“Count” Karamzin, a Don Juan, lives off the money he scams from rich ladies who are attracted by his charms and his title. Having set up shop in Monte Carlo, he and his partners in crime pick their next target: the wife of an American envoy.
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this film has a SATANIC ENERGY coursing through it that intoxicates the viewer and it just feels like one of the most decadent pleasures in the world to be watching these people sin in a decaying mansion by the riviera before your eyes…one of the first silents i saw and it is a Favorite Forever
The early scene in Foolish Wives is a real marvel. It is so packed with incident, has so many shifting foci of attention (emblematic of the narrative’s multiplicity: Karamzin, Monte Carlo, marriage, nature vs Monte Carlo, appearance and reality: is there a center?) – Karamzin, the maid, the setting, the sea, the Petchnikoffs, the counterfeiter, the breakfast – is so hard to take in at once that (contd in comment)
Has anyone ever been as drunk on cinema as Stroheim here? Daring in so many ways, this was almost certainly a profound masterpiece in its original form, but the "skeleton" that remains begs a bit of research and a dose of imagination in order to conjure that vision. Plenty of great filmmaking is intact, but the film as it exists now defies full appreciation under casual viewing.
It's the acting in Stroheim's films which really impresses me. He captures these subtle and intimate gestures and exchanges between his characters. It totally dispels the erroneous idea that somehow silent film acting was over the top.
Very entertaining, more than a bit silly. As always with von Stroheim, there's good lively grotesquerie and some real darkness poking through the decadent veneer. A fine performance from Ms. Dale Fuller presages von Stroheim's triumph with Zasu Pitts a few years later.