Erich von Stroheim

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Erich von Stroheim
Erich von Stroheim.lowrey.jpg
Born Erich Oswald Stroheim
(1885-09-22)September 22, 1885
Vienna, Austria-Hungary
Died May 12, 1957(1957-05-12) (aged 71)
Maurepas, France
Occupation Actor, director, screenwriter, producer
Years active 1914–1955
Spouse(s) Margaret Knox (1913–1915; divorced)
Mae Jones (1916–1919; divorced; 1 son, Eric von Stroheim, 1916-1968)
Valerie Germonprez (1920–1957 to his death; 1 son, Josef von Stroheim, 1921-2002 )
Denise Vernac (never officially married)

Erich Oswald Hans Carl Maria von Stroheim (born Erich Oswald Stroheim; September 22, 1885 – May 12, 1957) was an Austrian-American director, actor and producer, most noted as a film star and avant garde, visionary director of the silent era. His masterpiece adaptation of Frank Norris's McTeague entitled Greed is considered one of the finest and most important films ever made. After clashes with Hollywood studio bosses over budget and workers' rights issues, von Stroheim was banned for life as a director and subsequently became a well-respected character actor, particularly in French cinema. For his early innovations as a director, von Stroheim is still celebrated as one of the first of the auteur directors.[1] He died in 1957 in France of prostate cancer at the age of 71. Beloved by Parisian neo-Surrealists known as Letterists, in 1979 Letterist Maurice Lemaitre directed a seventy-minute homage to von Stroheim entitled Erich von Stroheim.

Background[edit]

Stroheim was born in Vienna, Austria, in 1885 as Erich Oswald Stroheim, (some sources give Hans Erich Maria Stroheim von Nordenwall,[2][3] but this seems to have been an assumed name, see below), the son of Benno Stroheim, a middle-class hat-maker, and Johanna Bondy, both of whom were observant Jews.[4]

Stroheim emigrated to America at the end of 1909.[5] On arrival at Ellis Island, he claimed to be Count Erich Oswald Hans Carl Maria von Stroheim und Nordenwall, the son of Austrian nobility like the characters he played in his films, but both Billy Wilder and Stroheim's agent Paul Kohner claimed that he spoke with a decidedly lower-class Austrian accent. Jean Renoir writes in his memoirs: “Stroheim spoke hardly any German. He had to study his lines like a schoolboy learning a foreign language.”[6] Later, while living in Europe, Stroheim claimed in published remarks to have "forgotten" his native tongue. In Renoir's movie La Grande Illusion, Stroheim speaks German with a strong American accent. Similarly, in his French-speaking roles, von Stroheim speaks French with pronounced American accent.

However, the fashion photographer Helmut Newton, whose first language was German, used a clip from a Stroheim film on which to base one of his fantasy nude photographs, and he has commented that in the clip Stroheim speaks "a very special kind of Prussian officer lingo - it's very abrupt: it's very, very funny".[7]

Von Stroheim was known to his friends and family as "Von."

Film career[edit]

By 1914 he was working in Hollywood. He began working in movies in bit-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 came in Old Heidelberg.

He began working with D. W. Griffith, taking uncredited roles in Intolerance. Additionally, Stroheim acted as one of the many assistant directors on Intolerance, a film remembered in part for its huge cast of extras. Later, with America's entry into World War I, he played sneering German villains in such films as Sylvia of the Secret Service and The Hun Within. In The Heart of Humanity, he tears the buttons from a nurse's uniform with his teeth, and when disturbed by a crying baby, throws it out of a window.

Following the end of the war, Stroheim turned to writing and then directed his own script for Blind Husbands in 1919. He also starred in the film. As a director, Stroheim was known to be dictatorial and demanding, often antagonizing his actors. He is considered one of the greatest directors of the silent era, creating films that represent cynical and romantic views of human nature. (In the 1932 film The Lost Squadron Stroheim played a parody of himself as a fanatic German film director making a World War I movie who orders extras playing dead soldiers to "Stay dead!")

His next directorial efforts were the lost film The Devil's Pass Key (1919) and Foolish Wives (1922), in which he also starred. Studio publicity for Foolish Wives claimed that it was the first film to cost one million dollars.

In 1923, Stroheim began work on Merry-Go-Round. He cast the American actor Norman Kerry as Count Franz Maximilian von Hohenegg, a part written for himself, and newcomer Mary Philbin in the lead actress role. However studio executive Irving Thalberg fired Stroheim during filming and replaced him with director Rupert Julian.

