Erich von Stroheim

Erich von Stroheim

  • Highest Rated: 100% Five Graves to Cairo (1943)
  • Lowest Rated: 20% Devil Doll (1964)
  • Birthday: Sep 22, 1885
  • Birthplace: Not Available
  • The son of a Jewish hat manufacturer, born in Vienna, Erich Oswald Von Stroheim moved from running his father's factory to the pinnacle of the Hollywood community as a director, only to fall hard due to his extravagant approach to filmmaking and end up as a peripheral figure. Von Stroheim came to America during the first decade of the twentieth century and supported himself in various jobs before coming to Hollywood in 1914. He was a bit player in several films, and became a member of D.W. Griffith's stock company, parlaying his experience as a bit player into a job as assistant director and military advisor (he had served briefly in the Austro-Hungarian Army) -- he moved into greater prominence in 1917 with American entry into World War I, portraying villainous Prussian officers. He moved into the director's chair at Universal, where he proved a virtual one-man show at first, providing original story, deigning sets, and starring in several of his own films. He quickly showed a talent for translating sexual subject matter -- not yet taboo in Hollywood--onto the screen in ways that were both witty and ostentatious, and his films Blind Husbands, The Devil's Pass Key, and Foolish Wives, were (and remain) among the most acclaimed sophisticated films of the silent era. His autocratic manner in dealing with the studio, coupled with his painstaking attention to detail, however, resulted in production schedules of as long as a year on his movies. He left Universal for Goldwyn Films, which was merged into Metro Pictures during the production of Greed, a monumental film whose 42 reels represented a high-water mark in Von Stroheim's career, but also its effective end--the studio took over the eight hour film and recut it, shortening it to under two hours, and the final release version was condemned by critics and ignored by audiences. He found similar set-backs with The Merry Widow, and he was dismissed from MGM. He directed Queen Kelly (1928), a bizarre story of white slavery and sexual obsession, for its star/producer Gloria Swanson, which proved the effective end of his career when he was fired during production. He directed Walking Down Broadway (1932-33), which was never released and then settled into character roles. With his bald head and stern visage, Von Stroheim was still a well-known screen presence, and he specialized in complex villainous roles, most notably as the cultured commandant of the P.O.W. camp in Jean Renoir's Grand Illusion (1937). In 1950, he made what was probably his most important screen appearance as an actor in an American movie, as Gloria Swanson's fiercely loyal servant in Billy Wilder's Sunset Boulevard (1950). Although repudiated by Hollywood as a filmmaker, Von Stroheim was honored throughout his life by the European filmmaking community, and in the years after his death his work as a director was rediscovered to fresh appreciation by a new generation, and in the '80s Kino International undertook a major restoration and retrospective of Von Stroheim's silent films. The cut 32 reels of Greed remain among the most speculated upon and sought after lost films in screen history.

Highest Rated Movies








No Score Yet Macao, l'enfer du jeu (Gambling Hell) Actor 2013
No Score Yet Hollywood Mavericks Actor 1990
20% Devil Doll Screenwriter 1964
No Score Yet Napoleon Beethoven 1955
No Score Yet Unnatural Jacob ten Brinken 1952
98% Sunset Boulevard Max Von Mayerling 1950
No Score Yet Portrait of an Assassin Eric 1949
No Score Yet Mask of Diijon Diijon 1946
No Score Yet The Great Flamarion The Great Flamarion 1945
No Score Yet The Lady And The Monster Prof. Franz Mueller 1944
No Score Yet The North Star (Armored Attack) Dr. Otto Von Harden 1943
100% Five Graves to Cairo Field Marshal Erwin Rommel 1943
No Score Yet So Ends Our Night Brenner 1941
No Score Yet L'alibi (The Alibi) Actor 1940
97% La Grande illusion (Grand Illusion) Von Rauffenstein $0.2M 1938
No Score Yet Les disparus de St. Agil (Boys' School) Actor 1938
100% San Francisco Screenwriter 1936
81% The Devil-Doll Screenwriter 1936
No Score Yet The Crime of Dr. Crespi Dr. Crespi 1935
No Score Yet Crimson Romance Capt. Wolters 1934
No Score Yet Fugitive Road Hauptmann Oswald Von Traunsee 1934
No Score Yet Hello, Sister! Director 1933
83% As You Desire Me Carl Salter 1932
100% The Lost Squadron Arthur von Furst 1932
100% Queen Kelly Director 1929
67% The Great Gabbo Gabbo 1929
75% The Wedding March Prince Nikki/Von Wildiebe-Rauffenburg Nicki / Prince Nickolas von Wildeliebe-Rauffenburg Screenwriter Director 1928
No Score Yet The Merry Widow Screenwriter Director Producer 1925
100% Greed Screenwriter Producer Director 1925
No Score Yet The Merry-Go-Round Director 1923
No Score Yet Souls for Sale Actor 1923
92% Foolish Wives Count Sergius Karamzin Director Screenwriter 1922
100% Blind Husbands Screenwriter Director Lieutenant von Steuben 1919
No Score Yet Hearts of the World A Hun 1918
No Score Yet The Heart of Humanity Lt. von Eberhard 1918
No Score Yet Reaching for the Moon Actor 1917
97% Intolerance Second Pharisee 1916
98% The Birth of a Nation Man who falls from Roof 1915
No Score Yet Old Heidelberg Lutz 1915
No Score Yet Ghosts Actor 1915


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