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TCM Archives: Lon Chaney Collection

2 Ratings: 5.0
Warner Bros. Home Video's 2-disc DVD featuring three Lon Chaney films and a wealth of special features.

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Director: Tod Browning
Genre: Biography, Classics, Crime, Drama, Horror, Mystery, see all
Release Date: 1921, 1927, 1928
MPAA Rating: Unrated
1 review about TCM Archives: Lon Chaney Collection

The Man of a Thousand Faces

  • Dec 22, 2008
In 1883, Leonidas Chaney was born in Colorado Springs, however the world would come to know him as Lon Chaney. Lon Chaney was one of the great American performers during the era of silent filmmaking. His success was due in part to the fact that he was extraordinarily skilled in his creation and application of makeup and prosthetics. But Chaney was more than just a great makeup artist. He was a highly expressive actor who utilized his entire body to create memorable characters. Though he is remembered mainly for his roles in early horror films, Chaney actually starred in films from many genres ranging from horror to westerns, from comedies to melodramas. When he died in 1930, at the age of 47, he left a gap in the industry that would never be filled.
TCM Archives: Lon Chaney Collection DVD Set

The Ace of Hearts - 1921 (Newly scored by Vivek Maddala)
A group of political dissidents target a powerful capitalist and whoever draws the Ace of Hearts will be the assassin. When the cards are dealt, Farallone (Chaney) watches in horror as his rival, Forrest is given the honor of being the assassin. But soon Farallone realizes that he has less to live for while the woman he loves, Lilith, has promised herself to Forrest. Farallone chooses to sacrifice himself so that the two lovers may be together.
Chaney in "The Ace of Hearts"

The Unknown - 1927
Lon Chaney plays Alonzo, a knife throwing circus performer who supposedly has no arms (he throws the knives with his feet). In actuality he hides his arms because he has two thumbs on his left hand and this would identify him as the killer the police are looking for. Joan Crawford plays Nanon, Alonzo's beautiful assistant and the daughter of the circus owner. She has an unusual fear of being handled by men, which leads Alonzo to believe that she might fall in love with him. But one night he gets into a fight with the circus owner and strangles him. Nanon witnesses the crime but never sees the killer's face, only the two thumbs on his left hand. Alonzo decides to bribe a surgeon into amputating his arms and as he's already learned to use his feet to perform daily activities, he won't need them. The surgeon is forced to cooperate. When Alonzo returns to announce his love to Nanon, he finds that she's become engaged to the circus strongman, Malabar. The realization that he's had his arms cut off for nothing drives him into a murderous frenzy. He plots revenge on the two lovers.
This strangely engaging film was directed by Tod Browning (Dracula and Freaks).
Chaney in "The Unknown"

Laugh, Clown, Laugh - 1928 (Newly scored by H. Scott Salinas)
Chaney plays Tito, a clown who falls in love with Simonetta, the abandoned girl that he raised (Loretta Young). But she only views him as a father figure, which breaks his heart. When she falls in love with a handsome young aristocrat, Tito is left distraught with only a clown's painted-on smile to hide his anguish.
Chaney in "Laugh, Clown, Laugh"

London After Midnight - 1927
This is a photographic reconstruction of a lost film about a detective who poses as a vampire in order to uncover a murderous plot. This film was later remade as Mark of the Vampire starring Béla Lugosi and directed by Tod Browning.
Chaney in "London After Midnight"

This spectacular set includes the following bonus features:
Three audio commentaries by Chaney biographer Michael F. Blake, photo galleries for each film, a great documentary about Chaney's life and career, two featurettes about the composers who created the new scores for Ace of Hearts and Laugh, Clown, Laugh.
TCM Archives produced this terrific 2-disc set and as always Turner Classic Movies proves themselves to be a central force in the preservation and presentation of classic films. This set is a must-have for silent film enthusiasts and Chaney fans alike.
TCM Archives: Lon Chaney Collection Lon Chaney as Alonzo the Armless Chaney as the Vampire Lon Chaney as Tito and Lorretta Young as Simonetta

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October 25, 2011
I'm not as acquainted with silent films as I'd like to be and as such, I had never heard of this actor but, each of these films sound pretty amazing. Thanks for the education, dear Count!
October 25, 2011
Thanks, Deej. You'd like some of his films. Others, perhaps not so much, but I bet that some of the ones directed by Tod Browning would amuse you.
October 26, 2011
I'll have to keep that in mind :)
October 26, 2011
If you get the chance to TiVo it, check out "The Unholy Three" or its sound remake "The Unholy 3". Chaney plays a criminal from the circus who along with a midget and a strong man impersonate an old woman, her son in law, and a baby. It's really funny and suspenseful.
April 16, 2011
April 16, 2011
Can you see why he decided to go by Lon, Lon? ; )
April 17, 2011
Sir, my reaction is such because you are mistaken. What many believe my name to be is Leonidas, not "Leonardus." I'm afraid there is no such name that I know of. And Leonidas was actually the name of an uncle. In fact, it is the uncle with whom I resided when I lived in Denver.

I prefer the nickname Lon as short for Leonard Frank Chaney. That is the name with which my dear mother enrolled me in school. I believe that if anyone should know my name, it is she who bore me.
April 17, 2011
I apologize most humbly for this grave error on my part. Consider it amended. In addition, might I add that you were superb in "The Unholy Three"? ; )
April 17, 2011
It seems that I stand corrected. It has been pointed out to me that Leonardus does exist as a first name. However, it is not mine.
April 17, 2011
Thank you most kindly. I raises my spirit to know that my work -- at least, what remains of it -- has stood the test of time.
April 17, 2011
The error on my part came from a misunderstanding. I'd taken my information on Lon's early years from a documentary in which I misheard Michael Blake's pronunciation of his full first name. I suppose such a mistake must be forgiven though, as Chaney's parents were deaf and my hearing is, apparently, not as excellent as I had once thought.
April 17, 2011
For the record, your good Mr. Blake assumes that my name is Leonidas because this is what he was told by my younger brother, George. And my brother George, likewise, assumed that my name is Leonidas. However, all existing paperwork, including that which I wrote myself, shows my first name as Lon or Leonard, and my middle name as Frank. I have never written my name as Leonidas Chaney. Again, Leonidas is my uncle.
November 02, 2010
Chaney is good...he had also had an unknown film that never saw print. Nice review!
November 02, 2010
And about fifty lost films too.
October 18, 2010
Another excellent review Sean, he truly was one of the greats.
October 18, 2010
Yeah, I'd love it if more of Chaney's films were readily available on DVD.
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