Greed

Greed

A FILM BY: Erich von Stroheim
WRITTEN BY: June Mathis (screenplay), Erich von Stroheim (screenplay), Frank Norris (novel)
STARRING: Zasu Pitts, Gibson Gowland, Jean Hersholt

Live Musical Accompaniment by House Organist Dennis Scott | Presented by Chicago Film Society 

Erich von Stroheim was perhaps the least likely star of the silent era, an Austrian émigré who profitably channeled America’s voracious wartime hostility towards the Germans into a peculiar anti-matinee idol status, turning rank villainy and unbridled sexual license into calling cards. When he turned to directing, he intertwined melodrama and perversity, profligacy and purple prose. Greed, Stroheim’s ill-fated adaptation of Frank Norris’s Naturalist novel McTeague, began production under the Goldwyn Pictures banner, but wound up released by the newly amalgamated Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. A freethinker whose contract had been acquired by Hollywood’s most rigidly top-down studio, Stroheim described the resulting film as “the skeleton of my dead child.” Yet even this front-office-mandated version of Greed remains a forthrightly ghoulish film, a vision of marital hell so vivid that it could keep even the most besotted couple from approaching the altar. Stroheim’s depiction of the unholy union of amateur dentist Mac (Gibson Gowland) and spendthrift Trina (Zasu Pitts) becomes such a harrowing and emotionally direct experience that one of the film’s most famous intertitles—“Let’s go over and sit on the sewer”—reads as almost romantic in context! Topped by spectacular sun-dried cinematography and propelled by a sense of preordained tragedy, Greed is like nothing else in the movies. Once reflexively cited as one of the medium’s masterpieces, Greed has been ill-served by the canon of late capitalism. It still circulates for home viewing in transfers prepared during the VHS era, but luckily remains available in 35mm for discerning sewer cinephiles. 35mm Print Courtesy of Warner Bros

Preceded by: "A Corner in Wheat" (D.W. Griffith, 1909) - 14 min - 16mm

Technical Information

Production Year: 1924
Country of Origin: United States
Language: English
Run Time: 112 mins
Format: 35mm