Review: The Wedding March (1928)

Erich von Stroheim directs and stars (as the romantic lead!?!) in a gorgeous film with early Technicolor.

Erich von Stroheim wrote, directed and starred in this impressive tragic romance about a nobleman who forsakes true love to marry a wealthy heiress, ensuring that he and his family can continue to live in the opulent style to which they’re accustomed.

At the heart of The Wedding March is the tender courtship of Nicki, a captain in the mounted guard and Mitzi, the beautiful working class girl whose mother is pushing her to marry a repugnant butcher. The scene where Nicki and Mitzi catch each other’s eye while waiting outside a church for a religious procession to begin is wonderful to behold. Not a word passes between Nicki, mounted in full regalia, and Mitzi, jostled about in the crowd, in a touching scene perfectly suited to silent film.

Von Stroheim, who uncharacteristically but effectively plays the love interest, loved his military regalia, pomp and pageantry and there’s plenty of it in The Wedding March. The film also boasts terrific performances by Fay Wray as the Mitzi and Zasu Pitts (the star of von Stroheim’s masterwork Greed) as the lame heiress whom Nicki is eventually forced to marry. There’s a segment shot in Technicolor and a beautiful set piece involving falling apple blossoms.

This was the first in von Stroheim’s planned trilogy. The second film, Honeymoon, was lost in a fire and the third was never made. Too bad. I’d love to know what fate had in store for these star-crossed lovers. [***** out of 5]

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