The Merry Widow (1925 film)

The Merry Widow is a 1925 American silent romantic drama/black comedy film directed and written by Erich von Stroheim. Released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, the film stars Mae Murray, John Gilbert, Roy D'Arcy, and Tully Marshall[2][3], with pre-fame uncredited appearances by Joan Crawford and Clark Gable.

The Merry Widow
Directed byErich von Stroheim
Produced byErich von Stroheim
Irving Thalberg (uncredited)
Written byErich von Stroheim
Benjamin Glazer
Based onThe Merry Widow
by Franz Lehár
Victor Léon (libretto)
Leo Stein (libretto)
StarringMae Murray
John Gilbert
Roy D'Arcy
Tully Marshall
Music byWilliam Axt (uncredited)
David Mendoza (uncredited)
Franz Lehár (non-original music)
CinematographyOliver T. Marsh
William H. Daniels
Edited byFrank E. Hull
Margaret Booth (uncredited)
Distributed byMetro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date
August 26, 1925 (1925-08-26)
Running time
137 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageSilent (English intertitles)
Box office$1.9 million[1]

The film is based on the Franz Lehár's operetta of the same name, and was its second film adaptation, the first being a 1918 Hungarian film directed by Michael Curtiz.

While a print of the film still survives, the end sequence shot in two-tone Technicolor is now lost.[4]


Prince Danilo falls in love with dancer Sally O'Hara. His uncle, King Nikita I of Monteblanco, forbids the marriage because she is a commoner. Thinking she has been jilted by her prince, Sally marries the old and lecherous Baron Sadoja, whose wealth has kept the kingdom afloat. When he dies suddenly, Sally must be wooed all over again by Danilo.



Selected cast that were uncredited:


The film was shot over twelve weeks with a budget of $592,000. Filming was tense as Mae Murray and the film's director, Erich von Stroheim, did not get on well. After production, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer decided it could no longer work with the director after he added sexually explicit scenes and changed the operetta's libretto.[5]


Upon its release, the film was both a critical and box office success. Critics praised Murray's dramatic skills while also noting that von Stroheim had "made an actress out of Miss Murray".[6] The film made a profit of $758,000.[1][7]

Other adaptations

The Merry Widow was adapted for the screen in 1934, 1952, 1962, and 1994.

See also


  1. The Eddie Mannix Ledger, Los Angeles: Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study.
  2. Variety film review; September 2, 1925, page 36.
  3. Harrison's Reports film review; September 12, 1925, page 147.
  4. "Cinema", TIME, September 14, 1925
  5. Sullivan, Chris (February 2019). "Erich Von Stroheim". Chap. Spring 2019: 23–27.
  6. Ankerich, Michael G. (2012). Mae Murray: The Girl with the Bee-Stung Lips. University Press of Kentucky. pp. 166–168. ISBN 0-813-14038-2.
  7. Scott Eyman, Lion of Hollywood: The Life and Legend of Louis B. Mayer, Robson, 2005 p 99
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