About the Film
A trio of Russian con artists take a luxurious villa above Monte Carlo to prey on wealthy marks in this European playground of postwar decadence. Stroheim— in the monocled role that solidified him as “the man you love to hate”—stars as the fraudulent Count Karazmin, who targets moneyed women to blackmail them with the help of “cousins” Mae Busch and Maud George. The opulent sets—with the California coast standing in for Monaco—shine in this glorious restoration by MoMA and SFSFF.
About the Restoration
No single complete copy of the release version of Erich von Stroheim’s film survives. What does survive are a tinted-and-toned 35mm nitrate print with Italian intertitles from Cineteca Italiana of Milan and, from New York’s Museum of Modern Art, a 35mm black-and-white print of an unreleased re-edited and re-titled version created in 1928 by Universal for a never-realized sound release. Available documentation was invaluable in the reconstruction of the film, and it included the script for an eight-reel version and, from the Library of Congress, a copy of Sigmund Romberg’s piano score, whose musical cues helped reconstruct the film’s sequencing and title content. As neither of the surviving sources had original intertitles, new titles were based on the design and typeface as other Universal Super-Jewel releases of the time. To reproduce the tinting and toning the team relied on the coloring conventions of Universal films of the period. For the spectacular hand-colored effects the team used contemporary reviews and a trade press article written by the original colorist Gustav Brock.
San Francisco Silent Film Festival
The Museum of Modern Art