Greer, William Bendix
Action | Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

Inspired by Churchill's Dunkirk speech, brash, undisciplined bush pilot Brian MacLean and three friends enlist in the RCAF but are deemed too old to be fliers.

Director: Michael Curtiz
Stars: James Cagney, Dennis Morgan, Brenda Marshall
Comedy | Drama | Musical
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  

Jake MacIllaney will do just about anything to win the presidential election of longshoreman union Local 26. When he encounters young upright attorney Dan Cabot and Cabot's attractive wife,... See full summary »

Director: Charles Lederer
Stars: James Cagney, Shirley Jones, Roger Smith
Action | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

Three men attempt to make a living in Prohibitionist America after returning home from fighting together in World War I.

Director: Raoul Walsh
Stars: James Cagney, Humphrey Bogart, Priscilla Lane
Biography | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

The story of a man who fooled an entire country. A tale of cheats and impostors, taking its inspiration from true facts and from one of the most intriguing characters of recent decades: the spy Francisco Paesa.

Director: Alberto Rodríguez
Stars: Jose Coronado, Eduard Fernández, Miquel García Borda
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
Hazel Bennet Chaney
...
Gert
...
Clarence Locan
...
Irving Thalberg (as Robert J. Evans)
...
Mrs. Chaney
...
Carrie Chaney
...
Dr. J. Wilson Shields
...
Robert Lyden ...
Rickie Sorensen ...
Dennis Rush ...
...
Pa Chaney
Simon Scott ...
Carl Hastings
Edit

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:

WHAT WAS THE SECRET BEHIND THE MAN BEHIND THE THOUSAND FACES? (original ad - all caps) See more »

Genres:

Biography | Drama

Certificate:

See all certifications »
Edit

Details

Country:

Release Date:

October 1957 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Der Mann mit den 1000 Gesichtern  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

James Cagney had previously acted alongside Lon Chaney's son Lon Chaney Jr in A Lion Is In The Streets (1953). See more »

Goofs

Chaney died in 1930. In one scene, however he drives up to his cabin in a 1937 Packard. See more »

Quotes

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

Connections

References Bits of Life (1921) 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 »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
Cagney - Man Of A Thousand Parts
5 May 2009 | by (Ireland) – See all my reviews

MAN OF A THOUSAND FACES is one of Hollywood's better films about Hollywood! Produced by Universal International in 1957 it recounts the life and times of one of the silent screens most formidable icons - Lon Chaney. From an excellent Oscar nominated screenplay by R.Wright Cambell, Ben Roberts and Ivan Goff it was skillfully directed by Joseph Pevney. Peveny, himself a useful supporting player in such movies as "Body And Soul" (1947) and Fox's "Street With No Name (1948) directed some of Universal's biggest productions i.e. "Away All Boats" (1956), "Tammy & The Bachelor" (1957) and one of Erroll Flynn's last efforts "Istanbul" (1957). Playing the leading role in this marvellous biopic is James Cagney who gives an outstanding measured performance as Lon Chaney the strange tortured character actor of silent pictures who, ironically, died from throat cancer with the advent of the talkies.

Crisply photographed in black & white Cinemascope by the great Russell Metty ("Touch Of Evil") the picture conveys a strong sense of time and place. Expertly evoked is Vaudeville in the early part of the 20th Century where Chaney began as a song and dance man (Cagney delighting us with his special brand of hoofing) and early Hollywood where he became an extra at Universal Studios. Then with the help of his make-up box and his uncanny facility to alter his appearance - sometimes resulting in great pain - he soon became known as The Man Of A 1000 Faces.

Notable reconstructions of Chaney's creations are quite brilliantly achieved in the picture. Cagney excels as the cripple being cured in a reworking of Chaney's famous scene from "The Miracle Man" (1919)and the phantom being unmasked in "Phantom Of The Opera" (1925). But especially noteworthy is a re-staging of Chaney's "The Hunchback Of Notre Dame" (1923). Here Cagney is totally unrecognizable as he replicates Chaney's interpretation of Quasimodo being whipped on the punishment wheel in the village square. It is an intense moment in the picture and a remarkable achievement for Cagney the consummate actor! Little wonder that the great Orson Welles in the seventies declared that the screen's greatest actor was James Cagney!

Others in the cast of this splendid film are Dorothy Malone giving an excellent performance as the singer and Chaney's first wife Cleva Creighton, Jane Greer as his second wife, Jim Backus as his press agent and Robert Evens as the boy wonder of the motion picture business Irving Thalberg.

The picture also boasts a terrific music score by the underrated and now wholly forgotten film composer Frank Skinner (1897/1968). Skinner was composer in residence at Universal for many years and composed the music for some of their most prestigious productions such as "Tap Roots" (1948), "Magnificent Obsession" (1954), "Madame X" (1965) and "Shenandoah" (1965). "Man Of A 1000 Faces" was, however, his finest achievement! A soundtrack album of his music from the film - issued at the time of the picture's release - is now a much sought after recording!

A wonderful movie on DVD presented in a sharp black & white widescreen format that every collector will want to own if only for Cagney's amazing performance. His Lon Chaney is just as powerful and just as memorable as his George M. Cohan, Cody Jarret or Marty "The Gimp" Snyder!


19 of 21 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?