Erich von Stroheim during the production of "The Wedding March", 1926
Erich von Stroheim
The Richard Koszarski – Erich von Stroheim Collection
The Film Museum is now home to an important collection concerning the legendary Austrian American director, actor, and author Erich von Stroheim (1885–1957).
Born Erich Oswald Stroheim in Vienna's Neubau neighborhood, "Von" (as he was often called in Hollywood) re-invented himself upon his arrival on Ellis Island, New York. The son of a Jewish craftsman became a noble cavalry officer: Hollywood's leading old-world villain, "the man you love to hate," he was also among the most important directors of the silent era and his style influenced filmmakers as diverse as Sergei Eisenstein, Jean Renoir and Alfred Hitchcock.
Stroheim's style is marked by precision and his extreme concentration on the essentials: avoiding wordy intertitles, his dramas unfold in glances, close-ups and a virtually dialectical montage. Stroheim became notorious for his feuds with the Hollywood studios, to which the final cut of his directorial work often fell victim.
Erich von Stroheim's work circles back again and again to his hometown, Vienna – for example, in Merry-Go-Round (1923) and The Wedding March (1926–28) – to a city and time that he loved and hated like hardly any other. We have been closely connected to Erich von Stroheim since our founding: his films have been regularly shown since 1966 (most recently in 2022 in our "Collection on Screen" series), studied, and presented in the form of books and DVD editions (Erich von Stroheim by Jon Barna, 1966; Blind Husbands, Edition Filmmuseum, 2006). In 2021, the team of our film collection completed a major international restoration project and presented a reconstruction of the oldest and most complete version of Blind Husbands, corresponding to the original version from 1919 as represented by the continuity script.
After talks spanning many years between Director Michael Loebenstein and American film historian Richard Koszarski, in early 2022, the Film Museum was able to acquire Koszarski's important Erich von Stroheim collection.
This collection is especially valuable for film history, for our institution, for the city of Vienna where Stroheim was born, and for all researchers who are interested in silent film in general and this important filmmaker in particular. For Stroheim research, it complements the large, partial collections in Los Angeles (Margaret Herrick Library) and Paris (Cinémathèque française).
Contemporary Universal ad for "Foolish Wives," 1922
Richard Koszarski has studied the Austrian American director, actor and (script)writer since the late 1960s. He began by compiling a complete bibliography by and about Stroheim and, in the 1970s, conducted a series of interviews with personalities who knew Stroheim or had worked with him, including cameramen, actors and scriptwriters, such as James Wong Howe, Grant Wytock, Fay Wray, Hal Mohr, Ray Rennahan, William Margulies, Lewis Milestone, J.J. Cohn, Anita Loos and Paul Ivano.
The crowning achievement of his research was the publication of the book The Man You Loved to Hate in 1983. In 2021 came the even more comprehensive The Life & Films of Erich von Stroheim. Richard Koszarski's interests and research endeavors, however, go well beyond these two publications: "I vowed to learn everything I could about this man and how his personal vision fed into an even greater legend, the rise of Hollywood and the international motion picture industry." He continued broadening and enriching his collection through 2021; this collection is his life's work.
Richard Koszarski describes his motivation to donate his collection to the Film Museum: "Erich von Stroheim may have left Vienna in 1908, but Vienna never left him. A state of mind more than a simple geographic location, its ambivalent charms seized his imagination and never let go. As soon as he had the opportunity – exactly one hundred years ago, in August of 1922 – he began filming Merry-Go-Round. ... When the time came to find a home for the boxes of material I had collected, I knew that much could already be found in the places he had done most of his work, in Hollywood and Paris. But it was Vienna he wrote about, and Vienna that would see itself in this record. I packed up the scripts and photos, interview tapes and legal memos, and sent everything to Vienna."
The collection includes a wide palette of materials: scripts, contracts, documentation of legal conflicts, memos, books by and about Stroheim, over 600 photos, posters, news clippings, audio recordings and a number of other ephemeral items that are essential to illuminating Stroheim's personality from his beginnings as an actor in Hollywood to his cinematic masterpieces from the 1920s and his later film and theater career in America and Europe.
The "Richard Koszarski – Erich von Stroheim Collection" will be processed and made accessible in the following years. Our goal is to present it to the public as a digitally accessible, online research collection by the end of 2024. We also plan to start a sponsoring project in 2023 to help make our collection accessible and to purchase further (now restored) films by Stroheim. Details to follow.
If you are interested, please contact Alessandra Thiele,
Paolo Caneppele, Film-Related Collection Manager

+43 1 533 70 54 Ext. 211

DVD Blind Husbands | Video Essay - Blind Husbands. Version Comparison | Restoration Blind Husbands | Retrospective 1966 | Retrospective 2002 | Collection on Screen 2022 | Special Collections | Film Sponsorship Project | Literature on Stroheim in our library | Peep Show "Who Is This Man?"