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1919 Blind Husbands


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Erich von Stroheim's fame as a director probably owes more to his out sized personality than to his meager output: nine films, one of which- "The Devil's Pass Key" is not in existence.  Wow, I thought the guy had helmed a lot more movies than this.  I am going to watch all of them and report back.  "Blind Husbands" is his first and he does an excellent job in presenting his freshman work.  Obviously Mr. von Stroheim had been paying attention while hanging around film sets fort the previous ten or so years before picking up a camera.  Based on a novel "The Pinnacle" that he wrote this is a fairly simple story of an American couple on vacation in the Swiss-Italian Alps (The Dolomites) whose marriage is put to the test by the attentions paid to the wife by an Austrian soldier (von Stroheim leaner and shorter than I ever imagined).  The wife has been neglected by her doctor husband and toys with the ides of an affair with our Erich.  However when push come to shove she backs off.  Story is rather tame and there is a happy ending (not for Erich who topples off a mountain top).  I like that von Stroheim does not make his soldier sympathetic-in fact the final scene with him atop the mountain, vultures hovering, he turns out to be a bit of a sniveling weakling.  Mr. von Stroheim had a sense of humor about himself, nice to know.  Where were the impressive mountain scenes filmed-does anyone know? The film holds up well and is very watchable by today's standard.  I'd like to point out that von Stroheim works a cigarette better than anyone (except for maybe Bette Davis) in the movies.  He is a maestro at it.  Off to a stellar start who knew of the troubles that were to come in his career.

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