Goodbye to All That on DVD Jul 14My Little Pony - Friendship Is Magic: Cutie Mark Quests on DVD Jun 30First Peoples on DVD Jul 7Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 on Digital Jun 30 & Blu-ray Combo Jul 14Tough Being Loved By Jerks on DVD Jun 9Turbo Fast: Season One on DVD June 2Inside the Court of Henry VIII on DVD Jun 16

follow us on twitter

dOc on facebook

NE News Editor

'Star Trek 3' Title Revealed by Director Justin Lin: Ta...
Mexico Won't Be Sending Anyone To Miss Universe Pageant...
Goodbye to All That on DVD Jul 14...
Cosby lawyer: Unsealing court docs 'terribly embarrassi...
Disney bans selfie sticks at all theme parks, including...
Jimmy Fallon hospitalized after hand injury...
Photos From New Episodes of "The X-Files"...
Apple's decision to pay artists a win for indies, Taylo...
My Little Pony - Friendship Is Magic: Cutie Mark Quests...
Watch The Stars of 'True Detective' Make Shocking Confe...

Share: email   Print      Technorati.gif   StumbleUpon.gif   MySpace   digg.gif delicious.gif   google.gif   magnolia.gif   facebook.gif
Permalink: Permalink.gif

Buy from Amazon

Buy from Amazon.com

Image Entertainment presents
Foolish Wives (1922)

"It is a dangerous place for strangers—so many hungry sharks lying in wait to get holdof one's money."
- Count Sergius Karamzin (Erich von Stroheim)

Review By: Mark Zimmer   
Published: September 28, 2000

Stars: Erich von Stroheim, Miss DuPont
Other Stars: Maude George, Mae Busch, Rudolph Christians, Dale Fuller
Director: Erich von Stroheim

Manufacturer: WAMO
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (violence)
Run Time: 02h:21m:20s
Release Date: September 19, 2000
UPC: 014381941425
Genre: drama

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A- B+C-A- D

DVD Review

The title Foolish Wives not only characterizes the seduction of Helen Hughes (Miss DuPont), but also is the title of the novel that she is reading throughout the film. We only get brief glimpses into the book (author Erich von Stroheim!) but what we see makes it clear that life imitates art.

We are initially introduced to Count Sergius Karamzin (von Stroheim), and his two cousins, Princess Olga Petchnikoff (Maude George) and Princess Vera Petchnikoff (Mae Busch, who would later make a career out of playing Mrs. Oliver Hardy). They are in post-World War I Monte Carlo, keeping up appearances as best they can as Russian expatriates. However, as the film soon makes clear, the appearances are highly misleading. Karamzin is in fact a fraud, acting in complicity with his two mistresses who are only posing as his cousins. They are engaged in a series of complicated confidence schemes utilizing their phony identities, and think nothing of passing counterfeit money and swindling people out of their fortunes.

A wonderful opportunity presents itself when the new American special envoy to Monaco, Andrew J. Hughes (Rudolph Christians) and his wife Helen arrive. Helen is a reader of trashy romances, and soon finds herself won over by the Count's continental manners and charm. Hughes treats the matter lightly, but soon Helen is turning over vast amounts of cash to the Count, and is in danger of having her reputation quite completely ruined.

This picture is notable in a number of respects. It was the first film to exceed, or even approach, a million dollars in cost. Much of that cost goes into completely invisible items, such as real plate glass for all of the windows in the sets, leading to von Stroheim's reputation as a spendthrift. In his defense, it should be noted that Carl Laemmle Sr. literally gave von Stroheim a blank check to spend whatever he wanted on this film. In fact, Laemmle's gamble paid off, for it established Universal Studios as a serious artistic force in cinema.

Unfortunately for von Stroheim, he envisioned telling stories on a much grander scale than the studios were prepared to release. Foolish Wives was cut down from 32 reels (approximately eight hours in length) to 16, and then 14. A similar experience would befall him just a year later with the massive epic Greed which was amputated in much the same way. In 1928, Universal re-released Foolish Wives with a recorded soundtrack, now cut down to a mere 7 reels. For years, all of the additional footage was believed to be lost. Then another print recently turned up in Italy. This print contained about 7 reels as well, but these included some different material. The two have been edited together here, making this film more than half an hour longer than has ever been available on home video previously. It's not a full reconstruction, but it looks like it is the best we'll probably ever be able to manage.

Von Stroheim literally steals the show here. Those who are only familiar with him in typical roles as a stiff martinet, such as in 1939's Grand Illusion, will be surprised to see him also using a wide range of expressions and animation in his face. Occasionally this lapses into mugging, but we see here that he was a far more versatile actor than he is usually given credit for. He clearly assumes the persona of the "man you love to hate," for his Karamzin is incredibly vile and selfish, yet gleeful while he fleeces the wealthy, steals his maid's life savings and rapes the mentally retarded daughter of one of his accomplices. Other than his suavity and aristocratic airs, there is little admirable in his character. Yet he nicely marries the two sides in a believable fashion. Miss DuPont seems slightly credulous; perhaps the missing footage would have made her falling under Karamzin's spell more gradual and believable.