Erich von Stroheim as Sergius Karamzin in Foolish Wives

Probably Stroheim's best remembered work as a director is Greed, a detailed filming of the novel McTeague by Frank Norris. He originally started it as a project with Samuel Goldwyn's Goldwyn Pictures. Stroheim had long wanted to do a film version of the book. He originally intended it to be a highly detailed reproduction of the original, shot mostly at the locations described in the book in San Francisco and Death Valley. Von Stroheim shot in San Francisco with his actors in period dress and Silent Movie makeup while the city itself was represented in its modern form. Automobiles can be seen in the background of some scenes and any "extras" or passersby are in (what was for the time) modern clothing. When the production did move to Death Valley it was in the middle of summer. Greed is also considered by some film historians to be the first feature-length film shot on location. The original print ran for an astonishing 10 hours. Knowing this version was far too long, Stroheim cut out almost half the footage, reducing it to a six-hour version to be shown over two nights. It was still deemed too long, so Stroheim and director Rex Ingram edited it into a four-hour version that could be shown in two parts.

However, in the midst of filming, Goldwyn Pictures was bought by Marcus Loew and merged into Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. After rejecting Stroheim's attempts to cut it to less than three hours, MGM removed Greed from his control and gave it to head scriptwriter June Mathis, with orders to cut it down to a manageable length.[8] Mathis gave the print to a routine cutter, who reduced it to 2.5 hours.[9] In what is considered one of the greatest losses in cinema history, a janitor destroyed the cut footage.

The shortened release version was a box-office failure, and was angrily disowned by Stroheim. In particular, he blamed Mathis for destroying his pet project, since she was credited as a writer due to contractual obligations.[10] However, Mathis had worked with Stroheim before and had long admired him, so it is not likely she would have indiscriminately butchered his film.[11] The film was partially reconstructed in 1999 by Producer Rick Schmidlin, using the existing footage mixed with surviving still photographs, but the original cut of Greed has passed into cinema lore as a lost masterpiece.

Stroheim followed with a commercial project, The Merry Widow (his most commercially successful film) and the more personal The Wedding March and the now-lost The Honeymoon.

Stroheim's unwillingness or inability to modify his artistic principles for the commercial cinema, his extreme attention to detail, his insistence on near-total artistic freedom and the resulting costs of his films led to fights with the studios. As time went on he received fewer directing opportunities.

In 1929, Stroheim was dismissed as the director of the film Queen Kelly after disagreements with star Gloria Swanson and producer and financier Joseph P. Kennedy over the mounting costs of the film and Stroheim's introduction of indecent subject matter into the film's scenario.

After Queen Kelly and Walking Down Broadway, a project from which Stroheim was also dismissed, Stroheim returned to working principally as an actor, in both American and French films.

Working in France on the eve of World War II, Stroheim was prepared 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. Max Cossvan was to produce the film for Demo-Film. The production was prevented by the outbreak of the war on September 1, 1939, and Stroheim returned to the United States.[12]

Stroheim also participated in plays. He is seen here as Jonathan Brewster in the Broadway version of Arsenic and Old Lace. Stroheim assumed the role from Boris Karloff and was part of the cast from circa 1941 to 1943.

Stroheim is perhaps best known as an actor for his role as Rauffenstein in Jean Renoir's La Grande Illusion (1937) and as Max von Mayerling in Billy Wilder's Sunset Boulevard (1950).

For the latter film, which co-starred Gloria Swanson, Stroheim was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. Excerpts from Queen Kelly were used in the film. The Mayerling character states 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 agree that Stroheim was indeed one of the great early directors. Stroheim's character in Sunset Boulevard thus had an autobiographical basis that reflected the humiliations suffered through his career.

He appeared as a guest star in the 1953 anthology drama television series Orient Express in the episode entitled The Man of Many Skins.[13]

Stroheim was married three times. He was married to Margaret Knox from 1913 to 1915; His second marriage was to Mae Jones from 1916 to 1919. He was never divorced from his third wife Valerie Germonprez, though he lived with actress Denise Vernac, from 1939 until his death. Vernac also starred with him in several films. Two of Stroheim's sons eventually joined the film business: Erich Jr. (1916–1968) as an assistant director [14] and Josef (1922–2002) as a sound editor.[15]

Stroheim spent the last part of his life in France, where his silent film work was much admired by artists in the French film industry. In France he acted in films, wrote several novels that were published in French, and worked on various unrealized film projects. He was awarded the French Legion of Honor (Légion d'honneur) shortly before his death.

