1923. USA. Directed by Erich von Stroheim, Rupert Julian.. Screenplay by Finis Fox, Harvey Gates, Stroheim. With Norman Kerry, Mary Philbin, Cesare Gravina. A Viennese Jew of lower-middle-class origins, Stroheim reinvented himself upon arriving in America as “the son of a German noblewoman and an Austrian count,” adding the fictitious “von” to his name much as a striving character in one of his melodramas might. The production of Merry-Go-Round was notoriously ill fated, a clash of outsized egos that led Universal Pictures producer Irving Thalberg, in a virtually unprecedented move by a major studio at the time, to fire Stroheim after six weeks of shooting and replace him with Rupert Julian. Though Stroheim disowned the film, what survives of his contributions is a tantalizing glimpse of imperial Vienna on the verge of collapse shortly before World War I. In this story of a love affair that transcends rigid social hierarchies, Count Franz Maximilian von Hohenegg (Norman Kerry) poses as a necktie salesman to woo Agnes Urban (Mary Philbin), the lovely but poor daughter of a circus puppeteer at the Prater amusement park. As revealed in this exhibition, the Prater was a favorite location for many filmmakers, from Stroheim and Josef von Sternberg to Richard Linklater, Carol Reed, and Ulrike Ottinger. Courtesy Kino Lorber. Silent with piano accompaniment 110 min.
1963–66. Austria. Directed by Ernst Schmidt, Jr. One of the platoon leaders in Vienna’s avant-garde army of the 1960s, Schmidt, Jr. began making P.R.A.T.E.R. as a student in 1963. By 1964, however, he dropped out of the industry-oriented Vienna Film Academy and began to treat the medium of film in ways that would quickly draw him into Actionist, Destructionist, and Expanded Cinema circles. His transition is revealed in this portrait of Prater folk, moving from a relatively documentary approach to a more fragmented and self-reflexive interest in cinema as contemporary art. A film critic and historian on the side, Schmidt was also acutely aware that the Prater amusement park had served as one of the birthplaces of cinema in Austria, and had a prominent role in the works and fantasies of such cherished predecessors as Erich von Stroheim and Josef von Sternberg. Courtesy The Austrian Film Museum. 19 min.
In the Film exhibition Vienna Unveiled: A City in Cinema