Wednesday, June 23, 2010

1919 - BLIND HUSBANDS, Erich Von Stroheim's impressive first film

In his first film Erich Von Stroheim is the auteur in every sense, he wrote the story, directed and starred as the slimy Teutonic military officer who attempts to seduce the wife of an American doctor on a mountain climbing holiday in Switzerland.

This is an extremely well made and acted silent film.  Von Stroheim already shows his fascination with the less then sterling side of human nature.  His fascination with Prussian military attitudes is a part of this film and will continue on through many of his films. He clearly enjoys himself as the Prussian  officer trying to get the American doctor's wife into bed.  

For a first time director Von Stroheim showed a pretty strong command of the film medium.  He moves the story along with a strong visual sense and keeps the silent acting of the cast under control having them give naturalistic performances. 

The film's climax during a mountain climbing expedition shows Von Stroheim  setting  the dramatic climax against an impressive background. Arnold Fanck clearly learned a thing or two from Von Stroheim. 

This is a sharply observed character study made by a tough uncompromising filmmaker.  As has been noted, Erich Von Stroheim went on to create a series of impressive films only compromised by his exacting methods and his increasingly extravagant spending on each succeeding film

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