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.