Sunday, March 30, 2008

man of a thousand faces and furies coming to dvd

Universal is releasing a Cagney film on DVD that I haven't seen in years: Man of a Thousand Faces. The film is the life story of the great Lon Chaney - known as the "man of a thousand faces" because of his great ability to bury himself in a role and completely change himself onscreen. While the movie includes some fictionalized parts, a lot of Chaney's life is there up on the screen. And Cagney really tackles this role with reverence and maturity (it was a later role for Cagney- made in 1957). It's one of those films that you just love and want to learn more about the man portrayed. Cagney's co-stars were Jack Albertson, Jim Bakkus, Dorothy Malone and his sister Jeanne Cagney (her next to last film)
Famous NY Times critic from the past, Bostley Crowther had some critical things to say about the screenplay and film, but praised Cagney's performance.
From his 1957 review:
"With not too much help from the screenplay, Mr. Cagney none the less gives a stirring sense of the actor's devotion to his first wife, to his infant son, to his aging parents and to his profession, which he stubbornly pursues through a hard career in vaudeville to eventual stardom in Holly wood. Being Mr. Cagney, it is difficult for him to remove all the familiar Cagney cockiness and pugnacity from the role. Even so, there is an abundance of tenderness, sensitivity and pride in his creation of the driven actor. This is the heart of the film."
Universal will release the DVD on June 24, 2008. It is available for pre-order at

Also on June 24, Criterion will be releasing something I've been hoping for: The Furies with Barbara Stanwyck and Walter Houston in his very last role. Director Anthony Mann guides this great 1950 western melodrama about a struggle between a controlling father and his tough father. Set in 1870s New Mexico, widowed rancher T. C. Jeffords (Houston) is constantly at odds with his daughter, Vance (Stanwyck) over everything, but especially over who she will marry and what she will inherit. Jeffords is furious about her choice in a suitor- and does what he can to destroy their impending marriage. Vance isn't also too happy about Jefford's decision to remarry- a woman she believes is after the family fortune.
It's a beautifully shot film and earned an Oscar nod for Victor Milner for cinematography. Criterion promises a new digital transfer and great extras, including a 1931 on camera interview
with Walter Houston. It is also available for pre-order from

Oh, I know it's a penny here and a penny there, but look at me. I worked myself up from nothing to a state of extreme poverty.

Barbara Stanwyck loved doing westerns more than anything where she had to dress up frilly and chase after a man. At heart, she's a cowgirl. Or a cowboy - she's one of the toughest, most no-nonsense women in this town, and she stopped playing the old cat-and-mouse game years ago.".

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