Foolish Wives (1922) torrent download

Foolish Wives

1922

Action / Drama / Thriller

7.1

Synopsis

"Count" Karanzim, a Don Juan is with his cousins in Monte Carlo, living from faked money and the money he gets from rich ladies, who are attracted by his charmes and his title or his militaristic and aristocratic behaviour. He tries to have success with Mrs Hughes, the wife of the new US ambassador.

Cast

Erich von Stroheim
as Count Wladislaw Sergius Karamzin
Cesare Gravina
as Cesare Ventucci
Mae Busch
as Princess Vera Petchnikoff
Rudolph Christians
as Andrew J. Hughes, U.S. Special-Envoy to Monaco
Miss DuPont
as Helen Hughes
Maude George
as Princess Olga Petchnikoff
Dale Fuller
as Maruschka, a Maid

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by gftbiloxi 9 /10

Seldom Seen Silent Classic

Today Erich Von Stroheim is best recalled by the general public for his appearances in such films as the 1950 SUNSET BLVD--but fans of silent film know him as one of early cinema's great directors, creator of such films as BLIND HUSBANDS, FOOLISH WIVES, and the legendary masterwork GREED. The film is available in several VHS and DVD releases; perhaps the best, however, is offered by Kino Video, which also includes a profile of Von Stroheim as well.

FOOLISH WIVES is generally believed to be the first film made that cost one million dollars. In the modern era, when film budgets often run into many millions of dollars, this may seem slight--but in 1922 Universal Studios was staggered not only by the costs, but by Von Stroheim's seemingly endless shooting schedule; at a time when most movies were made in six weeks or less, FOOLISH WIVES took a year or more to complete and threatened to bankrupt the studio.

The circumstances brought Von Stroheim into direct conflict with production manager Irving Thalberg, who threatened to replace him with another director. By most accounts, Von Stroheim laughed in Thalberg's face: not only was he director, he was the star as well, and if he were fired the film would never be completed. Thalberg and Universal had little choice but grin and bear it... but it was something Thalberg would recall several years later, much to Von Stroheim's chagrin.

Set in post-World War I Monaco, FOOLISH WIVES presents the story of the ultra-amoral Count Wladislaw Sergius (Von Stroheim) and his two supposed cousins Olga (Maude George) and Vera (Mae Busch) who present themselves as wealthy Russian nobility--but who are in fact a trio of vicious con-artists who generate cash flow by passing counterfeit bills through Monaco's legendary casinos. Eager to deflect suspicion, they scrape acquaintance with an American diplomat and his wife (Rudolph Christians and Helen Hughes)--and in time at all the naive wife is so much putty in the Count's diabolical hands.

Von Stroheim recreated a fairly large chunk of Monaco on the Universal back lot, and the sets, costumes, and crowds of extras still put most modern productions to shame. But the film's real fascination are the deadly trio of Maude George, Mae Busch, and most particularly Von Stroheim himself. Within the first few minutes of the film he contemplates advances upon an attractive but mentally deficient young woman--and as the plot unfolds we discover that he has seduced the maid with a promise of marriage he does not intend to keep. This, of course, does not prevent him from taking her life savings for a little gambling money when the need arises! The overall cast is quite good, with Miss DuPont a stand out as the diplomat's wife, and the cast plays without recourse to the broad mannerisms often seen in many silent films. But what drives the film is our curiosity at how far Von Stroheim will take both the film and his own performance. The answer? Plenty far indeed. It's all fascinating stuff, and truly this is the film that gave Von Stroheim the title of "The Man You Love To Hate." FOOLISH WIVES was soundly condemned by the moral authorities of the day, and Universal lost a bundle on the project. In an effort to recoup some of the loss, the studio cut and then recut the film to a more reasonable length for distribution; as a result, great chunks of the film were lost. While a "complete" version is an impossibility, the Kino version seems to restore the film as completely as possible.

FOOLISH WIVES inevitably pales in comparison to Stroheim's later GREED, but it is a remarkably fine, remarkably watchable silent--and the two films would have a circular effect. For when Von Stroheim went to Metro to film GREED, he eventually found himself face to face once more with Irving Thalberg... and this time Thalberg, who well recalled the financial disaster of FOOLISH WIVES, would have the upper hand. Strongly recommended, not only for the film itself, but for the backstory involved.