In 1956, Stroheim began to suffer severe back pain that was diagnosed as cancer. He eventually became paralyzed and was carried to his drawing room to receive the Legion of Honor award from an official delegation. He died at his chateau in Maurepas near Paris on May 12, 1957 at age 71, accompanied by his longtime lover, Denise Vernac.

Filmography[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1912 An Unseen Enemy Man in straw hat dancing by desk in lobby Director: D. W. Griffith. Co-stars: Lillian Gish and Dorothy Gish. Short Film. Extant.
1915 Old Heidelberg Lutz: Prince Karl's valet; film about university life Director: John Emerson. Co-stars: Wallace Reid and Dorothy Gish. Extant.
1916 The Social Secretary The Buzzard: a nosy NYC newspaper reporter (featured role) Director: John Emerson. Uncredited Second Director: von Stroheim. Producer: D.W. Griffith. Screenplay: John Emerson and Anita Loos. Starring: Norma Talmadge. Set in NYC. U.S. production. Romantic Comedy. Extant.
1916 The Flying Torpedo Accomplice—a German officer Directors: John B. O'Brien & Christy Cabanne. Futuristic: Set in 1921. Lost.
1916 His Picture in the Papers Anti-vegetarian silent comedy set in NYC, von Stroheim plays an eye-patch-wearing gang member of the "Weazels" Director: John Emerson. Co-written by Anita Loos. Starring Douglas Fairbanks. Extant.
1918 The Unbeliever Lt. Kurt von Schnieditz Director: Alan Crosland. Propaganda and war film. Set in the trenches during World War One. Extant.
1918 The Heart of Humanity Eric von Eberhard - a lecherous "Hun" Director: Alan Holubar. War and Propaganda film. Follows story of U.S. Red Cross nurse stationed in Belgium and France during World War One. Extant.
1919 Blind Husbands Lieutenant Eric Von Steuben Director, screenwriter, producer, and star: von Stroheim. Set in the Austrian alps. Extant.
1920 The Devil's Pass Key Director and screenwriter: von Stroheim. Set in Paris. Extant.
1922 Foolish Wives Count Wladislaw Sergius Karamzin (Russian Captain of Hussars): false Russian nobleman and con artist Director, screenwriter, and star: von Stroheim. Set in Monaco. Comedy. Extant.
1923 Merry-Go-Round Director and screenwriter: von Stroheim. Set in pre-WW I Vienna. A disguised nobleman falls in love with a circus puppeteer's daughter. Extant.
1924 Greed Balloon vendor - uncredited Director and screenplay adaptation: von Stroheim. Based on Frank Norris's 1899 novel McTeague. Starring von Stroheim muse ZaSu Pitts. Considered one of cinema's most important films. At 8 hours, it is one of the longest feature films in cinematic history. Much of the film is lost.
1925 The Merry Widow Director, screenwriter and producer: von Stroheim. Starring Mae Murray. Small roles: Joan Crawford and Clark Gable. Extant.
1928 The Wedding March Nicki / Prince Nickolas von Wildeliebe-Rauffenburg. Co-starring role. Director and star: von Stroheim. Co-stars: Fay Wray and ZaSu Pitts. Set in Vienna. Extant.
1928 Tempest Director: Sam Taylor. Co-writer: von Stroheim. Starring John Barrymore as a peasant Russian army officer who falls in love with a Russian princess in Czarist Russia. Von Stroheim was supposed to star in and direct this film but was taken off the project and replaced by Sam Taylor. Drama. Extant.
1929 The Great Gabbo The Great Gabbo - a U.S. based ventriloquist. Starring role. Director: James Cruze. Screenplay source: Ben Hecht's short story "The Rival Dummy". Von Stroheim's "talkie" debut. Drama and Musical. Extant
1930 Three Faces East Valdar/Shiller/Blecher: London butler who is actually a powerful German spy. Co-starring role. Director: Roy Del Ruth. Score: Paul Lamkoff. Co-Star: Constance Bennett. Set in London during WW I. U.S. production. War drama. Extant.
1931 Friends and Lovers Victor Sangrito: a cruel, blackmailing husband and rare porcelain dealer. Featured role. Director: Victor Schertzinger. Adapted from a novel by: Maurice Dekobra. Score: Victor Schertzinger and Max Steiner. Costumes: Max Ree. Art Production: Max Ree. Co-starring: Adolphe Menjou, Lili Damita, Laurence Olivier. Set in Calcutta amid the British Raj. U.S. production. Drama. Extant.
1932 Queen Kelly Director, screenwriter, co-producer: von Stroheim. Joseph P. Kennedy Sr. and Gloria Swanson hired von Stroheim to write and direct this Swanson vehicle in 1928-1929. Silent film. A German prince falls in love with an orphan who inherits an African brothel. It is the film snippet that plays during the home movie scene in Billy Wilder's Sunset Blvd.. Never released in the U.S. Incomplete.
