Foolish Wives

(1922)

Genres: Drama

Movies That Made Us Critics: Foolish Wives

Transcript for Movies That Made Us Critics: Foolish Wives

IGNATIY VISHNEVETSKY:
Now, the next film I’d like to talk about is FOOLISH WIVES.  Set in Monte Carlo, this 1921 film stars it’s writer and director, Erich von Stroheim as a con artist who pretends to be an exiled aristocrat in order to seduce wealthy women.  Stroheim realized FOOLISH WIVES in exacting detail, with every last object in the frame playing some part in his master plan.

CLIP from FOOLISH WIVES

IGNATIY:
In telling this sometimes lurid story, he drew heavily on the modernist literature of his period and on the realist novels of the previous generation.

CLIP from FOOLISH WIVES

IGNATIY:
This is noticeable, not only in the title cards, but in the way he combines characters and details to construct a larger portrait of society.

CLIP from FOOLISH WIVES

IGNATIY: 
Before I saw FOOLISH WIVES, I felt that movies could only imitate other art forms.  They could be novelistic, but they couldn’t absorb the essence of novels.  But here, von Stroheim proves that movies can not only imitate other parts of culture, but that they can equal them.