Erich Von Stoheim as the sharply dressed
heart-breaker in Foolish Wives
The reputation of maybe the two most famous films (though not necessarily most seen) of Erich Von Stroheim are that of the epic masterpieces that were cut to death by the studio and made almost incomprehensible. Foolish Wives was originally over six hours in length and tells the story of a con man (played by Stroheim) in Monte Carlo who takes advantage of rich women in Monte Carlo. You can really see some of the expense of the picture on the screen with scenery and extras and even in cut form, the plot of the film does flow well enough. There are some moments that do seem to be missing (including the death of Von Stroheim's character) but it is worth seeing for its historical value or if you feel you need to see at least one film from the maestro.
The final act of a selfish man
Even more infamous for being cut down to size is Von Stroheim's Greed, which is based on Frank Norris's novel, McTeague. This film was originally over eight hours long...but it kept getting cut and cut and cut...until it was between two and four hours, depending on which version you find. Apparently, there were side stories originally in the film (sounds like Intolerance) that went along with the main story of a dentist's slow descent into greed that are lost to history. To make it harder on myself, the version I found on YouTube to watch had French subtitles-which did indeed make it harder on my viewing. The desert finale is still a fine conclusion and reminiscent of the endings of later classics The Treasure of the Sierra Madre and The Good,The Bad and The Ugly.