1932 The Lost Squadron Arthur von Furst: dictatorial Hollywood film director. Co-starring role. Directors: George Archainbaud and Paul Sloane. Co-stars: Mary Astor and Joel McCrea. 3 WW I flying aces find work in Hollywood as film stunt pilots post-war. Likely based to some extent on the tragic death of Mary Astor's newly wed husband and Howard Hawks's brother Kenneth Hawks. Astor and Kenneth Hawks had been married only two years and were living on Appian Way in Laurel Canyon (in a house later owned by Ida Lupino) when Kenneth, directing a film about WW I flying aces, crashed into the waves in Santa Monica California when a stunt plane and his film-crew plane collided mid-air. Drama. Extant.
1932 As You Desire Me Carl Salter: alcoholic Budapest-based novelist. Co-starring role. Director: George Fitzmaurice. Costumes: Adrian. Based on a story by Luigi Pirandello. Also starring Greta Garbo and Melvyn Douglas. An Italian countess with amnesia post-WW I lives in Budapest with her cruel lover (von Stroheim) and then reunites with her husband (Melvyn Douglas). U.S. production. Drama. Extant.
1933 Hello, Sister! Director and screenwriter: von Stroheim. Working title: "Strolling Down Broadway." Starring ZaSu Pitts. A casual pick-up on Broadway leads to an unplanned pregnancy. Von Stroheim's final official directorial effort (he may have co-directed Fugitive Road in 1934). U.S. production. Drama. Extant.
1934 Fugitive Road Hauptmann Oswald von Traunsee: Austrian military officer in charge of a border outpost during WW 1. Starring role. Directors: Frank R. Strayer and possibly von Stroheim. Screenplay co-writer: possibly von Stroheim. U.S. production. War comedy. Extant.
1934 Crimson Romance Captain Wolters: World War 1 German airforce officer. Featured role. Director: David Howard. A German-American leaves the U.S. and joins the German air force, driven out by anti-German hysteria. His best friend accompanies him and also joins the air force. They both fall in love with the same woman, an ambulance driver. Von Stroheim is a supporting player. Low-budget. War drama. Extant.
1936 The Crime of Dr. Crespi Dr. Andre Crespi: invents a serum that allows him to bury his victims alive. Starring role. Director: John H. Auer. Based on Edgar Allan Poe's short story "The Premature Burial". U.S. production. Low budget. Horror. Extant.
1936 The Devil-Doll Director: Tod Browning. Co-Screenplay adaptation: von Stroheim. Adapted from Abraham Merritt's 1932 novel Burn Witch Burn!. Score: Franz Waxman. Set in Paris and French penal colony of Cayenne in French Guiana known as Ile du Diable or Devil's Island. Co-starring Maureen O'Sullivan and Lionel Barrymore. Wrongly accused banker escapes prison and returns to Paris to wreck revenge through shrunken humans. This will be Browning's second-to-last film. Horror. Extant.
1937 Between Two Women Original Story: Erich von Stroheim Director: George B. Seitz. Film's theme of a female burn victim echoes the actual experience in 1933 of von Stroheim's wife Valerie who was burned in a Hollywood (shop located on Sunset Boulevard) beauty parlor explosion. Extant.
1937 Under Secret Orders a.k.a. Mademoiselle Docteur Col. W. Mathesius/Simonis: German officer, spy, and spy recruiter. Co-starring role. Director: Edmond T. Greville. Co-starring: Dita Parlo and Claire Luce. Set in London during WW I. Based on a Pabst film. Replicated by Sam Wood as Stamboul Quest and Alberto Lattuarda as Fraulein Docteur. British production. War drama. Extant.
1937 La Grande Illusion Captain von Rauffenstein: commander of a POW camp/castle. Featured role. Director: Jean Renoir. Co-starring Dita Parlo and Jean Gabin. The cultural importance of this film cannot be overstated. Nominated for an Academy Award. Set during WW 1. French production. War drama. Extant.
1937 Marthe Richard Baron Erich von Ludow: World War 1 naval attache and spymaster who commits suicide over romantic and national betrayals. Co-starring role. Director: Raymond Bernard. Based on French prostitute, spy, and politician Marthe Richard. Von Stroheim's character based on German officer and naval attache Hans von Krohn/Crohn. Set in Germany, France, and Spain during and pre-WW I. French production. War drama and biopic. Extant.
1937 The Alibi le professeur Winckler: a Parisian nightclub hypnotist, conman, and murderer. Starring role. Director: Pierre Chenal. Co-starring: Albert Prejean and Louis Jouvet. Set in Paris. Low budget. French production. Murder mystery. Extant.
