The Full Wiki

Erich von Stroheim: Wikis

  
  
  

Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.

Did you know ...


More interesting facts on Erich von Stroheim

Include this on your site/blog:

Encyclopedia

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Erich von Stroheim
Born Erich Oswald Stroheim
September 22, 1885(1885-09-22)
Vienna, Austria-Hungary
Died May 12, 1957 (aged 71)
Maurepas, France
Spouse(s) Margaret Knox (1913-1915)
Mae Jones (1916-1919)
Valerie Germonprez (1920-1957)
Denise Vernac (never officially married)

Erich von Stroheim (September 22, 1885 – May 12, 1957) was an Austrian-born star of the silent film age, lauded for his directorial work in which he was a proto-auteur. As an actor, he is noted for his arrogant Teutonic character parts which led him to be described as "not a character actor, but what a character!". Playing villainous German roles during the Great War, he became known as "The Man You Love to Hate".

Contents

Background

Stroheim's most recent biographers, such as Richard Koszarski, say that he was born in Vienna, Austria in 1885 as Erich Oswald Stroheim, the son of Benno Stroheim, a middle-class hat-maker, and Johanna Bondy, both of whom were practicing Jews.[1]

Stroheim himself claimed to be Count Erich Oswald Hans Carl Maria von Stroheim und Nordenwall, the son of Austrian nobility like the characters he played in his films, but both Billy Wilder and Stroheim's agent Paul Kohner claimed that he spoke with a decidedly lower-class Austrian accent. However Jean Renoir writes in his memoirs: “Stroheim spoke hardly any German. He had to study his lines like a schoolboy learning a foreign language.”[2] Later, while living in Europe, Stroheim claimed in published remarks to have "forgotten" his native tongue.

Stroheim was a great fantasist and his authorized biography contains many factual errors.

Film career

By 1914 he was working in Hollywood. He began working in movies in bit-parts and as a consultant on German culture and fashion. His first film, in 1915, was The Country Boy in which he was uncredited. His first credited role came in Old Heidelberg.

He began working with D. W. Griffith, taking uncredited roles in Intolerance. Later, he played the sneering German in such films as Sylvia of the Secret Service and The Hun Within. In The Heart of Humanity, he tore the buttons from a nurse's uniform with his teeth, and when disturbed by a crying baby, threw it out a window.

Following the end of the First World War, Stroheim turned to writing and then directed his own script for Blind Husbands in 1919. He also starred in the film. As a director, Stroheim was known to be dictatorial and demanding, often antagonizing his actors. He is considered one of the greatest directors of the silent era, representing on film his by turns cynical and romantic views of human nature. {In the 1932 film The Lost Squadron Stroheim played a parody of himself as a fanatic German film director making an World War I movie who orders extras playing dead soldiers to "Stay dead"!}

His next directorial efforts were the lost film The Devil's Passkey (1919) and Foolish Wives (1922), in which he also starred. Studio publicity for "Foolish Wives" claimed that it was the first film to cost one million dollars.

In 1923, Stroheim began work on Merry-Go-Round. He cast the American actor Norman Kerry in a part written for himself 'Count Franz Maximilian Von Hohenegg' and newcomer Mary Philbin in the lead actress role. However studio executive Irving Thalberg fired Von Stroheim during filming and replaced him with director Rupert Julian.

Erich von Stroheim as Sergius Karamzin in Foolish Wives

Probably Stroheim's best remembered work as a director is Greed, a detailed filming of the novel McTeague by Frank Norris. Stroheim filmed and originally edited a nine-hour version of the story, shot mostly at the locations described in the book in San Francisco and Death Valley. After his attempts to cut it to less than three hours were rejected by the studio, MGM cut the film to a little over two hours, and, in what is considered one of the greatest losses in cinema history, destroyed the cut footage. The shortened release version was a box-office failure, and was angrily disowned by Stroheim. The film was partially reconstructed in 1999 by Producer Rick Schmidlin, using the existing footage mixed with surviving still photographs, but Greed has passed into cinema lore as a lost masterpiece.

