Erich von Stroheim - Rotten Tomatoes

Erich von Stroheim



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.

Filmography

MOVIES

RATING TITLE CREDIT YEAR
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
  • 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
1938
No Score Yet Les disparus de St. Agil (Boys' School)
  • Actor
1938
100% San Francisco
  • Screenwriter
1936
87% 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
  • Screenwriter
  • Director
1929
67% The Great Gabbo
  • Gabbo
1929
71% The Wedding March
  • Screenwriter
  • Prince Nikki/Von Wildiebe-Rauffenburg Nicki / Prince Nickolas von Wildeliebe-Rauffenburg
  • Director
1928
No Score Yet The Merry Widow
  • Director
  • Producer
  • Screenwriter
1925
100% Greed
  • Producer
  • Screenwriter
  • Director
1925
No Score Yet Merry-Go-Round
  • Director
1925
No Score Yet Universal & MGM Studio Tour 1925
  • Actor
1925
No Score Yet The Merry-Go-Round
  • Director
1923
No Score Yet Souls for Sale
  • Actor
1923
89% Foolish Wives
  • Count Sergius Karamzin
  • Director
1922
No Score Yet Blind Husbands
  • Director
  • Lieutenant von Steuben
  • Screenwriter
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
100% 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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