Modern audiences will probably find the pace rather slow going here. The tempo is undeniably leisurely, even in this shortened form. The film put me in mind of a Henry James novel, with similar languid pacing and emphasis upon the moneyed classes of Europe. Yet von Stroheim is not as madly in love with the idle upper classes as James; he inserts a number of pathetic characters for contrast: a ragamuffin wearing an old German soldier's helmet, and an armless veteran who reappears several times, always with a glare of disapproval of Helen. While the wealthy go about their vacuous business, he seems to be saying, they almost deserve to be taken to the cleaners by Karamzin. Certainly the way that they're impressed by his bogus title shows them to be asking for it. The film does build to an exciting climax and an extended coda follows to wind matters up and to give Karamzin a final opportunity for brutality.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: B+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Because several prints are married together, the image quality is widely variable. The main print looks pretty good, although there is plenty of wear, speckles, flickering and frame damage. The Italian print used to supplement the film is in more questionable shape. Some sequences are extremely high contrast and others are hardly legible, though this typically lasts only for moments. Another shortcoming is that the Italian print is missing a great many frames from the sequences which appear only in it; this is remedied by double- and triple-printing some of the frames to smooth out the motion. This often gives a sensation of slow motion, but without it many of the shots would be nearly subliminal. The color tinting is tastefully done and unobtrusive. Shadow detail ranges from fair to excellent, depending on the print in question.

The film is projected at proper running speed, so that movement is natural, which is always a big plus in my book. On the downside, the picture seems to be severely cropped in a number of places. This is most noticeable in the first shots of the book Foolish Wives; several words on each side of the screen are missing, making the sense only barely recognizable. This is corrected in the concluding shot of the page during the coda. The intertitles appear to be the originals; occasionally portions of them are lost off the screen as well. This presentation really should have been windowboxed in order to preserve the picture properly.

Image Transfer Grade: C-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0n/ano

Audio Transfer Review: The audio is a new musical score for piano by Philip Carli. It is quite appropriate for the film, and doesn't rely heavily on familiar and cliched cues. The audio track is free of hiss and noise, and serves admirably.

Audio Transfer Grade: A-


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 20 cues and remote access
Production Notes
Packaging: Snapper
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: Other than lengthy production notes on the case exterior and interior (which give away the entire plot, including the ending), there aren't any extras. Chaptering is just barely adequate for a film of this length.

Extras Grade: D


Final Comments

A slow-paced film is pleasingly restored to a somewhat larger portion of its once-massive size. While the source material is iffy at best, it's certainly interesting to see a better approximation of von Stroheim's epic vision for the material.


Back to top

Search 10,000+ titles:

or Advanced Search


Get FREE Shipping on all orders at TimeLife.com! - 120x90


Microsoft Store


movie, sci-fy, star trek, justin lin, j.j. abrams, star trek beyond, zoe soldana, chris pine, celebrity, donald trump, republican presidential candidate, nbc, televisa, ora tv, lupita jones, carlos slim, larry king, drama, bill cosby, sex-assault lawsuit, associated press, george m. gowen iii, disneyland, disney california adventure, selfie sticks banned, california screaming, coachella, lollapalooza, television, jimmy fallon, tonight show, hand injury, x files, david duchovny, gillian anderson, fox, january 24, 2016, music, apple music, allen kovac, motley crue, taylor swift, elvis costello, calvin harris, animation, kids, the tonight show, colin ferrell, vince vaughn, true detective, hbo, nbc nightly news, brian williams, anchor, matt lauer, today, msnbc, lester holt, mark feldstein, inside out, pixar, mindy-disgust, amy poehler-joy, phyllis smith-sadness, fear-bill hader, anger-lewis black., nbc evening news, cnn, robert barnett, daytime soap oprah, general hospital, genie francis, anthony geary, foo fighters, cancellations, wembley stadium, murrayfield, dave grohl, sci-fi, adventure action, avengers: age of ultron, spectre, star wars, cbs, big brother, julie chen, wwe wrestler, professional poker player, a poker dealer, a dentist, and a few college students, documentary, mission: impossible - rogue nation, tom cruise, pixels, adam sandler, ted 2, mark wahlberg, terminator genisys, arnold schwarzenegger, doctor strange, chiwetel ejiofor, benedict cumberbatch, tilda swinton, nightly news, the today show, dateline nbc, duck dynasty, jep robertson, jessica, the good, the bad, and the grace of god: what honesty and pain taught us about faith, family, and forgiveness, good morning america, beyonce, marco gorges, comedy, bridge of spies, tom hanks, steven spielberg, matt carman, coen brothers, spy thriller, true events, mission:impossible rogue nation, christopher mcquarrie, kirk krack, rebecca ferguson, lifetime, deadly adoption, kristen wiig, will ferrell, fantastic beasts and where to find them, eddie redmayne. the theory of everything, louis xiii genius award, critics choice television award, seth mcfarlane, a&e networkfa, family guy

On Kindle!
On Facbook!
Promote Your Page Too



Original Magic Dress.com

Susti Heaven

Become a Reviewer | Search | Review Vault | Reviewers
Readers | Webmasters | Privacy | Contact
Microsoft Store