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HISTORY

The story ends with a passage from a non-existent novel called Foolish Wives: “And thus it happened that disillusionment came finally to a foolish wife, who found in her own husband the nobility she had sought for in a counterfeit.”
       The final card contains the following information: “It’s a Universal Picture. Did you like it? Write me your opinion. – Carl Laemmle, Pres.” Laemmle was so concerned with the expense of Foolish Wives that he appealed to theater owners and distributors in a two full-page advertisement in the 1 Jan 1922 FD to “bid for” the movie, because “Universal’s Million Dollar Picture is so totally beyond the class of any production ever before attempted that it must be handled in a revolutionary manner. Universal can never get its money back on this stupendous super-production.… We will have to take in two and one half million to break even.” Laemmle asked exhibitors “to make your very highest bid for Foolish Wives.
       Elaborate replicas of the casino and plaza of Monte Carlo, along with a French village, a castle, and many interiors were built in Point Lobus, south of Monterey, CA, the 30 Oct 1920 Exhibitors Herald reported. Several hundred carpenters worked for weeks to recreate the Riviera resort. The 20 Nov 1920 Exhibitors Herald announced that director Erich Von Stroheim was filming his final scenes. Among the extras were several San Francisco, CA, millionaires, including banker Charles Crocker and his wife, Mary Ann Deming, who agreed to appear in return for Carl Laemmle donating $3,000 to their favorite charities.
       The production reportedly cost over $1 million, according ... More Less

