By Michael F. Blake
For the 1st time, you could placed conjecture apart and browse definitive evidence in regards to the roles Chaney had behind the curtain in addition to in entrance of the camera.
Blake examines Chaney's movie roles during this follow-up to the author's past biography (Lon Chaney: the guy in the back of the Thousand Faces, Vestal Pr., 1993). through correspondence, studio notes, and stories from the preferred press, Blake completely reconstructs the cultural context within which Chaney's motion pictures have been produced, exhibited, and bought. even supposing sometimes topic to silent movie histrionics, Chaney created the function of the twisted antihero, and it's this contribution to the pantheon of monitor forms that Blake hails right here. He tracks Chaney's upward thrust from freelancer to MGM megastar, in addition to his partnership with director Tod Browning, whose darkish visions accepted Chaney's tortured protagonists to thrive. regrettably, Blake's ardour as a fan and trained curiosity in Chaney's artistry (the writer himself is a make-up artist) is suffocated by means of a turbid textual content. now and then Blake overexplicates and makes seen inferences. The textual content comprises meticulous endnotes, copious photos, and a bibliography.
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Additional resources for A Thousand Faces: Lon Chaney's Unique Artistry in Motion Pictures
Unlike The Oubliette, this film is not badly dated, and the acting is fairly competent under the direction of Joseph De Grasse. This is an important film in judging this period of Chaney’s career because it allows us to view Lon’s work as directed by De Grasse. From 1914 to 1918, Lon appeared in 64 films for De Grasse and his screenwriter-director wife, Ida May Park. Working for this husband-and-wife team, Lon was given the chance to play various characters and to experiment with make-up. This is readily apparent in this film, in which Lon plays the same character over a thirty-year span.
The animal antics are amusing, but when the film resorts to the inclusion of a title card of two animals supposedly speaking to each other, it becomes obtrusive. The scenery and the animals are the strongest features going for this film, leaving the viewer feeling indifferent. On the other hand, his next film, The Penalty, remains one of Chaney’s most impressive character performances. Written in 1913 by Gouverneur Morris, a popular writer of the period, the novel doesn’t immediately strike one as being great material for a movie, yet someone at Goldwyn Pictures realized its potential.
This subtle gesture of Lon’s character, wanting to say something but hesitating, brings a realistic touch to a scene that could easily have been overacted. De Grasse’s The Scarlet Car (1917) gave Lon the opportunity to portray another character with a certain twist. Lon plays Paul Revere Forbes, a bank cashier who discovers that his employer has embezzled a large amount of money. When he confronts his boss about the missing money, a fight erupts between them, and Chaney strikes his head against a file cabinet.