Sisif, a railwayman, and his son Elie fall in love with the beautiful Norma (who Sisif rescued from a train crash when a baby and raised as his daughter), with tragic results. Originally ... See full summary »
Gabriel de Gravone,
"Count" Karanzim, a Don Juan is with his cousins in Monte Carlo, living from faked money and the money he gets from rich ladies, who are attracted by his charmes and his title or his militaristic and aristocratic behaviour. He tries to have success with Mrs Hughes, the wife of the new US ambassador.Written by
Stephan Eichenberg <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Once in a great while something happens in the world of art and literature of such momentous importance that it stands out prominently like a Gigantic Beacon of Light of History, marking a milestone in the course of human progress. Such an epoch-making event is the presentation by Carl Laemmle of a vivid and realistic romance of Monte Carlo, screened amid scenic backgrounds of unequaled and costly splendor, the turning point of screen art. See more »
The most expensive part of the movie were the lavish sets, built at Universal Studios. The sets featured a full exterior replica of Monte Carlo, complete with an artificial lake. The total cost of the sets was $421,000. Erich von Stroheim said in an interview that he ought to know what Monte Carlo looked like, for he had been "busted there twice." See more »
When the Count seats Mrs. Hughes at the roulette table, she is wearing a different gown than the one in the rest of the scene. See more »
The most complete version of this film available at present is the 120-minute version compiled by Arthur Lennig and first screened in 1972. This version is put together from two different original release versions: one American and one Italian. While the Italian version had more scenes than the American one, it was much choppier; it's editor simply shortened almost every scene he could, rather than cutting entire episodes to allow the others to play through at normal pace. The two versions also used different takes of scenes (comon practice at the time). See more »
von Stroheim's third feature (his second is now lost) had a budget of $250,000, which was quite high for the time but the "man who love to hate" managed to grow crazy during production and the final cost to Universal was just over $1.2 million. The director also managed to turn in a film running six-and-a-half hour only to have the studio cut it down to three-and-a-half. Still not short enough it was cut down to two-and-a-half and this is what it was originally released to. The studio would cut it again to 73-minutes, which is the version that would be shown for years until a 120-minute cut was discovered. Finally, using prints from five different locations, Kino's DVD restores the film to 142-minutes, which to date is the longest surviving cut. Using so many prints has left the quality quite shaky and poor but it is the film that counts.
Set in Monte Carlo, Count Sergius Karamzin (von Stroheim), with the help of his two cousins, lives a luxury life thanks to his ability to seduce married women and then blackmail them for money. His latest target is an American Miss DuPont) who is rather bored with her husband. The story is fairly close to that used in BLIND HUSBANDS and many ways this here seems like an alternate and more epic version of it. I felt BLIND HUSBANDS wondered a bit too long so I was a little nervous watching a longer version of it but this one here turned out to be much better all around. I'm not sure if the story would have worked at over six-hours but I'm going to guess that the longer version probably features more plot built around other characters including a maid as well as the two cousins who are more than likely lovers to the Count. It's impossible to discuss this movie without its budget but you can look at the screen and see where the money went to. von Stroheim actually rebuild the entire Monte Carlo city on the Universal back lot and the attention to details is quite amazing. Not for a second will you feel that you on a lot and it's a rather staggering achievement that the director was able to pull this off but then again it shows what a madman the director was. Apparently even the scenes where they are eating caviar had to use the most expensive caviar because the director wanted everything real. The story here is much better written than the previous film and you can tell that each character has their own bit of story and I think there reasons for doing everything are much better written and explained. The performances by von Stroheim and DuPont are both excellent and they work extremely well together. von Stroheim has no problem slipping into this snake role and he does a great job at playing the seducer as well as the con man. DuPont makes for a great victim as you can actually feel how soft and vulnerable she is. Even though the film is epic in scale, some of the best moments are smaller, quiet ones including a tremendously powerful scene where DuPont reacts to a man who has lost both of his arms in the war. The way this scene plays out is incredibly touching and perhaps the most powerful scene in the film. Another excellent scene happens when the maid, apparently another lover, finally realizes that she's been played all these years. Her breakdown is very effective and heartfelt. The ending has a spectacular fire sequence that contains some nice drama and the ending is pretty funny. The film being chopped down obviously leaves some flow issues but overall this is a much better film than BLIND HUSBANDS and one that really does fit the epic label. We'll never know if the uncut version is a masterpiece or not but what survives is a good indication of what might have been.
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