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Foolish Wives (1922)

 -  Drama  -  11 January 1922 (USA)
7.4
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Ratings: 7.4/10 from 1,539 users  
Reviews: 15 user | 30 critic

A con artist masquerades a Russian nobility and attempts to seduce the wife of an American diplomat.

Director:

(as Erich Von Stroheim)

Writers:

(story), (titles), 2 more credits »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Rudolph Christians ...
Andrew J. Hughes - U.S. Special-Envoy to Monaco
Miss DuPont ...
Helen - His Wife (as Miss Dupont)
Maude George ...
Her Highness - Princess Olga Petchnikoff
...
Her Cousin - Princess Vera Petchnikoff
...
Their Cousin - Count Sergius Karamzin - Capt. 3rd Hussars Imper. Russian Army (as Erich Von Stroheim)
Dale Fuller ...
Maruschka - a Maid
Albert Edmondson ...
Pavel Pavlich - a Butler (as Al Edmondson)
Cesare Gravina ...
Cesare Ventucci - a Counterfeiter
Malvina Polo ...
Marietta - His Half-witted Daughter (as Malvine Polo)
C.J. Allen ...
Albert 1 - Prince of Monaco
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Storyline

"Count" Karanzim, a Don Juan is with his cousins in Monte Carlo, living from faked money and the money he gets from rich ladies, who are attracted by his charmes and his title or his militaristic and aristocratic behaviour. He tries to have success with Mrs Hughes, the wife of the new US ambassador. Written by Stephan Eichenberg <eichenbe@fak-cbg.tu-muenchen.de>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The first real MILLION DOLLAR PICTURE

Genres:

Drama

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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

11 January 1922 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Esposas Ingênuas  »

Box Office

Budget:

$1,100,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (original) | (Ontario) | (TCM print)

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

A Super Jewel Production. Universal, not owning a proprietary theater chain, devised a 3-tiered branding system in order to market its feature product to independent theater owners: Red Feather (low budget programmers), Bluebird (mainstream releases) and Jewel (prestige pictures produced to draw higher roadshow ticket prices). At $1.104 million, this production was so costly that the studio wanted to differentiate it from even it's Jewel releases, branding this a "Super" Jewel, ensuring it special promotion and premium admission prices. Although the film made a nice profit, Erich von Stroheim (acting as producer as well as director) was rapidly becoming unemployable due to his flagrant excesses which enraged Carl Laemmle. See more »

Goofs

When the original actor playing Mr. Hughes died in the middle of filming, he was replaced by a double, who completed his scenes with his back mostly to the camera. Apparently, however, nobody noticed that the original actor had significantly darker hair than his replacement. Therefore, Mr. Hughes's hair turns white in several scenes, including the sequence where his wife says goodbye to him in the casino, and his confrontation with the count at the villa. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Les dossiers de l'écran: Boulevard du crépuscule (1969) See more »

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User Reviews

Very Good With a What If...
12 September 2010 | by (Louisville, KY) – See all my reviews

Foolish Wives (1922)

*** (out of 4)

von Stroheim's third feature (his second is now lost) had a budget of $250,000, which was quite high for the time but the "man who love to hate" managed to grow crazy during production and the final cost to Universal was just over $1.2 million. The director also managed to turn in a film running six-and-a-half hour only to have the studio cut it down to three-and-a-half. Still not short enough it was cut down to two-and-a-half and this is what it was originally released to. The studio would cut it again to 73-minutes, which is the version that would be shown for years until a 120-minute cut was discovered. Finally, using prints from five different locations, Kino's DVD restores the film to 142-minutes, which to date is the longest surviving cut. Using so many prints has left the quality quite shaky and poor but it is the film that counts.

Set in Monte Carlo, Count Sergius Karamzin (von Stroheim), with the help of his two cousins, lives a luxury life thanks to his ability to seduce married women and then blackmail them for money. His latest target is an American Miss DuPont) who is rather bored with her husband. The story is fairly close to that used in BLIND HUSBANDS and many ways this here seems like an alternate and more epic version of it. I felt BLIND HUSBANDS wondered a bit too long so I was a little nervous watching a longer version of it but this one here turned out to be much better all around. I'm not sure if the story would have worked at over six-hours but I'm going to guess that the longer version probably features more plot built around other characters including a maid as well as the two cousins who are more than likely lovers to the Count. It's impossible to discuss this movie without its budget but you can look at the screen and see where the money went to. von Stroheim actually rebuild the entire Monte Carlo city on the Universal back lot and the attention to details is quite amazing. Not for a second will you feel that you on a lot and it's a rather staggering achievement that the director was able to pull this off but then again it shows what a madman the director was. Apparently even the scenes where they are eating caviar had to use the most expensive caviar because the director wanted everything real. The story here is much better written than the previous film and you can tell that each character has their own bit of story and I think there reasons for doing everything are much better written and explained. The performances by von Stroheim and DuPont are both excellent and they work extremely well together. von Stroheim has no problem slipping into this snake role and he does a great job at playing the seducer as well as the con man. DuPont makes for a great victim as you can actually feel how soft and vulnerable she is. Even though the film is epic in scale, some of the best moments are smaller, quiet ones including a tremendously powerful scene where DuPont reacts to a man who has lost both of his arms in the war. The way this scene plays out is incredibly touching and perhaps the most powerful scene in the film. Another excellent scene happens when the maid, apparently another lover, finally realizes that she's been played all these years. Her breakdown is very effective and heartfelt. The ending has a spectacular fire sequence that contains some nice drama and the ending is pretty funny. The film being chopped down obviously leaves some flow issues but overall this is a much better film than BLIND HUSBANDS and one that really does fit the epic label. We'll never know if the uncut version is a masterpiece or not but what survives is a good indication of what might have been.


5 of 9 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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