Colour: Black and White / Silent
Director: Eric von Stroheim
Producer: Pat Powers
This film is set in Vienna before World War 1 in the decline of the Hapsburg Empire. Eric von Stroeim is an impoverished aristocrat who falls in love Fray Wray the daughter of an innkeeper. However his family have told him to marry for money and make him marry the rich Zasu Pitts who has a limp. Loosing her love, Fay Wray agrees to marry the violent Matthew Betz. Eric von Srtoheim planned this as a major epic but the second half was never made and the studio cut what was made to leave the version that survives. Whilst on one level the plot is a simple love story the film is more a critic of pre-war Vienna society where the aristocracy use and abuse those they see as beneath them for their own please and gain. There are several great scenes (von Stroheim and Wray meeting at the parade, an early technicolor sequence of the parade, in the carriage in the garden under the apple blossom and the organist at the wedding) and a great performance by Fay Wray in her first major film make this arguably one of the great films of the silent era. It is not without faults, notably the pace of the film with a number of scenes that would have been more effective at a fraction of their length. If you want to see the work of a creative director of the silent period then watch and enjoy this but is not a film designed for commercial success.
Eric von Stroheim