Erich von Stroheim

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Erich von Stroheim
Erich Oswald Stroheim
BirthplaceVienna, Austria-Hungary
Actor, director, screenwriter, producer
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Stroheim, Erich Von


Born Sept. 22, 1885, in Vienna; died May 12, 1957, at Château Maurepas, near Paris. American director and actor; Austrian by nationality.

Stroheim moved to the USA in 1909. He began his career in 1915 as an actor. He wrote the screenplays and painted the sets for his films and sometimes acted the leading role. In his acting and directing he combined sarcasm, satire, and elements of the grotesque with documentary realism. He exposed in telling fashion the venality, depravity, callousness, and hypocrisy of bourgeois society. Stroheim created variations on the role of the cynic of refined cruelty, who was often a maniac. His films include Greed (1924), his greatest motion picture; Blind Husbands (1918); The Merry Widow (1925); and Wedding March (1928).

Stroheim’s films provoked angry protests from producers and the press. His motion pictures were often subjected to cutting and distortion, with other directors being called in to remake them. An artist who refused to compromise, Stroheim gave up directing in the 1930’s to work mainly as an actor. Stroheim’s most famous roles include von Rauffenstein in The Grand Illusion (1937), the Spy in Gibraltar (1938; released in the USSR under the title The Spy Network), General Rommel in FiveGraves to Cairo (1943), and the Butler in Sunset Boulevard (1950).

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.