1938 Boys' School a.k.a. Les disparus de St. Agil. Walter: eerie English Language teacher at Parisian boarding school. Featured role. Director: Christian-Jaque. Adapted from a novel of the same title by Pierre Very. Some dialogue by: Jacques Prevert. Co-starring: Charles Aznavour and Serge Reggiani. French production. Murder mystery. Extant.
1938 Gibraltar a.k.a. It Happened in Gibraltar Marson: supposed hairdresser who is actually a terrorist blowing up UK battleships in Gibraltar. Co-starring role. Director: Fedor Ozep/ Fyodor Otsep. Co-star: Viviane Romance as a flamenco dancer. French production. War drama. Extant.
1938 Ultimatum Yugoslavian General and Prime Minister Dusan Simovic. Directors: Robert Wiene and Robert Siodmak. Co-starring: Dita Parlo. Adapted from novel by Ewald Bertram Days Before the Storm. Historical film depicting the July Crisis in Serbia and the events leading to World War 1. In exile from Nazi Germany, director Robert Wiene, famous for his silent films including The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920) and Raskolnkikow (1923) died from a heart attack and the effects of cancer while making this film. His friend director Robert Siodmak took over production. French production. War drama/Historical drama. Extant.
1939 Personal Column in France known as Pieges Pears: Parisian fashion designer. Featured role. Director:Robert Siodmak. Co-starring: Maurice Chevalier and Pierre Renoir. Remade in 1947 by Douglas Sirk as Lured starring Lucille Ball. French production. Murder mystery. Extant.
1939 Behind the Facade Eric: card sharp cheating with his business partner's American fiancée. Both recently naturalized French citizens. Cameo. Directors: Georges Lacombe and Yves Mirande. Also featured: Michel Simon and Lucien Baroux. Ensemble cast featured in vignettes. Comic murder mystery. French production. Extant.
1940 I Was an Adventuress Andre Desormeaux: international jewel thief. Co-starring role. Director: Gregory Ratoff. Score: David Buttolph. Co-stars: Peter Lorre and Vera Zorina. Set in Europe and Paris. Caper comedy. U.S (Twentieth Century Fox) production. Extant.
1940 Macao, l'enfer du jeu (fr) Werner von Krall: international arms smuggler and dealer. Co-starring role. Director: Jean Delannoy. France's Vichy government insisted Delannoy and producer Andre Paulve delete all of von Stroheim's scenes and replace him with actor Pierre Renoir. In 1945, von Stroheim's role was restored in the film. French production. Extant.
1941 So Ends Our Night Brenner: Nazi SS officer tries to tempt escaped concentration camp refugee into naming names. Featured role. Director: John Cromwell. Adapted from a novel by Erich Maria Remarque. Co-starring: Fredric March, Margaret Sullavan, and Glenn Ford. U.S. production. War drama. Extant.
1943 Five Graves to Cairo Field Marshal Erwin Rommel. Co-starring role. Director: Billy Wilder. Screenplay: Billy Wilder and Charles Brackett. Score: Miklós Rózsa. Cinematography: John F. Seitz. Costumes: Edith Head. Co-starring: Franchot Tone, Anne Baxter, and Akim Tamiroff. Semi-comic approach to the material. Filmed in the Mojave and Yuma Arizona deserts. U.S. production. War drama and historical film. Extant.
1943 The North Star Dr. von Harden: Nazi doctor who drains blood from Ukrainian village children to infuse into German soldiers. Featured role. Director: Lewis Milestone. Original story and screenplay: Lillian Hellman. Cinematography: James Wong Howe. Score: Aaron Copland. Co-stars: Anne Baxter, Dana Andrews, Walter Huston, Walter Brennan, Jane Withers, Farley Granger, Dean Jagger. U.S. production. War drama/propaganda. Extant.
1944 The Lady and the Monster Prof. Franz Mueller: experimental scientist who keeps a dead miser's brain alive. Starring role. Director: George Sherman. Adapted from Curt Siodmak's novel Donovan's Brain. Co-star: Vera Ralston. Cinematography: John Alton. Gothic castle in the Arizona desert. Remade in 1953 as Donovan's Brain. U.S. production. Low budget. Horror film. Extant.
1944 Storm Over Lisbon Deresco: spy for Japan who owns a Lisbon nightclub as a front. Co-starring role. Director: George Sherman. Cinematography: John Alton. Co-star: Vera Ralston. U.S. production. Low budget. War drama. Extant.
1945 The Great Flamarion The Great Flamarion: ex-World War 1 German army officer working as a sharp shooter in the U.S. vaudeville circuit. Starring role. Director: Anthony Mann. Score: Alexander Laszlo. Co-starring: Mary Beth Hughes and Dan Duryea. Set in Mwxico City, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. Anthony Mann's seventh film. Von Stroheim's first film noir. U.S. production. Low budget. Film Noir. Extant.