The story ends with a passage from a non-existent novel called Foolish Wives: “And thus it happened that disillusionment came finally to a foolish wife, who found in her own husband the nobility she had sought for in a counterfeit.”
       The final card contains the following information: “It’s a Universal Picture. Did you like it? Write me your opinion. – Carl Laemmle, Pres.” Laemmle was so concerned with the expense of Foolish Wives that he appealed to theater owners and distributors in a two full-page advertisement in the 1 Jan 1922 FD to “bid for” the movie, because “Universal’s Million Dollar Picture is so totally beyond the class of any production ever before attempted that it must be handled in a revolutionary manner. Universal can never get its money back on this stupendous super-production.… We will have to take in two and one half million to break even.” Laemmle asked exhibitors “to make your very highest bid for Foolish Wives.
       Elaborate replicas of the casino and plaza of Monte Carlo, along with a French village, a castle, and many interiors were built in Point Lobus, south of Monterey, CA, the 30 Oct 1920 Exhibitors Herald reported. Several hundred carpenters worked for weeks to recreate the Riviera resort. The 20 Nov 1920 Exhibitors Herald announced that director Erich Von Stroheim was filming his final scenes. Among the extras were several San Francisco, CA, millionaires, including banker Charles Crocker and his wife, Mary Ann Deming, who agreed to appear in return for Carl Laemmle donating $3,000 to their favorite charities.
       The production reportedly cost over $1 million, according to the 28 Jan 1923 Exhibitors Herald. von Stroheim, a notorious perfectionist, shot thousands of feet of film and took eighteen months to complete the film. The Jul 1921 and Oct 1921 issues of Motion Picture revealed that he began the project thinking it would cost only $250,000. Filming went on so long that one of the leading men, Rudolph Christians, died and a double replaced him for the rest of the picture; actresses lost or gained noticeable amounts of weight. Von Stroheim presented Foolish Wives to Universal as a fourteen-reel film, but was ordered to cut it down to ten or eleven. (Another source, the 11 Jan 1922 FD, reports that Von Stroheim began with 32 reels of film.) Eventually, Universal took the film away from him, according to the 22 Aug 1922 FD. The advertising tag line for the film, using Von Stroheim’s own villainous “Count Sergius Karamzin” as the illustration, was “The Man You Will Love to Hate.”
       The 7 Jul 1922 FD announced that, of Universal’s upcoming fifty-seven films, twelve of them would be “Jewels,” released at the rate of one a month. The first was Foolish Wives, scheduled for Aug 1922, although the film had premiered eight months earlier, on 11 Jan 1922, in New York City.
       According to the 11 Jan 1922 FD,. reviews from major publications generally praised the photography and sets, but felt there was “too much Von Stroheim.” In Columbus, OH, the main critic was the Ohio State Censor Board, which rejected Foolish Wives, the 6 Feb 1922 FD reported. Universal sent Harry Berman to appeal the decision, but the board stated it would “stand pat on its decision.”
       The Jun 1922 issue of The Educational Screen listed Foolish Wives as one of the year’s “Fifteen Best Productions (of those reviewed so far).” It called the film “unclassified because of its strangely dual aspect. Foolish Wives was a great picture, carefully directed, perhaps one of the best in motion picture history. But in our minds, it could not be listed without this reservation,--it's material was unfit for general public consumption; it belonged in psychopathic records.”
       It is available on YouTube in 2016. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Exhibitors Herald
30 Oct 1920
p. 44.
Exhibitors Herald
20 Nov 1920
p. 101.
Exhibitors Herald
4 Dec 1920
p. 73.
Exhibitors Herald
28 Jan 1922
p. 50.
Film Daily
1 Jan 1922
p. 8, 9.
Film Daily
11 Jan 1922
p. 4.
Film Daily
15 Jan 1922
p. 3.
Film Daily
6 Feb 1922
p. 4.
Film Daily
7 Mar 1922
p. 1.
Film Daily
7 Jul 1922
p. 1.
Film Daily
22 Aug 1922
p. 3.
Motion Picture News
Jul 1921
p. 92.
Motion Picture News
Oct 1921
p. 40-43.
Moving Picture World
31 Dec 1921
p. 1077.
New York Times
12 Jan 1922
p. 15.
Photoplay
Mar 1922
p. 70.
The Educational Screen
Jun 1922
p. 203.
Variety
20 Jan 1922
p. 35.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Carl Laemmle Presents
It's a Universal Picture
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir, Tech staff
Asst dir, Tech staff
PRODUCER
WRITERS
Titles, Tech staff
Titles, Tech staff
PHOTOGRAPHY
Photog
Illumination and lighting eff
ART DIRECTORS
Architect, Tech staff
Architect, Tech staff
Tech dept, Tech staff
Tech dept, Tech staff
Tech dept, Tech staff
Scenic artist
Sculpture
FILM EDITOR
Film ed, Tech staff
SET DECORATOR
Props
COSTUMES
MUSIC
Mus score
PRODUCTION MISC
Props
DETAILS
Release Date:
8 May 1922
Premiere Information:
New York premiere: 11 January 1922
Production Date:
ended late November or early December 1920
Copyright Claimant:
Universal Film Manufacturing Co.
Copyright Date:
11 February 1922
Copyright Number:
LP17550
Physical Properties:
Silent
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
141
Length(in feet):
14,120
Length(in reels):
14
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Count Sergius Karamzin, a Russian adventurer, and his two "princess" cousins, Olga and Vera Petchnikoff, lease a villa at Monte Carlo and cultivate the friendship of American envoy Andrew J. Hughes and his young wife, Helen, who is flattered by the count's flirtations. While strolling in the country, the count and Helen take refuge from a storm in a hut, and though they are obliged to remain overnight, the arrival of an old monk keeps the Russian from revealing his intentions. Back at the casino, the diplomat's wife wins, and when the party retires to the count's villa for poker, Mrs. Hughes, in response to a secret note from the count, meets him in the tower, where he wheedles her out of her money and begins to seduce her. Meanwhile, Hughes, having discovered the cousins cheating at the casino, returns to the hotel. The count's maid, a victim of his lechery, becomes desperately jealous, sets fire to the villa, and leaps into the sea. The count and Mrs. Hughes are saved by jumping into a life net, and Hughes, becoming aware of the count's intrigue, attacks him and arranges a duel for the following morning. Infuriated by his folly, Olga and Vera drive the count from the villa; at the house of Ventucci, for whom he has been passing counterfeit money, the count attacks Ventucci's halfwitted daughter; later, Ventucci kills Count Karamzin and drops his body in a sewer. Returning from the dueling place, Hughes finds that his wife has given premature birth to a child, and they are reconciled. ... +


Count Sergius Karamzin, a Russian adventurer, and his two "princess" cousins, Olga and Vera Petchnikoff, lease a villa at Monte Carlo and cultivate the friendship of American envoy Andrew J. Hughes and his young wife, Helen, who is flattered by the count's flirtations. While strolling in the country, the count and Helen take refuge from a storm in a hut, and though they are obliged to remain overnight, the arrival of an old monk keeps the Russian from revealing his intentions. Back at the casino, the diplomat's wife wins, and when the party retires to the count's villa for poker, Mrs. Hughes, in response to a secret note from the count, meets him in the tower, where he wheedles her out of her money and begins to seduce her. Meanwhile, Hughes, having discovered the cousins cheating at the casino, returns to the hotel. The count's maid, a victim of his lechery, becomes desperately jealous, sets fire to the villa, and leaps into the sea. The count and Mrs. Hughes are saved by jumping into a life net, and Hughes, becoming aware of the count's intrigue, attacks him and arranges a duel for the following morning. Infuriated by his folly, Olga and Vera drive the count from the villa; at the house of Ventucci, for whom he has been passing counterfeit money, the count attacks Ventucci's halfwitted daughter; later, Ventucci kills Count Karamzin and drops his body in a sewer. Returning from the dueling place, Hughes finds that his wife has given premature birth to a child, and they are reconciled. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.