He was the “Man You Love to Hate.” Considered by some to be the director who most influenced European filmmakers, he was admired by the likes of France’s Jean Renoir and the Soviet Union’s Sergei Eisenstein. During the silent era, he was a contemporary of such directors as Cecil B. DeMille and D.W. Griffith.
However, Erich von Stroheim is known less today for the films he directed — including his 1924 masterwork, “Greed” — than for his Oscar-nominated performance as Max, the bald, stern and stoic butler to Gloria Swanson’s Norma Desmond in Billy Wilder’s 1950 Hollywood classic, “Sunset Boulevard.”
As the story unfolds, it is learned that Max not only had been Norma’s husband but a famous Hollywood director who fell out of favor with the studios. And in the ultimate irony, the silent film clip used in “Sunset Boulevard” is from the unfinished 1929 Swanson film “Queen Kelly,” which Von Stroheim directed.
Though biographies have been written and documentaries produced about the actor-director, few have been able to truly crack the well-crafted myth surrounding his very public persona. Born in Vienna, Von Stroheim came to New York in 1909 and quickly created an elaborate back story for himself, saying he was the son of Prussian nobility. Actually, he was the son of a lower-middle-class Jewish hat maker.
|1950||Best Supporting Actor||Sunset Blvd.||Nomination|