Foolish Wives

We will be showing a partially restored version of von Stroheim's mutilated masterpiece, originally cut by Stroheim to 21 reels, then released for a time in 14 reels, then finally distributed in a version of about 8 reels. Until recently, the 8-reel version was the only one available. Now the American Film Institute has found and inserted about 30 more minutes. As for the film, even in this still incomplete version it lives up to Lotte Eisner's famous estimate: “In Monte Carlo, a city of pleasure and easy riches, three adventurers - two so-called Russian princesses and their ‘cousin' who describes himself as an ex-Czarist officer - live on their wits in a luxurious villa overlooking the Mediterranean. Foolish Wives already reveals Stroheim's full range. The lavishness of luxurious settings foreshadows his later work; Stroheim already knew the dramatic value of correctly and completely observed backgrounds - how to make the facade of the Casino glow and glitter with the thousand lights of a Mediterranean night. Stroheim himself plays the adventurer and brings him to life with a ferocious irony, a kind of subconscious love-hate.”

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