Stroheim followed with a commercial project The Merry Widow (his most commercially successful film) and the more personal The Wedding March and the now-lost The Honeymoon.

Stroheim's unwillingness or inability to modify his artistic principles for the commercial cinema, his extreme attention to detail and the resulting costs of his films led to fights with the studios, and as time went on he received fewer directing opportunities.

In 1929, Stroheim was dismissed as the director of the film Queen Kelly after disagreements with star Gloria Swanson and producer and financier Joseph P. Kennedy over the mounting costs of the film and the introduction by Stroheim of indecent subject matter into the film's scenario.

After Queen Kelly and Walking Down Broadway, a project from which Stroheim was also dismissed, Stroheim returned to working principally as an actor, in both American and French films.

Working in France on the eve of the Second World War, Stroheim was prepared to direct the film La dame blanche from his own story and screenplay. Jean Renoir wrote the dialogue, Jacques Becker was to be assistant director and Stoheim himself, Louis Jouvet and Jean-Louis Barrault were to be the featured actors. Max Cossvan was to produce the film for Demo-Film. The production was prevented by the outbreak of the war on September 1, 1939, and Stroheim returned to the United States.[3]

He is perhaps best known as an actor for his role as von Rauffenstein in Jean Renoir's La Grande Illusion (1937) and as Max von Mayerling in Billy Wilder's Sunset Boulevard (1950).

For the latter film, which co-starred Gloria Swanson, Stroheim was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. Excerpts from Queen Kelly were used in the film. The Mayerling character states that he used to be one of the three great directors of the silent era, along with D.W. Griffith and Cecil B. DeMille; many film critics agree that Stroheim was indeed one of the great early directors. Stroheim's character in Sunset Boulevard thus had an autobiographical basis that reflected the humiliations suffered through his career.

Stroheim was married three times. Though he was never divorced from his third wife Valerie Germonprez, he lived with actress Denise Vernac, who had worked for him as his secretary since 1938, from 1939 until his death. Vernac also starred with him in several films. Two of Stroheim's sons eventually joined the film business: Erich Jr. (1916-1968) as an assistant director [4] and Josef (1922-2002) as a sound editor.[5]

Stroheim spent the last part of his life in France where his silent film work was much admired by artists in the French film industry. In France he acted in films, wrote several novels that were published in French, and worked on various unrealized film projects. He was awarded the French Légion d'honneur shortly before his death in 1957 in Maurepas, France at the age of 71.

Filmography (as director)

Quotes

"Lubitsch shows you first the king on the throne, then as he is in the bedroom. I show you the king in the bedroom so you'll know just what he is when you see him on his throne."[6]

"If you live in France, for instance, and you have written one good book, or painted one good picture, or directed one outstanding film fifty years ago and nothing else since, you are still recognized and honored accordingly. People take their hats off to you and call you "maitre". They do not forget. In Hollywood --in Hollywood, you're as good as your last picture. If you didn't have one in production within the last three months, you're forgotten, no matter what you have achieved ere this."[7]

Notes

  1. ^ Koszarski, Richard. Von: The Life and Films of Erich von Sroheim. New York: Limelight Editions, 2001. pg. 4
  2. ^ Renoir, Jean. Ma Vie et mes films (Flammarion, 1974) p.150. Renoir writes of the filming of La Grande Illusion : "An amusing detail was that Stroheim barely spoke German. He had to study his lines like a schoolboy learns a text in a foreign language. In the eyes of the whole world, he remains nevertheless the perfect example of the German soldier. His genius triumphs over the literal copy of reality."
  3. ^ Faulkner, Christopher, Jean Renoir, a guide to references and resources, page 22. Boston, Mass.: G.K. Hall & Company, 1979.
  4. ^ Erich von Stroheim Jr. at the Internet Movie Database
  5. ^ Josef von Stroheim at the Internet Movie Database
  6. ^ Stroheim quoted in Georges Sadoul, Dictionary of Films, ed. and trans. Peter Morris (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1972) 217.
  7. ^ Eulogy for D.W. Griffith, reprinted in The Man You Loved To Hate, by Richard Koszarski, page 282.

External links








Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address
Message