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Foolish Wives & Man You Loved [DVD] [1922] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]

Rudolph Christians , Miss DuPont , Erich von Stroheim , Patrick Montgomery    DVD

Price: £10.20
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Foolish Wives & Man You Loved [DVD] [1922] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] + Merry Widow [DVD] [1925] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.3 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another great Kino Video double feature! 22 May 2004
By Barbara (Burkowsky) Underwood - Published on
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This new release of "Foolish Wives" is said to be longer than previous releases, thanks to the American Film Institute's restoration efforts to salvage some scenes that were taken out before - which probably explains the varying degrees of picture quality at times. Aside from this, however, the movie with its plot, attention to detail and characters are altogether superb and very enjoyable. The first stages of the film might seem to move slowly as characters are introduced, but scenes of bustling Monte Carlo (which was in fact just in Hollywood!) make every minute worth while and enjoyable to watch. There is always some intrigue and suspense as the plot unravels to its climax, and Erich von Stroheim doesn't disappoint in his 'bad guy' role as he manipulates women to give him money while having a roving eye on several others as well. This is one that he also wrote and directed, and it's a bit of a pity that his idealistic vision for this film wasn't fully realized because it had to be cut down to size. Nevertheless, the main points and ideas come across and it's definitely a quality movie worth watching.
The second part on this DVDis a documentary on Erich von Stroheim showing excerpts from his best known films, comments by various people about his work and private life, and an overview of his whole life. It brings out von Stroheim's pedantic perfectionism and attention to detail which cost him several directing jobs, and which led him him to move to France in later years and resume a more successful acting career later. I'm quite sure this is the same documentary as the Hollywood series of the 1970s on VHS, but nevertheless interesting to watch and good to have on this new DVD release. There are also some good special features including audio commentary, gallery of stills, memos and other bits and pieces, making this DVD an excellent buy for the von Stroheim fan and general movie buff alike.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Legendary But Seldom Seen Classic of the Silent Era 22 Mar 2005
By Gary F. Taylor - Published on
Today Erich Von Stroheim is best recalled by the general public for his appearances in such films as the 1950 SUNSET BLVD--but fans of silent film know him as one of early cinema's great directors, creator of such films as BLIND HUSBANDS, FOOLISH WIVES, and the legendary masterwork GREED. This Kino Video feature not only offers the seldom seen 1922 FOOLISH WIVES, but a portrait of the eccentric and highly controversial man as well.

Although some question remains, FOOLISH WIVES is generally believed to be the first film made that cost one million dollars. In the modern era, when film budgets often run into many millions of dollars, this may seem slight--but in 1922 Universal Studios was staggered not only by the costs, but by Von Stroheim's seemingly endless shooting schedule; at a time when most movies were made in six weeks or less, FOOLISH WIVES took a year or more to complete and threatened to bankrupt the studio.

The circumstances brought Von Stroheim into direct conflict with production manager Irving Thalberg, who threatened to replace him with another director. By most accounts, Von Stroheim laughed in Thalberg's face: not only was he director, he was the star as well, and if he were fired the film would never be completed. Thalberg and Universal had little choice but grin and bear it... but it was something Thalberg would recall several years later, much to Von Stroheim's chagrin.

Set in post-World War I Monaco, FOOLISH WIVES presents the story of the ultra-amoral Count Wladislaw Sergius (Von Stroheim) and his two supposed cousins Olga (Maude George) and Vera (Mae Busch) who present themselves as wealthy Russian nobility--but who are in fact a trio of vicious con-artists who generate cash flow by passing counterfeit bills through Monaco's legendary casinos. Eager to deflect suspicion, they scrape acquaintance with an American diplomat and his wife (Rudolph Christians and Helen Hughes)--and in no time at all the naive wife is so much putty in the Count's diabolical hands.

Von Stroheim recreated a fairly large chunk of Monaco on the Universal back lot, and the sets, costumes, and crowds of extras still put most modern productions to shame. But the film's real fascination are the deadly trio of Maude George, Mae Busch, and most particularly Von Stroheim himself. Within the first few minutes of the film he contemplates advances upon an attractive but mentally deficient young woman--and as the plot unfolds we discover that he has seduced the maid with a promise of marriage he does not intend to keep. This, of course, does not prevent him from taking her life savings for a little gambling money when the need arises!

The overall cast is quite good, with Miss DuPont a stand out as the diplomat's wife, and the cast plays without recourse to the broad mannerisms often seen in many silent films. But what drives the film is our curiosity at how far Von Stroheim will take both the film and his own performance. The answer? Plenty far indeed. It's all fascinating stuff, and truly this is the film that gave Von Stroheim the title of "The Man You Love To Hate."

FOOLISH WIVES was soundly condemned by the moral authorities of the day, and Universal lost a bundle on the project. In an effort to recoup some of the loss, the studio cut and then recut the film to a more reasonable length for distribution; as a result, great chunks of the film were lost. While a "complete" version is an impossibility, this Kino Video release offers a best-possible version, restoring every scrap of film available. The accompanying profile of Von Stroheim, titled THE MAN YOU LOVE TO HATE, is also quite interesting.

