Posted: 4/1/01

The Penalty (1920), The Unknown (1927), Oliver Twist (1922),
The Unholy Three (1925), He Who Gets Slapped (1924),
The Phantom Of The Opera (1925), He Who Gets Slapped (1924),
West Of Zanzibar (1928)
by Charlie Lustman

Lon Chaney: The Man Of A Thousan Faces returns to the big screen in April, 2001, when The Silent Movie Theatre presents eight of this great actor's classic films.

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Born in 1883 to deaf parents, Chaney was forced to adapt to mime and facial expressions at an early age. The theatre was a natural progression and Lon was drawn to the musical stage where he developed the art of multiple character portrayals. Hollywood was his next stop and between 1913-1918, Chaney appeared in several minor roles for Universal Pictures.

It was in 1919 that Chaney emerged as a serious player in The Miracle Man. Throughout the twenties Lon Chaney became a legend with major roles in The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923), He Who Gets Slapped MGM's first feature film (1924), and The Phantom Of The Opera (1925). It was with the great director/producer Tod Browning that Chaney exercised his most disturbing and brilliant portrayals in classics including The Unholy Three (1925), The Unknown with Joan Crawford (1927) and West Of Zanzibar(1928). Although described as a Horror Player, behind the grotesque portrayals was a tremendous amount of pathos.

Chaney's transformations through the art of make-up and physical illusion often involved great pain through prolonged distortions of muscles and limbs in order to astound his audiences. This was his dedication and brilliance. When talkies arrived in 1929, Lon was persuaded to star in the re-make of The Unholy Three and although a great success, the art of pantomime, which Chaney had mastered, was now a lost art form. Ironically, Lon Chaney died shortly after the films release from a sudden cancerous growth on his vocal cords.

The Silent Movie Theatre, located in Hollywood, pays tribute to this great silent legend with eight of Chaney's greatest achievements including:

"The Penalty" (1920) April 5th 8pm. Ethel Terry co-stars.

"The Unknown" (1927) April 6th-8th 8pm with Sunday matinees 1pm & 4pm. Co-stars are Norman Kerry and Joan Crawford.

"Oliver Twist" (1922) April 12th 8pm. "The Unholy Three" (1925) April 13th & 14th 8pm. "He Who Gets Slapped" (1924) April 19th 8pm. “Oliver Twist” features Jackie Coogan as Oliver Twist. “The Unholy Three” features a popular cast including Mae Busch and Victor McLaglen.

"The Phantom Of The Opera" (1925) April 20th-22nd 8pm with one show on Sunday the 22nd 1pm. “Phantom” co-stars Mary Philbin and Norman Kerry.

"Laugh Clown Laugh" (1928) April 26th 8pm and "West Of Zanzibar" (1928) April 27th-29th 8pm with Sun. mats. 1pm & 4pm. Laugh Clown Laugh” co-stars Loretta Young and is based upon the Italian play based on the Italian play Ridi, Pagliacci by Fausto Martino. “West of Zanzibar” co-stars Lionel Barrymore and Warner Baxter in a story of love and revenge across many years of one devoted man’s life.

The Silent Movie Theatre 611 North Fairfax Ave. (just south of Melrose Ave., Hollywood, Ca.). Box Office 323-655-2520 or log on to:

Charlie Lustman, proprieter of The Silent Movie Theatre, loves silent cinema and reopened America's only all-silent movie theatre on November 7, 1999.

Got a comment? Email Charlie at or visit his website and email him there.

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