GFT, Reviewer

Reviewed by hasosch 10 /10

The Construction of Reality

Erich von Stroheim (1885-1957) was a man with many realities. He was born into a poor Jewish family in Vienna, tried to join the Habsburgian army but was rejected, flew to the United States and started as a swimming instructor and boat guide. How he managed to meet David Griffith is unclear, but finally Griffith appointed von Stroheim as assistant director for his "Intolerance" (1916). It is hard to imagine how such different characters like Griffith and von Stroheim could get along with one another, but I assume that the most important feature that they shared was their megalomania. Soon after, von Stroheim started his career as director and actor, although he had no education at all – not in theater, not in film business, not in literature. But this did not prevent him either to write screenplays.

After his debut with Griffith, he changed his identity and invented a new one. He added the predicate "von" to his name, told everybody that he is the descendant of a family of Viennese nobles and had made a carrier as an imperial officer in the Habsburgian army. Von Stroheim trained so long, until he could perfectly imitate the behavior of all ranks from a colonel up to a general, from a prince up to a count. And these were the roles that he should play mostly during his whole life: counts, barons, captains, lieutenants, majors, generals. He played them until he believed that he was what he played: the borders between his seeming and his being became more and more fluid. It therefore would be a terrible mistake to assume that Erich von Stroheim was a liar, a cheater and a betrayer. Similar to Don Quixote, he constructed his own reality, including his identity – and believed in it himself.

Strangely enough, although von Stroheim directed only about 10 movies, but acted in in 74, he is nowadays known mainly as a director. Once arrived in the United States, the Habsburgian monarchy was broken together already, so nobody could check if Erich von Stroheim was an Austrian noble, an officer or not. In his very personal way, von Stroheim took the famous passage of the Declaration of Independence more seriously than many other Americans or peoples who became Americans: the breaking-up of his own past and scooping out fully his chances in the land of unlimited possibilities. However, in creating his personal reality, he was obliged to maximal authenticity. So von Stroheim for example reconstructed meticulously the Casino of Monte Carlo for his movie "Foolish wives" (1922). Instead of using raspberry jam as imitation for caviar he had imported original Russian Beluga caviar – extremely expensive and hard to get so shortly after World War I. The movie was the hitherto most expensive film, it cost over one million of dollars. Von Stroheim's megalomania – caused by his obsession for authenticity in order to convince not only the public but mostly himself about his creations of reality – leaded finally to the end of his directing career in the United States – and also inaugurated much later his fame as the most extravagant film director ever.

Married to Valérie Germonpréz, Erich von Stroheim met already in the United States his secretary and later life-mate Denise Vernac (1916-1984), who was 31 years younger than him. Although he never divorced from his wife, he finally left the U.S. after his failure as a director and lacking film roles. He settled to France in the castle of his girlfriend who enabled von Stroheim to continue his life of self-creation. He always wore his golden watch and bracelet, his stick with silver knob and dressed like a baron. Totally unaware that he could never reestablish himself as a film director, he continued writing screenplays that would never be filmed. His style of writing was so clumsy that he could not even publish the novels that he also wrote. He drew whole film scenarios that never would be put in scene. Meanwhile he appeared in main roles in French and again in American movies in which he played his usual roles in order to forget that he sat, as a director, unnoticed by the world in the castle of his girlfriend, writing letters of love to his wife, but fully depending financially on his girlfriend, his only public performances being his showing-ups in Paris' most expensive high-society restaurant "Maxims" where everybody knew him. In order to get there from Maurepas, where von Stroheim and Denise Vernac lived, they had to drive each evening a long way. Often, von Stroheim presented himself in the restaurant in the costumes of the barons and generals that he played on screen: the borders between reality and fantasy were abolished. However, he did not lack a special kind of self-irony, and this is shown best in "Foolish wives", where a girl is reading a book with the same title, allegedly written by Erich von Stroheim or in another movie where he played a megalomaniac film director. But nevertheless, he acted in real life, and his life of self-creation was doubtless his greatest role. In this context, is seems almost ironical that only a few days before his death the state of France appointed him knight of the honorary legion: Erich von Stroheim's only real award that was not created by himself.

Reviewed by guy-bellinger 9 /10

Prince of eccentrics

Lots has been written on the subject and like many others I highly enjoyed the beautiful cinematography, the reconstitution ( both impressive and accurate to the minutest details ), the wit of the titles. However, what actually carried me away is the recurrence of weird finds. In what other movie indeed can you find details like these : - a countess pinching the arm of her maid - a man drinking a calf's blood cocktail first thing in the morning - a US special envoy having trouble in taking off his gloves in front of a prince - a disaster-movie summer storm preventing two would-be sinners from going beyond the point of no return - a wicked hypocrite shedding tears of...TEA ?

Stroheim is really the prince of eccentrics ( and not a bogus one ! ) and we love him for that

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