As movie stars go, there is no modern equivalent to Lon Chaney. Physical contortion and misunderstood madness were his stock in trade. Chaney’s films exaggerated the everyday horrors of poverty, illness and crime but were fantastic enough to be entertaining. Narrated by Kenneth Branagh, this documentary covers his life from childhood to grave and includes interviews with his son and great grandson.
Chaney learnt his trade as a traveling vaudevillian, taking with him to film 16 years experience of lighting, props, make-up, stage craft, comic-timing and mime. Chaney’s unique ability both on stage and screen was to capture the essence of a character in a few gestures. His films pushed stories of physically broken and vengeful characters to the limit.
Film clips are taken from the finest surviving materials and include the ‘lost’ titles, The Fascination of the Fleur de Lys, Riddle Gawn and Thunder. Hollywood makeup artist and Chaney biographer Michael Blake provides expert insight into the essential factors of Chaney’s miraculous transformations.