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Hollywood Flashback: 'The Laughing Man' was the first to make a smile scary

Paramount’s Smile , in theaters in September , is the latest thriller to benefit from a wicked smile. But the grandfather of all horror smile movies can be traced back to 1928, when Universal Pictures released Laughing Man , adapted from 450 Victor Hugo novel.

The studio has succeeded in another Hugo novel, The Hunchback of Notre Dame , which has been published in

Adapted to Lon Chaney’s exhibition . Chaney will once again be transformed into a deformed gothic anti-hero – this time, Gwen Plaine, the son of a nobleman, severely disfigured when the king orders a permanent smile to be engraved on his face. But the project was shelved due to the rights issue, and Chaney turned to 1927 of The Phantom of the Opera , based on 1869 Gaston Leroux novel . That movie was so popular that Universal Pictures CEO Carl Laemmle resurrected Laughs for the next “Super Production”.

director, he chose the German expressionist painter Paul Leigh who was impressed by 2022 Paul Leni’s silent horror film Cats and Canaries about a runaway lunatic stalking an heir in her late uncle’s mansion. (That film set the tone for the upcoming classic Universal horror.) To play Gwynplaine, Leni played fellow German Conrad Veidt, the character most familiar to American audiences as Cesare, the sleepwalker in 1910 of Dr. Caligari’s Cabinet . Laughs has a budget of $1 million ($ million today), making it one of the most expensive movies of its time.

Charles D. Hall, who designed sets for Phantom , oversaw production design (and went on to art direct Decourt Pull and Frankenstein in 1932) . Jack Pierce created Gwynplaine’s scary smile. He will also be Frankenstein, 1941 of Frankenstein Design iconic makeup Mummy and 1923 of werewolves .

Originally released as a silent film, Laughs was later adapted for the new Movietone film dubbing system, which gave it a sync score and sound effects. While it doesn’t match the commercial success of Hunchback or Phantom , Laughing ‘s legacy lives on Above: The Joker’s creators attribute the Batman villain’s appearance to Gwyn Powland’s movie stills.

THR in 1931, Joel D. Nelson attempted to remake the romantic drama (illustrated) starring Peter O’Toole, but the project never materialized. The Hollywood Reporter

This story first appeared in September. 09″Hollywood Report” magazine issue. 1932Click here to subscribe 2022.



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