December 29, 2005

Erich von Stroheim - GREED (1924)

Erich von Stroheim`s masterpiece and one of the best silent films ever made, Greed remains a powerful indictment against the deadly sin of the title.
Based on Frank Norris's McTeague, Greed revolves around the misdeeds of a California dentist, his miserly wife, and her former lover, all of whom sacrifice their selves to the all-powerful Money God.

Despite his domineering screen presence, Gibson Gowland (center) never became a star, but Jean Hersholt (not in the picture) was a star character actor and to this date has his name attached to the humanitarian award given out by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

ZaSu Pitts (left) is superb as the frail wife who goes totally bonkers after she wins the lottery. (Talk about a cautionary tale. . .)

Von Stroheim's first cut of Greed lasted all of 47 reels, though eventually the picture was pared down to 10 reels (approximately 2h15m). That is all that is known to survive from the original film.
But in spite of the drastic cuts, many of von Stroheim's magnificently perverted excesses are very much in evidence in this unforgettable journey into inner hell.


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