THE SILENT TREATMENT: Erich von Stroheim's "Foolish Wives"

“Even at approximately a third of its initial length, Foolish Wives is a brilliantly perverse morality play in the Henry James mold that exposes naïve Americans abroad to the predations of decadent European aristocracy.” — Budd Wilkins, Slant

In an art form celebrated for its larger-than-life personalities, the iron-willed Erich von Stroheim still remains one of filmmaking’s top mythic iconoclasts. Even though almost every one of his features was recut or otherwise mangled by the powers that be, his filmography is still more wildly vibrant and emotionally gripping than almost any of his silent-era contemporaries. Here, Von Stroheim himself stars as the leader of a debaucherous scam artist ring who, amongst the lavish confines of Monte Carlo, embarks on a grand plan to remove an American envoy from his hard-earned dough. Taken out of von Stroheim’s hands by Universal and reduced from an unprecedented six-hour, two-part epic into a more “commercial-length” single film, Foolish Wives magically still retains every bit of both the visual beauty and biting cultural critique its creator originally intended.
Dir. Erich von Stroheim, 1922, 35mm, 143 min.

Watch an excerpt from “Foolish Wives”!
YouTube Preview Image