Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Everything You Ever Need To Know About Life...

... you can learn from:

Max Von Mayerling: She was the greatest of them all. You wouldn't know, you're too young. In one week she received 17,000 fan letters. Men bribed her hairdresser to get a lock of her hair. There was a maharajah who came all the way from India to beg one of her silk stockings. Later he strangled himself with it!

I am primed and prepped to get a little bit obsessed with Erich Von Stroheim right now and I can't believe it's taken me this long. Have any of you watched a thirteen-part documentary called Hollywood from the early 80s? Buzzfeed had this great list a couple of weeks ago called "26 Hard-To-Find Movies That Remind Us Why VHS, DVD, And LaserDisc Still Matter" and coming in at #14 was this enormous doc. Thanks to the post's comments I found out the entire thing is uploaded onto YouTube, so I've been watching it in bits and pieces - it is seriously hefty, but I'm nearly done.

That chapter right there focuses in on two silent directors - Cecil B Demille and Erich Von Stroheim. I knew who Von Stroheim was, of course, I went to film school for god's sake, but clearly not the best film school because I realized watching this that I'm fairly certain I've never actually seen any of the movies he directed! Clips, probably yeah, but never all the way through. Woe is me (and especially woe is my student loan debt, amounting to nothing).

A lot of his films are uploaded onto YouTube; here's the shortened version of Greed (less than two hours) that we have access to (it infamously ran eight hours long in his original cut), for example. You can also rent several of them via DVD at Netflix. Point being, I have some catching up to do.

But even beyond his actual movies it's the man himself that I want to know everything there is to know after watching that Hollywood doc's take on him, he seems like he was the exact kind of fascinating tortured crazy person that I ought to be obsessed with. I bought this biography of him called Von: The Life and Films of Erich Von Stroheim, which looks pretty thorough, so once I finish the Tab Hunter bio I'm in the middle of (I know, gay gay gay) I'm looking to dive straight into Von-Stroheim-ville.

So... any fans?


joel65913 said...

Funny you should mention him, I had watched part of The Merry Widow once and something went wrong with the recording but what I saw intrigued me. TCM is showing it again at the end of this month so I'm going to re-record and finish watching. It was definitely stylized and Mae Murray came across as batshit crazy as she apparently was in real life.

john said...

Thanks so much for linking to the Hollywood doc. Looks invaluable to anyone interested in film history.