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Merry-Go-Round (1923)

 |  Drama  |  3 September 1923 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.8/10 from 201 users  
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A nobleman, posing as a necktie salesman, falls in love with the daughter of a circus puppeteer, even though he is already married to the daughter of his country's war minister.


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Title: Merry-Go-Round (1923)

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Cesare Gravina ...
Edith Yorke ...
George Hackathorne ...
Schani Huber
Dale Fuller ...
Lillian Sylvester ...
Mrs. Aurora Rossreiter
Spottiswoode Aitken ...
Minister of War / Gisella's Father
Dorothy Wallace ...
Countess Gisella Von Steinbruck
Albert Edmondson ...
Nepomuck Navrital (as Al Edmondson)
Albert Conti ...
Rudi / Baron von Leightsinn
Charles King ...
Nicki (as Charles L. King)
Fenwick Oliver ...
Sidney Bracey ...
Gisella's Groom


Life's merry-go-round goes full tilt for Agnes, a virtuous carny at Vienna's Prater just before the Great War. Her father is abused by their cruel boss, Huber, who may force himself on Agnes. A Count who's engaged to the daughter of the minister of defense chats up Agnes one night while he's slumming; she thinks he's Franz, a necktie salesman, and she falls in love with him. Is he using charm and guile to seduce her? Plus there's Bartholomew, a hunchback who's a barker at the Prater; his love for Agnes is unrequited. Are the fates blind or is there reward for virtue? Written by <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis







Release Date:

3 September 1923 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Amores de Príncipe  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


| (tinted)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Erich von Stroheim's excesses on the film included bringing in a real Viennese streetcar to be used in street scenes (a Los Angeles streetcar simply wouldn't do, said the director). Also, for the brief scene where an actor playing the Austrian Emperor steps out of a hotel and climbs into his horse-drawn carriage, von Stroheim had Universal Studios buy an actual carriage used by Austrian Emperor Franz Josef and ship it to Hollywood. See more »


Referenced in The Opera Ghost: A Phantom Unmasked (2000) See more »


(The Merry Go Round Theme)
Written by Paul Van Dyke (orchestrated by Maurice Baron)
See more »

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User Reviews

Mary Philbin shines in Von Stroheim melodrama

Although Rupert Julian is given directorial credit for this, it was Von Stroheim's film - Julian was pulled in to finish it after Thalberg fired him. It is Von Stroheim all the way - thematically and texturally. Several themes are begun here and developed in later Von Stroheim vehicles. The nobleman roue slated for a marriage of state who falls in love with a commoner - later used as the crux for THE WEDDING MARCH. The abject cruelty of the man who dominates the fragile common girl's life (echoed in both GREED and in THE WEDDING MARCH).

Count Franz fools around although he is engaged to marry a Countess. He dallies with the impressionable carousel organ grinder at a local fair. The fair is run by a brute of a sadist, who dominates her life and that of her father, a puppeteer - refusing to allow them to stop work to attend to their dying mother/wife, destroying the doll given her by the Count, stepping on her foot and ordering her to smile while grinding the organ (GREED again), and finally pushing a plant from a height onto her father to kill him (he fails). Finally an observant and vengeful orangutan puts an end to the sadist's life.

The second part of the film finds the disillusioned girl nursing her father to health, having confronted the Count (with his new wife) as a liar and cheat. The war intervenes, conveniently killing her father and his wife and at war's end, laying open the path to their reunion, albeit at the tearful renunciation of marriage with the loyal hunchback who has loved her from afar.

The film is quite solidly made and both grabs and sustains interest though many of the plot twists (especially the orangutan) are hardly plausible or believable. This should be sought out by all those interested in Von Stroheim's work. Unlike the earlier films (BLIND HUSBANDS, FOOLISH WIVES) which are experimental and uncertain, this emerges as Von Stroheim's first clear vision of where he wants to go and what he wants to do in film.

Mary Philbin's fine performance and the photoplay are deserving of award consideration. Under the main title and at various transition points we see Mephistopheles standing at the center of a carousel and laughing at the antics of the human race - well done.

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