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With: Erich von Stroheim, Sam De Grasse, Francelia Billington, T.H. Gibson Gowland, Fay Holderness, Ruby Kendrick, Valerie Germonprez, Jack Perrin
Written by: Erich von Stroheim, Lillian Ducey
Directed by: Erich von Stroheim
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 93
Date: 10/21/1919

Blind Husbands (1919)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

'Von' Songs

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Erich von Stroheim's Blind Husbands (1919) was praised for its "realism," but not many noticed or anticipated its author's bizarre stylistic touches, which only increased with subsequent films. Blind Husbands contains all the usual Stroheim elements, including a lecherous count trying to worm his way into a married woman's graces. The story ends at the top of a treacherous mountain. And it's Stroheim's only film that was released more or less the way he intended it, minus his original title, The Pinnacle. But it's minor Stroheim, lacking in the scale, grandness and tragedy of his later films.

Kino's Blind Husbands disc also includes The Great Gabbo (1929, Kino, $29.95), an odd benchmark in Stroheim's career. It was his first talkie and his first starring role in a film that he did not write or direct. It's a kind of musical horror film with Stroheim playing a Svengalian ventriloquist who tries to lure his poor assistant back after she has dumped him and fallen in love with a more stable man.

The film's musical numbers grow increasingly bizarre, including the dummy singing the "yucky" song and a kind of spider-and-fly stage production. Like Bela Lugosi in Dracula, Stroheim was unable to shake the Gabbo persona and continued to play despicable villains for the rest of his career.

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