“BLIND HUSBANDS” / recording for ZDF & ARTE CINE-CONCERT with ENSEMBLE RECHERCHE [music of Andreas Eduardo Frank]
Nacho de Paz, conductor
USA 1919, 100 min. | HD-s/w-restaurierte Fassung
WORLD PREMIERE RECORDING
In his debut film, Erich v. Stroheim immediately delivers everything that later made him legendary as ‘man you love to hate’: a thrilling story about an impostor and supposed officer (played by the director himself) who puts the fidelity of a bored wife to the test and makes other women unhappy in the process. A brilliantly staged drama in the mountains and farce on bourgeois marriage.
Erich von Stroheim
Ben F. Reynolds
Sam De Grasse (Dr. Robert Armstrong), Francelia Billington (Margaret Armstrong, his wife), Erich von Stroheim (Lt. Erich von Steuben), T. H. Gibson-Gowland (Sepp, Mountain guide) u.v.a.
FILM RESTORATION (2021):
SCORE MUSIC (2021):
Andreas Eduardo Frank (Commissioned by ZDF in collaboration with Arte)
Nina Goslar, ZDF
Thomas Schmölz, 2eleven music film
The US-American physician Dr. Armstrong spends his holidays in the Dolomites with his wife. Erich von Steuben, an Austrian officer and womaniser, is also staying at the same hotel. On the way there, von Steuben already realises that Armstrong is neglecting his wife. As soon as he arrives in Cortina, von Steuben begins to ensnare her. At the same time, he also makes advances on maids at the hotel.
Mrs. Armstrong almost succumbs to his advances, but Sepp, a mountain guide who is a friend of von Steuben’s, repeatedly gets in the way of von Steuben’s intentions. Finally, Mrs Armstrong tells von Steuben in a letter that she wants to remain faithful to her husband.
When the doctor and the officer climb a mountain together, things escalate between the two men on the summit. Armstrong gets hold of his wife’s letter. He misunderstands the contents and believes there is an affair between his wife and von Steuben. He angrily cuts the rope between him and the officer. He leaves him alone and descends into the valley. Halfway down, he finds his wife’s letter to von Steuben, which he had thrown down earlier, and realises his mistake. Armstrong has an accident on the rock. When he is rescued by local climbers, he asks them to fetch von Steuben from the summit. Meanwhile, von Steuben, who had previously bragged about his mountaineering exploits, panics and falls to the depths while a party ascends to rescue him.
ABOUT THE FILM
Blind Husbands was already a great cinema success in its time and established Erich v. Stroheim’s rank as one of the most important directors of American silent cinema. Under the title ‘The Pinnacle’ he had offered the script to the Universal boss Carl Laemmle. The motifs of his later films already appear here: the decadence of the imperial and royal monarchy, criticism of the bourgeoisie. Monarchy, criticism of the bourgeois family and a depiction of erotic longings and frustrations that was unusually open for the time. Stroheim staged unsentimentally and provoked from the beginning with his unique mixture of realism and ironic exaggeration, which he himself stood for in the role of the deceitful officer von Steuben.