Thursday, September 20, 2007

Man of a Thousand Faces

Lon Chaney is best known for his performance in/as The Phantom of the Opera, and for his ability to work wonders with makeup. I've actually seen him in only one movie, but the work he did for it was great - and we got to see what he really looks like.

In The Unknown, Chaney played a circus performer, a knife thrower named Alonzo the Armless. Only his assistant (a Chico Marx lookalike) knows the truth; Alonzo's got both his arms and is wanted for murder. To complicate things, he's in love with the victim's daughter, played by a so-young-she's-actually-attractive Joan Crawford. Director Tod Browning (pre-Dracula, pre-Freaks) does some fine work here, but the film belongs to Chaney, who actually learned how to throw knives with his feet.

Take a look at this and see if you don't want to see more.

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