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Foolish Wives
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Foolish Wives -- Foolish Wives is the account of an American diplomat's wife who falls under the spell of a phony Russian Count.


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Release Date:
11 January 1922 (USA) See more »
Von Stroheim's Million Dollar Photo-play. See more »
A con artist masquerades a Russian nobility and attempts to seduce the wife of an American diplomat. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
1 win See more »
(7 articles)
The Birds, Inglourious Basterds Actor Taylor Dead at 84
 (From Alt Film Guide. 8 January 2015, 6:41 PM, PST)

Jean Grémillon: Realism and Tragedy
 (From MUBI. 30 November 2014, 9:23 AM, PST)

Throwback Thursday: Von Stroheim!
 (From Leonard Maltin's Movie Crazy. 27 August 2014, 9:00 PM, PDT)

User Reviews:
Very Long but interesting Drama in Montecarlo Sin City See more (15 total) »


  (in credits order) (verified as complete)
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

Mae Busch ... Her Cousin - Princess Vera Petchnikoff

Erich von Stroheim ... 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
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Nigel De Brulier ... Monk (uncredited)
Robert Edeson ... Andrew J. Hughes (uncredited)
Agnes Emerson ... Bit Role (uncredited)
Louise Emmons ... Mother Garoupe (uncredited)

Harrison Ford ... Rude Soldier / Armless Soldier (uncredited)
Valerie Germonprez ... Extra (uncredited)
Mrs. Kent ... Dr. Judd's Wife (uncredited)
Mme. Kopetzky ... Actress (uncredited)

Mary Philbin ... Crippled Girl (uncredited)
Edward Reinach ... Secretary of State of Monaco (uncredited)
Louis K. Webb ... Dr. Judd (uncredited)

Directed by
Erich von Stroheim  (as Erich Von Stroheim)
Writing credits
Erich von Stroheim (story and scenario) (as Erich Von Stroheim)

Marian Ainslee (titles) &
Walter Anthony (titles)

Erich von Stroheim  titles (uncredited)

Produced by
Irving Thalberg .... producer (uncredited)
Original Music by
András Hamary (1999)
Sigmund Romberg 
Cinematography by
William H. Daniels (photography) (as William Daniels)
Ben F. Reynolds (photography) (as Ben Reynolds)
Film Editing by
Arthur Lennig (reconstruction) (1989 version)
Arthur Ripley (film editor)
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Jack R. Proctor .... assistant director
Edward Sowders .... assistant director (as Edward A. Sowders)
Louis Germonprez .... assistant director (uncredited)
Art Department
Richard Day .... architect (as Capt. Richard Day)
Elmer Sheeley .... architect
Van Alstein .... scenic artist (uncredited)
Camera and Electrical Department
Harry Joe Brown .... illumination and lighting effects (uncredited)
Editorial Department
Daniel Mandell .... assistant editor (uncredited)
Bob Roberts .... assistant editor (uncredited)
Edward Sowders .... assistant editor (uncredited)
Julius Stern .... supervising editor (uncredited)
Music Department
Steve Sterner .... music composed by (1989 version)
Steve Sterner .... music performed by (1989 version)
Frank Strobel .... conductor (1999)
J. Frank Cork .... conductor: premiere (uncredited)
J. Frank Cork .... orchestrator (uncredited)
Other crew
Carl Laemmle .... presenter
R.H. Cochrane .... publicity chief (uncredited)
Robert Edeson .... double: Rudolph Christians (uncredited)
J. Lambert .... research assistant (uncredited)
Gustav Machatý .... assistant: Mr. Stroheim (uncredited)
William Meyers .... technical director (uncredited)
James R. Sullivan .... technical director (uncredited)
George Williams .... technical director (uncredited)
Crew verified as complete

Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
117 min | Sweden:384 min (original version) | Canada:140 min (Ontario) | USA:107 min (TCM print)
Aspect Ratio:
1.33 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Canada:G (Ontario)

Did You Know?

