THE MERRY WIDOW (1925) B/W "silent" 99m dir: Erich von Stroheim

w/John Gilbert, Mae Murray, Tully Marshall, Roy D'Arcy, Josephine Crowell

Using the Franz Lehar operetta only as a point of departure, director von Stroheim creates a delicious portrait of the Hapsburg Empire in final decay.

From Georges Sadoul's Dictionary of Films: "Stroheim's satire on the Viennese aristocracy has lost none of its bite and visual elegance with the years. Stroheim took the operetta's central theme --- a Prince (Gilbert) who falls in love with an American actress (Murray) --- and used it to portray a decadent aristocracy and court intrigue. Some of his more sardonic scenes were apparently removed in the producer's release version but this did not prevent it from becoming an enormous popular success. The difference between the Stroheim and Lubitsch versions is perhaps best described in Stroheim's own words: 'Lubitsch shows you first the king on the throne, then as he is in the bedroom. I show you the king in the bedroom so you'll know just what he is when you see him on his throne.'"