Wedding March, The (1928)

“There is no such thing as accident. It is Fate — mis-named.”

Wedding March Poster

Synopsis:
A fun-loving Viennese prince (Erich von Stroheim) is warned by his parents (George Fawcett and Maude George) that he must marry for money in order to maintain his sumptuous lifestyle; but despite becoming engaged to a club-footed heiress (Zasu Pitts), he falls in love with a beautiful innkeeper’s daughter (Fay Wray) whose own fiance (Matthew Betz) is a bullying brute.

Genres:

Review:
Peary seems to be an enormous fan of this fragmented silent epic by Erich von Stroheim, whose notoriously sadistic, perfectionist tendencies on set resulted in a bloated initial cut (11 hours!) which was eventually edited down into two films — this and its sequel, The Honeymoon (the only copy of which was lost in a fire in the 1950s). As with von Stroheim’s Queen Kelly (1929), The Wedding March must thus be viewed as a butchered version of the director’s original vision — yet despite being lauded by many as one of von Stroheim’s finest films, I simply can’t agree. Yes, the cinematography is lovely and the sets painstakingly rendered — but the melodramatic storyline and stereotypical characters (other than Wray’s luminous “Mitzi”) leave one feeling decidedly neutral about the actual proceedings. While it’s argued that the film’s story arc stands just fine on its own, one can’t help feeling that it is indeed (as intended) merely part of a longer, richer narrative. The Wedding March is ultimately only must-see for fans of silent cinema and/or von Stroheim’s uniquely truncated oeuvre.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Fay Wray as Mitzi
    Wedding March Wray
  • Meticulously crafted sets
    Wedding March Sets

Must See?
No; only von Stroheim fans need seek this one out. Listed as a film with Historical Importance and a Personal Recommendation in the back of Peary’s book, and named one of the Best Films of the Year in his Alternate Oscars. Selected for preservation by the National Film Registry.

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