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Lon Chaney earned his nickname "The Man of a Thousand Faces" with a gallery of grotesque, misshapen characters created through a combination of elaborate makeup, contorted postures, and sensitive performances. After a rich silent-movie career starring in such classics as He Who Gets Slapped, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and The Phantom of the Opera, he died after completing his first and only sound film, a remake of his silent crime picture The Unholy Three. James Cagney plays Chaney in this glossy Hollywood biography, a reverent, melodramatic tribute that focuses on his turbulent private life and rise from vaudeville clown to hard-working Hollywood extra to movie star. Dorothy Malone costars as his unstable first wife, who flees her husband and their young son after a failed suicide attempt, Jane Greer is the loving showgirl who fills her void, and future real-life superproducer Robert Evans plays legendary MGM producer Irving Thalberg. Cagney is a short, thick pug of an actor where Chaney is tall and lean, but he oddly resembles the star in his craggy face, and his rarely tapped dancing skills are put to good use in the early vaudeville scenes and contorted recreations of twisted Chaney characters. But most importantly, Cagney brings to the role passion and compassion that burn through the indifferent direction and show-biz clichés to create a vivid, energetic portrait of the enigmatic cult star who rarely let audiences see his true face.

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MC04080 Man of A Thousand Faces DVD (1957/James Cagney) $19.99 $17.99