1945 Scotland Yard Investigator Carl Hoffmeyer: infamous German art collector determined to steal the Mona Lisa at outbreak of World War 2. Starring role. Director: George Blair. Set in Paris and London. U.S. production. Low budget. War drama. Extant.
1946 The Mask of Diijon Diijon: famous hypnotist attempts a comeback in the U.S. nightclub circuit. Starring role. Director: George Blair. U.S. production. Low budget. Film noir. Extant.
1946 Devil and the Angel. French title: La Foire aux Chimeres. Frank Davis: lonely, facially disfigured master-engraver for a bank who falls in love with a blind circus performer. Starring role. Director: Pierre Chenal. Co-star: Madeleine Sologne. A much underrated work of French poetic realism. French production. Film noir. Extant.
1946 Danse de Mort Edgar: a bitter, fallen prison warden in charge of a sunless, island fortress. Starring role. Extant. Director: Marcel Cravenne. Co-starring: Denise Vernac, von Stroheim's wife. Some claim this role and Frank Davis in Devil and Angel are among von Stroheim's finest performances. Adapted from an August Strindberg play.
1949 Portrait of an Assassin Eric: former circus acrobat/trick motorcycle rider forced to retire due to severe work-related injuries. Starring role. Director: Bernard Roland. Co-starring: Maria Montez and Arletty. Von Stroheim's role was originally written for Orson Welles who was sued for not performing in this film. French production. Film noir. Extant.
1949 Le Signal rouge Le docteur Mathias Berthold: a widower whose wife was killed in a train accident sleep walks and sabotages train tracks until he is cured by Viennese psychiatrists. Starring role. Director: Ernst Neubach. Co-starring von Stroheim's wife Denise Vernac.
1950 Sunset Boulevard Max von Mayerling: ex-Hollywood silent film director now working as butler for his ex-wife and ex-silent film star Norma Desmond. Featured role. Director: Billy Wilder. Screenplay: Wilder and Charles Brackett. Co-starring: William Holden and Gloria Swanson. Film nominated for many Academy Awards. Von Stroheim nominated for Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. Set in Hollywood, California. Often on top-ten lists of "greatest noirs" or "greatest films." U.S. production. Film noir. Extant.
1952 Alraune Professor Jacob ten Brinken: experimental genetic scientist who creates the "perfect" yet soulless woman through artificial insemination. Starring role. Director: Arthur Maria Rabenalt. Co-star: Hildegard Knef. Based on novel of the same name by Hanns Heinz Ewers and Henrik Galeen's 1928 silent film of the same title starring Brigitte Helm. Galeen's film is known by other titles including Mandrake, Unholy Love, and Daughter of Destiny. West German production. Horror. Extant.
1953 Midnight . . . Quai de Bercy a.k.a. Minuit . . . Quai de Bercy Professeur Kieffer: a religious fanatic who distributes pamphlets to strip-club patrons. Cameo. Director: Christian Stengel. A whodunit. A Parisian landlady is murdered and there are many suspects.
1953 Alarm in Morocco a.k.a. Alerte au Sud Conrad Nagel. Co-starring role (?). Director: Jean-Devaivre. Set in French Morocco. Two members of the Foreign Legion uncover a nuclear weapon test site. Von Stroheim's first color film. French-Italian production. Adventure film. Extant.
1953 The Other Side of Paradise a.k.a. L'envers du Paradis William O'Hara: eccentric sea captain living in a southern French village. Cameo. Director: Edmond T. Greville. Score: Paul Mistaki. Set in Segnac, Provence. Black and white. French production. Drama. Extant.
1955 Napoléon Ludwig van Beethoven. Cameo. Director/co-star: Sacha Guitry. Both von Stroheim and Orson Welles have minor, featured roles in the film. Color. Franco-Italian production. Historical epic. Extant.
1955 The Infiltrator. Original French title: Serie noire Sacha Zavaroff: a Russian mob boss. Cameo. Director: Pierre Foucaud. Corsican gangsters.
1955 Madonna of the Sleeping Cars a.k.a. La madone des sleepings Doctor Siegfried Traurig German psychiatrist on the Orient Express. Featured role. Director: Henri Diamant-Berger. Adaptation from 1925 novel of same title by Maurice Dekobra and 1928 silent film, also with the same title. Co-starring: Jean Gaven. Von Stroheim's final film. Black and white. French production. Spy thriller comedy. Extant.

