The Man You Loved to Hate is a perfunctory but interesting documentary of the life and work of Erich von Stroheim. Through filmclips, still pictures, newsreel vignettes and interviews with friends and intimates, the film traces the spectacular rise and precipitous fall of von Stroheim's directorial career. Enjoying unexpected success with his inaugural directorial effort Blind Husbands (1919), Von Stroheim rapidly becomes the most self-destructive, profligate filmmaker in Hollywood. Greed (1923), now considered the director's masterpiece, proves the beginning of the end for von Stroheim when the 40-reel film is taken out of his hands and radically reshaped by MGM. He enjoys a healthy comeback with the financial success of The Merry Widow, but before long his career is in the dumpster thanks to such expensive flops as The Wedding March and the never-completed Queen Kelly. Von Stroheim spends the rest of his years as a character actor in other men's films, often as not cast as a cold-hearted villain. Treated as a relic in Hollywood, Von Stroheim continues to be lauded as a genius in Europe until his death in 1957. Though assembled with only a modicum of imagination, The Man You Loved to Hate is a valuable record of one of cinema's most gifted mavericks.
by Hal Erickson synopsis