[Note: The following review is of a non-Peary title; click here to read more.]
“Never before had a studio so ruthlessly exercised its power over a major director.”
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
Unfortunately, while the film does an admirable job demonstrating why and how von Stroheim’s career took such a rapid nosedive, certain elements of his personal life remain frustratingly opaque. For instance, we’re told that he had a lover during many of his later years, yet he remained married until his death, and this wife — who’s interviewed for the film — doesn’t seem particularly upset; in addition, we can’t help wishing interview clips with von Stroheim himself were included (are there any? there must be). Regardless, this engaging documentary remains must-see viewing for all film fanatics, and it’s a puzzling omission from Peary’s GFTFF. Fortunately, it’s easily available for viewing these days on a Kino DVD release of Foolish Wives, as a full-length second feature.
Note: The film’s title refers to the nickname von Stroheim earned during his early years as a character actor, playing a villain — a trend he continued even as he gave himself starring roles in his own films (viz. his vile Count Karamzin in Foolish Wives, to name the most obvious example).
Redeeming Qualities and Moments: