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  Erich von Stroheim and Miss DuPont.
Photograph: Silent Era image collection.
Foolish Wives
Also known as Folies de femmes in France
(1922) American
B&W : 14 reels / 14,120 feet
Directed by Erich von Stroheim

Cast: Erich von Stroheim [Count Sergius Karamzin], Maude George [Princess Olga Petchnikoff], Mae Busch [Princess Vera Petchnikoff], Rudolph Christians [Andrew J. Hughes, U.S. Special-Envoy to Monaco], Miss Du Pont [Helen Hughes, his wife], Dale Fuller [Maruschka, a maid], Al Edmundsen [Pavel Pavlich, a butler], Caesare Gravina (Cesare Gravina) [Caesare Ventucci], Malvine Polo (Malvina Polo) [Marietta Ventucci], C.J. Allen [Albert I, Prince of Monaco]; Robert Edeson [Andrew J. Hughes], Louis K. Webb [Doctor Judd], Mrs. Kent [Mrs. Judd], Edward Reinach [Secretary of State of Monaco], Valerie Germonprez [extra]

The Universal Film Manufacturing Company, Incorporated, production; distributed by The Universal Film Manufacturing Company, Incorporated [Universal Super Jewel]. / Scenario by Erich von Stroheim, from a screen story by Erich von Stroheim. Research assistant, J. Lambert. Settings and design (production design) by Captain Day (Captain Richard Day) + [Erich von Stroheim]. Assistant architect, Elmer Sheely (Elmer E. Sheeley). Costumes and uniforms by Western Costume Company + [Captain Richard Day and Erich von Stroheim]. Scenic artist, Van Alstyn. Sculpture by Don Jarvis. Master of properties, C.J. Rogers. Special assistant to Mr. Stroheim, Gustav Machaty. Technical department, William Meyers, James Sullivan and George Williams. Illumination and special light effects, chief engineer, Harry Brown. Assistant directors, Edward A. Sowders (Eddy Sowders) and Jack R. Proctor + [Louis Germonprez]. Cinematography by Ben Reynolds and William Daniels. Titles (intertitles) by Marian Ainslee + [Ted Kent, Walter Anthony and Erich von Stroheim]. Edited by Arthur D. Ripley. Special music score composed by Sigmund Romberg. Presented by Carl Laemmle. / © 11 February 1922 by The Universal Film Manufacturing Company, Incorporated [LP17550]. Premiered 11 January 1922 at the Central Theatre in New York, New York. General release, 8 May 1922. / Standard 35mm spherical 1.33:1 format. / Edeson replaced Christians, who died during production. The production was shot from 12 July 1920 through 18 June 1921, and cost between $735,000 (according to Stroheim) and $1,103,736.38 (according to Universal publicity). Stroheim said, “R.H. Cochrane, vice-president in charge of publicity at Universal, thought . . . $735,000 was so close to a million that he decided to call it, for publicity purposes, ‘the first million-dollar picture.’ Universal had put up an electric sign on Broadway, changed weekly, as the production costs ‘mounted.’ . . . They spelled my name in lights as $troheim. A lot of good that did me!” [quoted in Weinberg-Stroheim p. 35]. The premiere program reported that the film’s sets along cost $421,000. Universal editor-in-chief Julius Stern reported that 360,000 feet of film negative had been shot; the premiere program listed the amount as 320,000 feet; and the Motion Picture News reported on 17 December 1921 that the amount was 295,000 feet. Stroheim’s original rough cut was 34 reels long (approximately 32,000 feet), which he then edited to [?] 21-22? reels (approximately 21,000 feet) for release. Editor Arthur Ripley further cut the film to 14,120 feet for the New York premiere, which ran approximately three-and-one-half hours (with a five-minute intermission) as reported by The New York Times in January 1922. The premiere print included red hand-coloring of the flames in the villa. The music score was edited, adapted and conducted by J. Frank Cork for the film’s premiere. Irving Thalberg then had Julius Stern supervise Ripley’s further reduction of the film down to ten reels for general release. The film was reconstructed to 107 minutes by Arthur Lennig (under the aegis of David Shepard and utilizing Stroheim’s original scenario) for the American Film Institute in 1972.


Synopsis: Synopsis available in Weinberg-Stroheim pp. 36, 40-41.

Survival status: Prints exist in the Museum of Modern Art film archive [35mm reedited and reintertitled eight-reel version by Iris Barry]; in the Library of Congress film archive (American Film Institute collection) [35mm reconstruction version negative, 35mm reconstruction version positives]; in the film holdings of Cohen Media Group (Raymond Rohauer collection) [35mm positive]; and in the film holdings of Film Preservation Associates [16mm reduction positive].

Current rights holder: Public domain.

Keywords: Crime: Blackmail, Counterfeiting, Fraud, Murder - Death: Murder, Suicide - Lechery - Seduction - Target practice - Weapons: Guns: Silencers - Weather: Storms

Listing updated: 24 September 2013.

References: Film credits, film viewing : Bardèche-History p. 288; Barry-Griffith p. 30; Bohn-Light pp. xxiii, 86; Brownlow-Parade pp. 72, 183, 255, 417, 424; Card-Seductive pp. 7, 45-46; Edmonds-BigU pp. 105, 106, 107, 119; Everson-American pp. 155, 171, 175-176, 179, 286, 290, 322, 363; Fell-History pp. 114, 116; Higashi-Virgins pp. 140, 144-146; Hirschhorn-Universal pp. 14, 38, 41, 42; Leish-Cinema pp. 51, 52; Limbacher-Feature p. 84; Maltin-Guide p. 426; Shipman-Cinema p. 76; Sinyard-Silent p. 124; Sklar-Movie p. 96; Skretvedt-LaurelHardy p. 433; Vermilye-Twenties p. 74; Webb-Hollywood pp. 88, 93; Weinberg-Stroheim pp. xi, xii, xiii, xv, 6, 32-71, 75, 137 : ClasIm-240 pp. 12, 21; Photoplay-192306 p. 8 : Website-AFI; Website-IMDb.

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