Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Greed (1924)

*****
USA

Famously, the original cut of Erich von Stroheim's adaptation of Frank Norris' novel McTeague ran roughly eight hours, though the surviving 140-minute version bears none of the choppiness that haunts the majority of raped masterpieces. Within the context of the floss routinely churned out by Hollywood during this period, the bite and cynicism of von Stroheim's film is quite shocking. To this day few studio filmmakers have demonstrated a gift akin to Von Stroheim's feel for the morbid dreariness and insignificance that can overwhelm such ostensibly weighty events as the beginnings of the McTeagues' courtship (by the sewer) and their wedding ceremony (with a funeral procession passing before the window). And McTeague' ultimate demise in Death Valley comes at the end of what is still the most searing and demistifying of all final showdowns.

dir: Erich von Stroheim
wr: Erich von Stroheim, June Mathis
ph: William H. Daniels, Ben F. Reynolds, Ernest B. Schoedstack
cast: Gibson Gowland, ZaSu Pitts, Jean Hersholt, Chester Conklin, Sylvia Ashton, Oscar Gottell, Otto Gottell, Frank Hayes, Jack Curtis

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