Piazza Maggiore > 21:45


Erich von Stroheim
Introduced by

Robert Byrne (San Francisco Silent Film Festival), Dave Kehr (MoMA) and Cecilia Cenciarelli

Musiche scritte e dirette da Timothy Brock, eseguite dall’Orchestra del Teatro Comunale di Bologna

Event promoted bt Aeroporto G. Marconi Bologna

(In case of rain the screening will take place at Teatro Comunale or will be canceled)


Monday 27/06/2022


Original version with subtitles


Film Notes

The third of Erich von Stroheim’s features for Universal, following the notorious Blind Husbands (1919) and the lost Devil’s Passkey (1920), Foolish Wives was promoted during production as the “first million dollar movie,” with its budget updated weekly on a billboard in Times Square, and the fan magazines stuffed with tales of Stroheim’s mad extravagance, which included building a replica of Monte Carlo’s Place du Casino amid the brown hills of the San Fernando Valley. The final tally reported by Universal’s publicists was $1,053,290 – a great deal of money for the infant Hollywood of the time, but in 2022 terms it converts to a quite modest $16,694,705.34, roughly in the range of a Sundance indie with a couple of television stars in its cast.
In any case, Universal got more than its money’s worth. Stroheim delivered a first cut of some 31 reels, which was soon reduced to 14 for its New York premiere on 11 January 1922. Further editing under pressure from the New York State Censorship Board resulted in the loss of another four reels (including the film’s extended opening sequence), and more cuts and revisions were made when Universal re-edited the negative for a planned reissue in 1928. It was that 7,655ft revision that was acquired by the MoMA in 1936 and has been the basis for all restorations since.
This new version of Foolish Wives, produced by MoMA and the San Francisco Silent Film Festival, contains no previously unseen footage, but does attempt to recreate the sense of the first theatrical release by returning scenes to their original order, replacing the 1928 intertitles with the original texts, adding and digital cleanup throughout, and recreating the spectacular color effects of the climactic fire sequence. The result is a film that feels much more structured and robust than the previous editions, with the full range of Stroheim’s wit, perversity, and flair for melodramatic spectacle. The film now ends as Stroheim intended, with a quote from the fictitious novel – Foolish Wives by a certain Erich von Stroheim – that the director has woven into the plot: “Sooner or later those romantically inclined American wives who believe the superficial polish of Old Worldling and his fascinating ways are the essential qualifications of a husband will be disillusioned. They are sure to come to the realization that the man for the American Woman – is the American Man.”

Dave Kehr

Cast and Credits

Sog., Scen.: Erich von Stroheim. F.: William H. Daniels, Ben F. Reynolds. M.: Arthur Ripley. Int.: Erich von Stroheim (conte Sergius Karamzin), Rudolph Christians (Andrew J. Hughes), Miss DuPont (Helen Hughes), Maude George (principessa Olga Petchnikoff), Mae Bush (principessa Vera Petchnikoff), Dale Fuller (Maruschka), Cesare Gravina (Ventucci), Cesare Gravina (Ventucci), Malvina Polo (Marietta), Dale Fuller (Maruska). Prod.: Carl Laemmle per Universal Film. DCP. Bn