Saturday, March 3, 2012


A ruffian miner becomes a dentist's apprentice, moves to San Francisco, and eventually takes over his practice. There he weds a girl betrothed to his best friend, and all goes sour when a lottery ticket purchased at the time of her initial courtship comes back a winner. "Greed" is director Erich von Stroheim's passion project, an over 10 hour work from the 1902 novel McTeague by Frank Norris. After the film was (understandably) cut to about a fifth of its run time, much to the heartbreak of von Stroheim, the extracted footage was mostly lost. Now, in a restored version, we have the original two and a half hour release supplemented by stills and title cards explaining the gaps and leaving the film at a 4 plus hour running length. While the new additions are largely unnecessary, "Greed" remains a powerful and harrowing treatise on avarice. It features powerful central performances from Gibson Gowland and Zasu Pitts who offer scary character transformations as rapacity almost immediately dominates there lives. The concluding Death Valley showdown is one of the most stark and alarming sequences of any ending ever film. "Greed" is a powerful, dark, and incomplete masterpiece.