Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Born Today September 22: Erich von Stroheim


Born Erich Oswald Stroheim to observant Jews in Vienna Austria, he immigrated on his own to the US, entering through the famous Ellis Island where he claimed that his name was Count Erich Oswald Hans Carl Maria von Stroheim und Nordenwall, claiming to be the son of Austrian notability (which is amusing because non-Jewish Austrians (or Austro-Hungarians), like my own grandfather for example, spell "Carl" with a K [Karl], Jewish Germanics spell it with a C--that should have be a bit of a give away, that's quite apart from the whole "Stroheim"....it's a great name though!!)  He entered the country essentially as that character type and went on to basically play that character in is early silent acting roles.  He seems to have been somewhat of a trickster sort, rather than a deliberate fraud.  In later speaking roles he spoke German with an American sounding accent; and fashion photographer Helmet Newton, himself a German speaker from birth, claimed that von Stroheim spoke "a very special kind of Prussian officer lingo, it's very abrupt, it's very, very funny."  He, personally claimed to have forgotten is native tongue on more than one occasion, who knows??  Sounds like quite the character me!  Most people who knew him ordinary situations claimed that he atcually had a "lower-class Austrian accent."  Below in an embed of radio comments he made upon the death of D. W. Griffith--listen for yourself and you decide. [nevemind tje prognaistic natire pf tje peiece] Though most remember him as a director and  for his auteur directorial style rather than as an actor--of which he did much more of than actual directing.  His first acting role dates from 1915, but it was his getting noticed by directorial giant D. W. Griffith that eventually lead to much larger roles; roles such as those mentioned above.  Of course, to be a director in the auteur style, he would by necessity have to also be a screenwriter (and producer and editor), but he went on to have credits in a number of different areas of film making including:  Costume designer, Art Department, Soundtrack performance, Wardrobe Assistant, Production designer.  He also has a number a of (un)credits as an assistant director, the most infamous of which would have to be Birth Of A Nation (1916) One of his "epics" Greed is infamous because his insistence that it be shot in Death Valley.  At least one person was hospitalized in fairly serious condition--if memory serves, several animals died.  Cameras had to be wrapped in ice towels just for shooting short bits at a time.  In his personal life--he was married three times, made one film in France with his "secretary" and had two sons:  that went on to work in the film industry.  By the time of his death in Paris, on 2 May 1957 at the age of 71, had been living in France for some time.  Have a funny little birthday notice for him over on my Scare Me site.

[At this point I would like to apologize for missing yesterday's post.  My job and a Markets trader, and this being historically the worst week for markets of the year and some family business got in the way.  It was not intended to by a particularly long post as it was on the great writer H. G. Wells, please, though do see some links for him below.]

Silent Era Work:

Birth Of A Nation (1916) (on both Amazon Prime and Internet Archive--find soft things to throw at your telly!  Don't break the TV....)

Intolerance (1916) (this can be streamed from Internet Archive)

Panthea (1917) (lost film)

Blind Husbands (1919) (this Stroheim directed silent is currently on Amazon Prime)

C-V News: Filming Greed (1923) (not to toot my own horn, but I was the person who got IMDb to add this--it took two tries, despite that it is the print is archived as survived and the bloody thing is on DVD...ah IMDb!  Stroheim did almost get a lot people killed filming this in Death Valley!)

Greed (1924) (not to be confused with the 1917 film of the same title--this one almost got him into serious legal hot water--over, literally, hot temperatures!)

A Trip Through The Paramount Studio (1927)  (a TON of silent films stars on in this one!)

The Wedding March (1928) (partial silent, with soundtrack and sound effects by Western Electric)

The Honeymoon (1928) (early talkie)

Tempest (1928) (this was either a partial silent or there were two versions, with the other being in mono. This is also currently on Amazon Prime)

Queen Kelly (1929) (partial silent/mono or two version distrubuted.  Currently on Amazon Prime)

The Great Gabbo (1929) (Western Electric early talkie--and a personal favorite.  This can be streamed or cast from Internet Archive.  He sings in this one...)

H.G . Wells

H. G. Wells


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