In Hollywood, you're as good as your last picture. If you didn't have one in production in the last three months, you're forgotten, no matter what you have achieved.” His salary in Hollywood: $5,000 per week + 1,500,000 French Francs upon completion of the film Sunset Boulevard, 1950. In 1917, he got paid $75 a week.
From his quotes: “If you live in France and you have written one good book, or painted one good picture, or directed one outstanding film, 50 years ago, and nothing ever since, you are still recognized as an artist and honored accordingly.
A director extraordinaire, a cinema legend, and a pervert. von Stroheim, was the first director to fully incorporate orgies scene and kinky sex in some of the most memorable films in the history of Hollywood, both “silents”, and “talkies”. He fabricated a phantasmagoric story about his background, and claimed to be one of the aristocrats of Austria and Germany, while in reality, he came from a very modest family. He was the son of a lower-middle-class Jewish artisan.
They were shot in several films. For instance, the cost to shoot the Babylonian orgy sequence in “The Fall of Babylon” exceeded $200,000. Cameraman Karl Brown talked about a scene, where actors and actresses playing the role of Babylonian harem were completely naked, and before filming that nudity scene, he was escorted out, because he was too young to see naked women, parading nude and doing all sorts of acts. It is an absolute fact, that when Joseph Henabery was shooting several nudity scenes, producers and the studio’s executives showed up on the set to remind him that the film needed more sex and ‘frontal nudity” close-ups. Even, the conservative Cecile B. DeMille shot obscene scenes and outrageous sex sequences; in his film “Manslaughter”, 1922, we see a scene where two lesbians are kissing each other passionately, and their tongues inside each other’ mouth. So, it is very possible that von Stroheim’s orgies scenes were shot indeed, and Gloria Swanson denied it for reasons we know and reasons we don’t know. In fact, it was Swanson who has suggested to von Stroheim to hire prostitutes for the orgies scenes. She poured a great deal of her own money in that film. Thalberg himself complained about the huge number of extras (prostitutes,) von Stroheim hired for shooting the scenes, and the cost of extravagant embroidered underwear for soldiers, and silk masks to cover the faces of extras who engaged in real kinky sex. Erich von Stroheim became famous for his sexual fetishes and orgies scenes in three films: “The Wedding March”, 1928, “Merry-Go-Round”, 1922, “The Merry Widow”, 1925.
ORGIES SCENES WERE NOT SOMETHING UNCONCEIVABLE.
Others have said, that the faces of the extras (actors and prostitutes-actresses) were masked, and the reason for that, was to hide their identities, because they did not want to be seen on the screen “fucking each other.” Insiders have claimed that the players were not professional actors and actresses, but extras. Back then, the word extra meant many things including whores, and “Harem”, Hollywood’s harem, that is; another word meaning prostitutes. Everybody in Hollywood knew that the studios called these prostitutes “extras”, because they did not want the vice squad to raid on the studio. The studios also feared if the police department became aware of these women, they will lock them up on charge of vagrancy, since Hollywood’s whores had no official residency in the city. In fact, when these extras were hired, their employment cards showed fake addresses given by the studios.
Gloria Swanson would not admit that Stroheim did in fact shoot sex scenes using whores and homosexuals, but at one time, she made it very clear, that in “the dark corners of some scenes, somebody had screwed somebody…” In fact, the alleged orgies scenes did not bother Swanson at all, for it was common knowledge, that Swanson herself was a nymphomaniac, a bisexual, and did participate in many orgies with female stars members of the notorious “Sewing Circle.”
Later on, Irving Thalberg fired von Stroheim and replaced with Rupert Julian. Some insiders have claimed that three of von Stroheim’s film, were full of obscene scenes of orgies and real kinky sexual acts. Author Anger wrote that that the orgy and bordello scenes Stroheim filmed were genuinely naughty...giving booze to extras and encouraging kinky acts. Because of this outrageous obscenity, Louis B. Mayer and Thalberg fired von Stroheim.
Erich von Stroheim is the notorious and infamous director of “The Merry Widow”, MGM, 1925. Von Stroheim was asked to direct Mae Murray when he heard that the job was to go to her husband, Robert Z. Leonard. He appealed to the head of MGM; Louis B. Mayer became disturbed when Stroheim said that the girl would be a whore and he struck him, as reported by Kevin Brownlow.