Monday, June 2, 2014

KLEM FM


The scene doesn't frighten anymore, but 1925 filmgoers were shocked at Lon Chaney, Sr.'s on-screen visage. Visual images and stills were tightly controlled in those days, so most everyone only heard about the scene before seeing it.

The comment thread under that video got me to thinking. Excerpt:
Comment: I cant help but laugh at those old movies, their acting is so over-the-top! 
Reply: Back then, theatre (which was pretty over-the-top until Constantine Stanislavsky came along and explored naturalism in acting) was all anyone knew. Not only was the acting 'over-the-top,' the filming was very 'stagey.'
I had to google Constantine Stanislavsky and I learned something new.

Chaney's parents were both deaf-mutes and he grew up with sign language as his "mother tongue." He didn't even learn to speak until he was old enough for school, even though there was nothing wrong with his speech or hearing. Later, his mother fell ill and young Chaney was left to care for her after she lost the use of her hands. They communicated with facial expressions. That explains why Chaney was so unique as Hollywood's first character actor. He was a skilled make-up artist as well. But Chaney did not make the transition to "talkies" -- he died of a throat hemorrhage in 1929.
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[added] Here is the original trailer. Also, 15-year old Carla Laemmle had a minor role in the film and she's still alive at age 104!

[added] Sadly, she passed away ten days after I wrote this.

14 comments:

chickelit said...

Universal's "The Phantom of the Opera" (1925) was one of the first pictures to use color film -- an early two-tone technicolor process.

As kid, I was fascinated with all the Universal horror genre movies. I read most anything I could find on them and rented super 8 films of a few from the Madison Public Library.

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

The more difficult question is whether Bert Cooper's haunting of Don Draper does something that's never been done before.

AllenS said...

throat hemorrhage

You don't hear that one very often. In fact, first time for me.

chickelit said...

Allen, when I was a kid, everyone wrote that he died of lung cancer. He had lung cancer, but per Wiki he died of bleeding in his throat aggravated by breathing synthetic snowflakes.

chickelit said...

Sometimes these gory details don't come out until well after the star's death. Like Jim Morrison being carried back to his apartment from a bathroom stall.

Sixty Grit said...

Enrico Caruso died of a of throat hemorrhage, that can't be a good way to go.

Chip Ahoy said...

How interesting. You had me at deaf parents. Made me think of Jeff. Both his parents are deaf, and oddly, so are most his brothers and sisters. Jeff the most deaf of all. His mum is like a gypsy woman loaded up with jewelry. Her arms wrung with bangles. When she speaks she makes a clattering racket. But I was the only one who heard it. Apparently.

What a coincidence I thought while reading this. I considered myself good at facial expression. But this morning I felt a wash of momentary doubt. Someone on muted teevee made a furrowed brow that says "deep concern" such as Anderson Cooper has permanently etched upon his forehead like anti-botox victim smitten by his own constant concern, and that caused me to attempted a face of Michelle Obama that says, "consternation" such as she is constantly being photographed wearing, and I could not pull it off, causing me to be filled with momentary self-doubt, then went, "eh, it's time to go out and initiate plan C" so I did. I had to go to three places to find basil. I'm all, "Am I blind or what? I do not see any basil." And the first two places were all, "Yeah. No. We got none of that." I'm driving all over the place trying to find the simplest of herbs. And that told me people are snatching it up which tells me people are really into cooking their own meals and sick and tired of buying basil in tiny packages. And I met fine and fun and engaging people at each place on top of all that and driving wasn't the drag I anticipated, so win win win.

I found out a woman I had been talking to name is Faren.

I asked "What kind of name is that?"

This is important because the Fort Cookbook that I enjoyed so well recommends hot chile powder from a place in Santa Fe, I looked online and the place is still active and offers the powder, so I bought it. The bad thing about that is shipping cost more than the powder. So I doubled my order, and to make it worthwhile decided to use it for gifts for three women I know for a surprise, so now my order is really big. Problem is, as much as i talk to one of the women, I never did know her name. So today I asked. She goes, You been talking to me this whole time not even knowing my name? I go, Yeah, I been faking it the whole time. Anyway, are they ever going to be surprised. At first they'll go WTF? And make fun of my idea of presents. And then they'll appreciate my thoughtfulness. Little things like this go a long way.

Lem said...

Anderson Cooper has permanently etched upon his forehead like anti-botox victim smitten by his own constant concern...

I noticed that. It's permanently on his face. Maybe CNN had it written into his contract. Freeze face.

Lem said...

I don't get it... today was a good twitter day and I hardly did any original work.

chickelit said...

@Chip: Lon Chaney grew up in Colorado Springs.

chickelit said...

I had a sigmoidoscopy today. Prior to that, I was the "Man of A Thousand Feces."

chickelit said...

What's a "good Twitter day," Lem?

Lem said...

I picked up 4 or 5 followers

Chip Ahoy said...

The deaf/blind school is in Colorado Springs. That's where Jeff went when he was kicked out of the school in Illinois. His whole family moved here because of him. I asked him why and he said they caught him in bed with another guy and weren't having it. He shrugged and laughed.