Monte-Carlo in Hollywood

Who wouldn’t recognise the legendary Casino de Monte-Carlo in this photo! And yet… the photo wasn’t taken in Monaco but at Universal Studios in 1922.

Eric von Stroheim wasn’t just the actor that film buffs saw in La grande illusion (Grand Illusion) or Sunset Boulevard, he was also an eccentric and whimsical director. For his film Foolish Wives (Folies de femmes), which took place in Monaco, he build a perfect replica of the Place du Casino in Hollywood that he filled with 14,000 extras. The very perfectionist Von Stroheim wanted every detail of the replica to be perfect so as to thoroughly capture the atmosphere of Monte-Carlo, including the bells for summoning the staff. This detail shows just how far he went; Foolish Wives was, after all, a silent film!

This film was the first with a budget of over a million dollars adjusted for the time, a third of which was dedicated to the extravagant decor, the replica of the famous Monaco roundabout.

Foolish Wives (Folies de femmes) was such a fascinating film for film lovers from so many standpoints, including the incredible decor at Universal Studios replicating the Place du Casino down to the last detail and the fascination that Monte-Carlo stirred up in the heart of Americans, thirty years before the legendary royal marriage linking the two nations.

The Place du Casino in Hollywood in 1922
The Place du Casino in Hollywood in 1922
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