The idle son of a rich businessman joins the army when the U.S.A. enters World War One. He is sent to France, where he becomes friends with two working-class soldiers. He also falls in love... See full summary »
George W. Hill
Robert and Beth Gordon are married but share little. He runs into Sally at a cabaret and the Gordons are soon divorced. Just as he gets bored with Sally's superficiality, Beth strives to ... See full summary »
Cecil B. DeMille
Prince Danilo falls in love with dancer Sally O'Hara. His uncle, King Nikita I of Monteblanco forbids the marriage because she is a commoner. Thinking she has been jilted by her prince, Sally marries old, lecherous Baron Sadoja, whose wealth has kept the kingdom afloat. When he dies suddenly, Sally must be wooed all over again by Danilo. Written by
Supposedly, during a day of viewing rushes, Irving Thalberg asked Erich von Stroheim about a particular behavioral aspect of the character Baron Sadoja, played by Tully Marshall. "That is a foot fetish", replied Stroheim. Thalberg is said to have replied, "You, Von, have a footage fetish!" See more »
A title card reads "a prince has a duty to his country higher then [sic] his duty to himself," a grammatical error unusual for such a prestigious studio as MGM. See more »
Superb film by Erich von Stroheim who "personally directed" this lush and romantic blockbuster starring Mae Murray and John Gilbert.
Gilbert plays a European prince who falls for American "danseuse" Murray. Of course his leering cousin the Crown prince (Roy D'Arcy) also has a yen for blonde Murray. The boys clash but Murray prefers Gilbert until he is tricked into jilting her at the altar. She then marries the nation's leading banker (Tully Marshall) who has a foot fetish. He croaks of their wedding night and she becomes "The Merry Widow," a notorious party goer and high liver.
The lovers meet again at Maxim's in Paris where Murray pretends to prefer the oozing D'Arcy. Gilbert gets drunk. On a morning horse ride Murray and D'Arcy come across Gilbert sprawled drunk by the roadside. In a fit, Gilbert strikes the loathsome prince and is challenged to a duel. Murray races to the fog-ridden gunfest but Gilbert has already been shot.
Von Stroheim, notorious for his excesses in GREED is more constrained with THE MERRY WIDOW but still manages some startlingly decadent touches. Murray is fabulous as a the dancer and gets one whole routine to herself a la Martha Grahame as well as the striking and sensual waltz with Gilbert. Gilbert seethes with masculinity and lust for Murray. They are quite a couple. Von Stroheim gives each star maximum close-ups to great effect. Murray has two grand entrances: one in black gown and diamonds for a royal ball; a second all in white fur cape and feathers for her entrance at Maxim's.
The film is highly dramatic, romantic, and sensual but manages touches of humor. A real feast. George Fawcett is the old king; Josephine Crowell is the queen.
In 1925 John Gilbert would have been a shoe in for a best actor Oscar between his performances in THE MERRY WIDOW and THE BIG PARADE. Murray would likely have been a best actress contender. Great film.
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