The Wedding March

The great success of von Stroheim's The Merry Widow, after the fiascos of Foolish Wives, Greed and The Merry-Go-Round (all three mutilated by the studios), enabled Stroheim to find backing for yet another excursion into the decadent world of the declining Hapsburg dynasty. Von Stroheim filmed The Wedding March with his usual fanatacism for detail and disregard for conventional form. However, Stroheim's last completed film was never released as the director intended, as the following account by Stroheim indicates:

“As I am not easily discouraged I once more endeavoured to make the film in two parts, and to have it exhibited with an hour's intermission, each part being approximately ten to twelve reels long. The showing of each part would have required 1-3/4 hours - twelve reels. To convince myself that I was right in my assertion that filmgoers would prefer to see one long good film, even in two parts, than to sit through a ‘double feature,' one of which was a cheap ‘B' picture, a slapstick comedy or a medley of assorted cartoons, I sent one thousand printed postcards through the agency that handled my fan-mail asking for the opinions of my fans who had previously written to me asking for photographs and complimenting me on my previous work. Over eight hundred answered that they would love to see a picture that would correspond to the original book or play from which it had been taken, and that they did not care how long the picture would run. My producer, Mr. Powers, received my idea with great enthusiasm, because he figured that for my comparatively small salary he would receive two Stroheim films for the price of one - the second being, in his own words, ‘pure velvet!'
“However, Jesse L. Lasky of Paramount, the company which was to distribute the film, would not see it our way. Later I found out that his main reason for disagreeing was that without my knowledge Powers had asked for much more money for the two films than had been arranged for originally for the one production. Anyway, to cut a long story short, I had finished cutting the first part when the rest of the film, not even put together correctly by me, was given to Josef von Sternberg (because they thought he, being an Austrian, should know more about Vienna in particular, and of Austria in general, than any other cutter). Eventually Sternberg was commissioned by Paramount to make a separate and independent film of the second part of The Wedding March. Naturally, as I had intended to run the two parts consecutively in one evening, it would not have been necessary to make a prelude to the second part for it would simply have been a continuation. But it was highly impractical to make it as a picture to stand on its own and to be seen by audiences who may never have witnessed the first part. Thus Paramount found it necessary to repeat in the beginning of The Honeymoon, as this film was called, a prologue of incidents which had been shown in my own production of the first part, thus leaving very little space for the actual story of the second picture.”

The Honeymoon wound up being released only in Europe. Shortly before his death, von Stroheim re-cut both parts to approximate more closely what he had in mind originally, and re-recorded the original musical score by Samecnik from disc to film. Our print tonight is the final (circa 1952) von Stroheim edition.

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