Quotes[edit]

"Lubitsch shows you first the king on the throne, then as he is in the bedroom. I show you the king in the bedroom so you'll know just what he is when you see him on his throne."[16]

"If you live in France, for instance, and you have written one good book, or painted one good picture, or directed one outstanding film fifty years ago and nothing else since, you are still recognized and honored accordingly. People take their hats off to you and call you "maître". They do not forget. In Hollywood—in Hollywood, you're as good as your last picture. If you didn't have one in production within the last three months, you're forgotten, no matter what you have achieved ere this."[17]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Obituary Variety, May 15, 1957, page 75.
  2. ^ Das Bertelsmann Lexikon. C. Bertelsmann. 1966. 
  3. ^ Joseph Francis Clarke (1977). Pseudonyms. BCA. p. 168. 
  4. ^ Koszarski, Richard. Von: The Life and Films of Erich von Stroheim. New York: Limelight Editions, 2001. p. 4.
  5. ^ Koszarski, op. cit. p. 3.
  6. ^ Renoir, Jean. Ma Vie et mes films (Flammarion, 1974) p.150. Renoir writes of the filming of La Grande Illusion : "An amusing detail was that Stroheim barely spoke German. He had to study his lines like a schoolboy learns a text in a foreign language. In the eyes of the whole world, he remains nevertheless the perfect example of the German soldier. His genius triumphs over the literal copy of reality."
  7. ^ 1:30:30 - 1:32:00 Frames From the Edge - Helmut Newton
  8. ^ Unterburger, Amy L.; Foster, Gwendolyn Audrey (1999). The St. James Women Filmmakers Encyclopedia: Women on the Other Side of the Camera. Visible Ink Press. p. 270. ISBN 1-57859-092-2. 
  9. ^ Koszarski, Richard (1983). The Man You loved to Hate: Erich von Stroheim and Hollywood. Oxford University Press. pp. 144–145. ISBN 0-19-503239-X. 
  10. ^ Ward Mahar, Karen (2006). Women Filmmakers in Early Hollywood. JHU Press. p. 200. ISBN 0-8018-8436-5. 
  11. ^ Slater, Thomas J. Moving the Margins to the Mainstream: June Mathis's Work in American Silent Film. International Journal of the Humanities, 2007.
  12. ^ Faulkner, Christopher, Jean Renoir, a guide to references and resources, page 22. Boston, Mass.: G.K. Hall & Company, 1979.
  13. ^ "The Billboard Magazine - TV Film Reviews". October 10, 1953. 
  14. ^ Erich von Stroheim Jr. on IMDb
  15. ^ Josef von Stroheim on IMDb
  16. ^ Stroheim quoted in Georges Sadoul, Dictionary of Films, ed. and trans. Peter Morris (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1972) 217.
  17. ^ Eulogy for D.W. Griffith, reprinted in The Man You Loved To Hate, by Richard Koszarski, page 282.

External links[edit]