According to the Universal’s press department, the picture cost $1,103,736.38; was 11 months and six days in filming; six months in assembling and editing; consumed 320,000 feet of negative, and employed as many as 15,000 extras for atmosphere.
Foolish Wives shows the cost – in the sets, beautiful backgrounds and massive interiors that carry a complete suggestion of the atmosphere of Monte Carlo, the locale of the story. And the sets, together with a thoroughly capable cast, are about all the picture has for all the heavy dough expended.
Obviously intended to be a sensational sex melodrama, Foolish Wives is at the same time frankly salacious.
Erich von Stroheim wrote the script, directed, and is the featured player. He’s all over the lot every minute. His character is a Russian Captain of Hussars. The uniform may be Russian, but von Stroheim’s general facial and physical appearance clearly suggests the typical Prussian military officer.
The story starts with a flirtation between the Count (Von Stroheim) and the American diplomat’s wife, continues along with his obvious attempts to possess her, right under her husband’s nose, and with the woman’s evident liking for the count’s attentions.