Rarely in history has a single film catapulted a director to the forefront of world cinema, but the innovative style and sophisticated themes of Blind Husbands made Erich von Stroheim an immediate sensation, exposing the complex layers of repression, jealousy, and lust that lie beneath the surface of an American couple’s marriage. As they vacation in the Alps, a roguish officer (von Stroheim) ensnares the wife (Francellia Billington) in a web of infidelity, testing her loyalty and ultimately challenging the manhood of her husband (Sam DeGrasse).
One of Hollywood’s earliest — and most peculiar — musicals, The Great Gabbo stars von Stroheim as an egotistical ventriloquist who casts a Svengali-like spell upon an ingenue (Betty Compson), against a backdrop of singularly strange numbers (including “Icky” and the spider-and-fly-themed “Caught in a Web”). Director James Cruze (The Covered Wagon) allowed von Stroheim to endow the character with his signature flourishes, resulting in a wicked cocktail of garish stage shows and Austro-Hungarian villainy that is a diabolical delight.
“A true artist — My God, he had talent!” – Orson Welles