FOOLISH WIVES inevitably pales in comparison to Stroheim's later GREED, but it is a remarkably fine, remarkably watchable silent--and the two films would have a circular effect. For when Von Stroheim went to Metro to film GREED, he eventually found himself face to face once more with Irving Thalberg... and this time Thalberg, who well recalled the financial disaster of FOOLISH WIVES, would have the upper hand. Strongly recommended, not only for the film itself, but for the backstory involved.

GFT, Amazon Reviewer
4.0 out of 5 stars Great documentary and extras, so-so film 20 Sep 2006
By Anyechka - Published on
The main feature on this disc is the 1922 film 'Foolish Wives,' whose plot has already been outlined by other reviewers. Looking at it in its present restored form, it seems as though it's more important historically than as entertainment. At almost two hours long, this is one of the longest silent films you'll probably ever hope to see. I love long movies and books, but length doesn't always make it automatically a masterpiece. 'Ben-Hur' and 'The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse,' for example, are also quite long silents, yet they go by in the blink of an eye, almost, because they're so compelling and well-developed. 'Foolish Wives' is kind of boring, and certainly not an ideal first silent for anyone. It would probably just confirm many of the stereotypes that the average non-fan has about the lost artform. It didn't really get terribly interesting for me until it was more than halfway over.

Judging from the plentiful extras and the great audio commentary, I get the feeling that this actually started out as a great movie, with wonderful characters and a deep complex involving plot. We're even told how a lot of the reviewers who saw it in its original massive length, before all of the cutting began, loved it and felt it were one of the best movies they'd ever seen. However, due to all of the cutting that took place (partly because of the over the top censorship of the time and partly because, sadly, most people then, as now, just didn't want to see a movie that was like 7 hours long), we're left with a movie that's a mere shell of its former self. The plot now seems little more than paper-thin, and becomes rather boring when stretched out to nearly two hours. There's also not much character development (with the obvious exception of von Stroheim's leading role as the creepy villainous sex-crazed count), so we don't really care too much about these characters or what happens to them. Due to all of the cutting, a lot of these characters disappear for long stretches at a time, which makes it harder to remember just who they're supposed to be and what importance they serve to the plot by the time they reappear, such as Ventucci and his retarded daughter and the soldier (played by the original Harrison Ford) whose seemingly rude behavior towards Mrs. Hughes (does she even have a first name in the original script?) we later find out the crystal-clear reason for. Minus all of these well-developed subplots and all of these apparently originally wonderfully-developed characters, both major and minor, we're left with something that's just not all that interesting or compelling. It just comes across as uneven in its current much-shortened form. There's also the problem in the character of Andrew Hughes, since halfway through filming Rudolph Christians, the actor playing him, died, and thus he was unable to appear in crucial later scenes, or else had to appear in those later scenes via pirated footage from earlier films he'd been in and by shooting an entirely different actor from the back. However, I won't complain too much about the inconsistent print quality, knowing that it was assembled from many different sources in order to get the most complete and longest cut that was still possible, and that some of these reels of film were more badly damaged than others. We're lucky to have as much of it as we still do, even though it's far far shorter than it was originally, so it's kind of unfair and unrealistic to complain about how the pictorial quality isn't crystal clear throughout.

In addition to numerous extras (such as a photo gallery, audio interviews, press materials, censored scenes, and a memo from von Stroheim), there's a 1979 documentary on von Stroheim. This is a really informative and fascinating look at one of the most creative and fascinating people of the last century. However, it does seem a bit dated because of the age; none of the basic facts have changed, but perhaps a more current documentary might provide some more recent insights into his life and work, as well as new discoveries that have been made in the years since. Most of the clips from his silents are also in bad condition, and many of them seem to be shown at the wrong speed, which doesn't really improve the image of silent film in the eyes of most viewers.

Overall, it's not one I'd recommend getting to someone just getting into silent film or the works of von Stroheim, but for someone much further along in that area, I would recommend it on the basis of the historical importance of 'Foolish Wives,' the incredible extras, the great documentary, and the wonderful audio commentary (which helps to make clear and explains some things that you might not know or pick up on by just watching the film by itself).
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars amazon: bring back product page ratings! 11 Feb 2011
By Charles D. Fulton - Published on
For some inexplicable reason, Amazon has removed the rate movie feature from the main product page. One must now write a review in order to rate a movie and generate recommendations. This is not a review, but merely a means to allow me to rate this movie and improve my recommendations. If you are as annoyed by this new "feature" as I am, please register your protest w/ Amazon help.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars VON STROHEIM IS GREAT!!!!! 2 April 2009
By larryj1 - Published on
The restoration of Foolish Wives is very enjoyable. It has a great intelligent commentary to compliment it. I only wish they had explained more about the titles. They said the original titles had been restored. The opening credits started out original and then changed(perhaps from a later cut of the film). The end title had a 2003 copyright on it and was anything but original. The feature documentary was great and should have been as long as one of Von Stroheim's original productions.
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