Erich von Stroheim’s Foolish Wives

Aug 24, 2022


Foolish Wives. 1922. USA. Directed by Erich von Stroheim. Courtesy The Museum of Modern Art Stills Archive
  • MoMA, Floor 1, Sculpture Garden The Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden

Advertised as “the first million-dollar movie” when it was released in 1922, Erich von Stroheim’s Foolish Wives offered American audiences a sweeping vision of European decadence, unforgettably embodied by the director himself in his starring performance as Count Sergius Karamzin, a phony Russian aristocrat who bilks the naïve tourists of Monte Carlo with the help of his two dubious “cousins” (Mae Busch and Maude George). Marking the film’s centennial, this will be the New York premiere of a major new restoration of this silent classic, produced by MoMA and the San Francisco Silent Film Festival. The sole surviving nitrate print of the American release version, preserved in MoMA’s archive since the 1930s, has been scanned, regraded, and digitally restored to remove dirt, scratches, and printing imperfections, to yield a visual quality not seen since the film’s initial release, and augmented with a recreation of the film’s long-unseen original tinting, including a spectacular hand-colored fire sequence at the film’s climax. Stroheim’s performance as the egregiously amoral count has lost none of its wickedness and subversive appeal—100 years later, he remains the Man You Love to Hate.

Organized by Dave Kehr, Curator, Department of Film.

Film at MoMA is made possible by CHANEL.

Additional support is provided by the Annual Film Fund. Leadership support for the Annual Film Fund is provided by Debra and Leon D. Black and by Steven Tisch, with major contributions from The Contemporary Arts Council of The Museum of Modern Art, Jo Carole and Ronald S. Lauder, MoMA’s Wallis Annenberg Fund for Innovation in Contemporary Art through the Annenberg Foundation, the Association of Independent Commercial Producers (AICP), The Junior Associates of The Museum of Modern Art, the Samuel I. Newhouse Foundation, Karen and Gary Winnick, and The Brown Foundation, Inc., of Houston.


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