Erich von Stroheim

From my new book on the life and times of Rudolph Valentino, to be published in the fall of 2014: Rudy’s observations on one of the most creative, and controversial, directors of all time.

One of Hollywood’s most notable personalities, he traded on his German ancestry. We met, of course, although casually, on several occasions and I was very familiar with his work, his explorations of some of mankind’s baser instincts, and with such visual cues so as to sear them into the minds of those who watched his productions. He possessed great creativity which mostly flowed freely though he would self-block from time to time, leading to cost overruns and friction with powerbrokers, studio heads, or accounting departments.

A von Stroheim film I fondly remember is “Foolish Wives” where he was also on screen. He did not achieve the pinnacles others did as far as consistent popularity and box office but his films sparked controversy and therefore were the subject of many discussions. His Prussian bearing was slightly affected yet no one questioned it ~ part of his allure, the attraction that was von Stroheim. He and I did not have a strong connection but I admired his ability to be daring, stretch limits, call attention to some of the issues of the day.” ~ Rudolph Valentino

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