Wednesday, June 2, 2010
Erich Von Stroheim- One of the great early directors.
Erich Von Stroheim, began working in movies in small parts and as a consultant on German culture and fashion. His first film, in 1915, was The Country Boy in which he was uncredited. His first credited role was in, Old Heidelberg.
He began working with D. W. Griffith, taking uncredited roles in Intolerance. Later, he performed in, Sylvia of the Secret Service, The Hun Within and In The Heart of Humanity.
Following the end of the First World War, Stroheim began to write and direct his own script for Blind Husbands in 1919. He also performed in the film.
His next directorial efforts were the lost film The Devil's Pass Key (1919) and Foolish Wives (1922), in which he also performed.
In 1923, Stroheim began work on Merry-Go-Round. He cast actor Norman Kerry in a part written for himself 'Count Franz Maximilian Von Hohenegg' and Mary Philbin in the lead actress role. Irving Thalberg fired Von Stroheim during filming and replaced him with director Rupert Julian.
Foolish Wives, is Probably Stroheim's best remembered work as a director. Stroheim filmed mostly at the locations San Francisco and Death Valley. After his attempts to cut it to three hours were rejected by the studio, MGM cut the film to a little over two hours, and, in what is considered one of the greatest losses in cinema history. The film was partially reconstructed in 1999 by Producer Rick Schmidlin, using the existing footage mixed with surviving still photographs.
Stroheim followed with the films: The Merry Widow (his most commercially successful film), The Wedding March and The Honeymoon.
In 1929, Stroheim was fired as the director of the film, Queen Kelly, after disagreements with star Gloria Swanson and producer Joseph P. Kennedy over the costs of the film and the indecent subject matter.
After Queen Kelly and Walking Down Broadway, films from which Stroheim was also fired, Stroheim returned as an actor, in both American and French films.
Working in France, Stroheim was going to direct the film La dame blanche from his own story and screenplay. Jean Renoir wrote the dialogue, Jacques Becker was to be assistant director and Stroheim himself, Louis Jouvet and Jean-Louis Barrault were to be the featured actors. The production came to a stop because of the war on September 1, 1939, and Stroheim returned to the United States.
He is perhaps best known as an actor for his role as von Rauffenstein in Jean Renoir's La Grande Illusion (1937) and as Max von Mayerling in Sunset Boulevard(1950). Stroheim was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. Excerpts from Queen Kelly were used in the film. The character says that he used to be one of the three great directors of the silent era, along with D.W. Griffith and Cecil B. DeMille; many film critics believe that Stroheim was one of the great early directors. After learning about Erich Von Stroheim, watching Sunset Blvd. will not be quite the same for me..
1920's Silent Hollywood "Erich von Stroheim" Part One and Two.