Skip to main content

FOOLISH WIVES

USA, 1921 (MIFF 1964)

Director: Erich von Stroheim

This many faceted view of the gay life in Monte Carlo immediately following the Armistice of 1918 is a dar­ingly humorous and subtly provocative sexual comedy that shocked the film goers of its day. It was the fulfillment of the approach indicated by von Stroheim's two earlier films.

Set in a magnificent chateau near Monte Carlo, von Stroheim plays Count Karamzin, a bogus Russian aristo­crat who resides there with his two 'cousins' . Living on their wits, hev gamble heavily at the casino,pass counterfeit notes, run up credit and take any easy money that comes their way.The Count has a nice line in blackmail involving wealthy married women. The wife of ihe American Ambassador is caught up in his schemes, but before he can bring the affair to a successful conclusion he is murdered by the irate father of a gul he had previously seduced.

This fantastic tale is told with a brilliant and massive accumulation of detail. Untidily constructed, shifting in its emphasis, it seems at times to be encompassing loo much, but its dramatic tension survives through masterly character studies and unfailing conviction The sellings show the flowering of von Stroheim's passion for detail, which he so much admired in Griffith.

Foolish Wives contains al once promise and fulfillment: it is a kind of prelude to von Stroheim's more mature works, culminating in what critics consider his masterpiece, Greed.

See also...

THE WEDDING MARCH

This powerful and complex picture of the collapsing Viennese artistocracy is set against the touching story of a rake (von Stroheim), the poor girl he loves (Fay Wray), and the heiress he is forced ... More »

PUNK SINGER, The

"Both a captivating personal story and a history of a moment - as the best rock documentaries are." - Flavorwire ... As a founder of the riot grrrl movement in the 1990s, singer Kathleen Hanna was a ... More »

Divertissement Rococo

A film in the new genre which uses electronic and other artificial devices to produce abstract patterns of form and motion, with an accompaniment of eighteenth century "rococo music". ... More »

HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES

Director Rob Zombie (of classic trash thrashers White Zombie) directs and provides the soundtrack for this wonderfully insane gore fest. With a plot mixing ill-fated brain experiments, creepy clowns ... More »

Blind Spot

An evocative exploration of emotional landscapes, Blind Spot flickers on the retina like a poignant memory. Its conscious stream of fragmented images and enigmatically composed soundtrack slip in and ... More »

Select a festival
Search The Film Archive
Browse By Director