After six months in the editing room, Erich von Stroheim turned over his cut of the film to Universal Pictures in December of 1921. The film was 32 reels and eight hours long, but von Stroheim insisted it was now "a perfect story." When asked how it would be possible to present 32 reels for an evening's entertainment, he replied, "That's a detail I hadn't time to bother about" (the magazine "Photoplay" suggested that the movie should be re-titled, "Foolish Directors," and released as a serial). Universal took over the movie and edited it down to 14 reels, with a 210-minute running time. Von Stroheim hated the shorter version, complaining that all that was left of his masterpiece was "the bones."See more »
Continuity: When the Count seats Mrs. Hughes at the roulette table, she is wearing a different gown than the one in the rest of the scene.See more »
Movie Connections:


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7 out of 9 people found the following review useful.
Very Long but interesting Drama in Montecarlo Sin City, 17 August 2009
Author: NYLux from United States

Erich Von Stroheim directs and plays Count Wladislaw Sergius Karamzin (Capt. 3rd Hussars Imper. Russian Army). He is very much in love with his dashing persona that is best described as an acquired taste, I think it would have been much more effective to have that much footage on a really talented actor that is also good looking,but that is just a detail. The film is a good film, the characters are interesting and well developed and the scenes are beautifully filmed.

The problem, and it is a problem no matter how much talent we may think Von Stronheim had as a director, is the timing. It is an unnecessarily long movie, period. I can totally understand how this became a real challenge later as he thought longer was better and the more expensive the production, the better too. Neither one of these is necessarily true as we know from other great directors. In all fairness, the length of time has always been endemic to German cultural productions, it is actually one of its most salient characteristics and can be traced all the way back to Goethe's Faust and Wagner's Operas, though I dare say it probably started out from the very beginning in their medieval dramas. The problem usually starts with confusing and melding two different things which creates a third which is neither. For example with Wagner's operas, there is no question the music is great quality. The problem begins when throwing that content into the structure of a performance: 4 or five hours without interruption is not the usual amount of time people can sit without a bathroom or refreshment break. As far as this perspective is concerned if you can't take four hours to say it, then it is not worth bothering with, and I for one could not disagree more.

Here for example at the very beginning of the film we see the characters in a villa endlessly having breakfast. I mean you have all the time in the world to count the patterns of silk on Count Sergius' silk robe, which I also found overly done and a bit ridiculous. Then there is the walk he takes with the wife of the American envoy to Monaco (Miss DuPont) that turns into a total nightmare as they hit a rain storm and when it is raining the hardest Count Sergius takes her into a boat and decides to go across the lake to some hut, where a witch like hag lives with her goats. This entire scene, which is endless, is totally unnecessary, we get to see several long shots of the goats too, as if they were major characters, and of the hag sleeping. In the midst of this a monk stops by and stays with them too, another twenty minutes going nowhere.

The film finally takes off when he tells the American wife to meet him at his villa, where his cousins Maude George as Princess Olga Petchnikoff and Mae Busch as Princess Vera Petchnikoff, who look like Weimar trans-gender women, run a mini casino where they clear Cesare Ventucci, (Cesare Gravina) a Counterfeiter's bills that he makes for them on a regular basis. The permanently depressed and abused maid Marushka (Dale Fuller) however has been having an affair with the Count as well, she has even given him her life savings after he has a crocodile tear scene asking her for money, which she consents to do thinking of his (false) promise of marriage. As one of the first vengeful neurotic lovers in film, she sees them through the keyhole and decides to set the place on fire and throw herself to the sea from a cliff later. Both scenes are shown in exhausting detail. I can totally understand why this movie was heavily edited, but can not begin to comprehend how it could have possibly been longer than this. Supposedly one of the 'great' ideas was that it reproduced Montecarlo on a Hollywood back lot. Unless they were going to do a series on the Riviera, it would have been better to go there.

I now can see why Von Sronheim ran into problems with "Queen Kelly" and Gloria Swanson as that story started to 'grow'. The word 'cut' must be very difficult to pronounce, or to put in mind in German, which is a shame for there is no question there are great qualities here as well as a lot of talent. I have hear that the original length of his 'masterpiece' "Greed" was 9 hours, even cutting it down to two viewings of 4 and 5 hours each is difficult to envision. Who had that much time for a movie then? or now?

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