Greed (1924)

Brilliant. Really.
Had it not been destroyed by the studio and the self destructive mad genius of von Stroheim, it would probably be the greatest movie ever filmed.

As it stands, though, it is still one of the greatest films ever produced.

von Stroheim’s leering, fluid camera and his sense of cynical bitterness in his staging and composition is awesome to behold. The colors are an interesting addition. Was that handschiegel for the coins and the birds?

Much better than the banal fare it later inspired, like The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre. Obvious precursors to Norma Desmond, too.

Oh, I am * very, very* interested to hear Eve’s analysis. (Do you feel better now?;))

Well, yuh, but . . . I really don’t have much of an opinion except “I liked it, but it’s still too long.”

How’s about Intolerance, or Broken Blossoms, or A Fool There Was, or The Perils of Pauline?

I loved that movie. I saw a presentation of it on TCM which included stills from the parts that had ended up on the cutting room floor. It was so well done that it would take me several seconds to realize that I was looking at a still instead of regular motion picture footage.

I’ve also read McTeague several times. It does drag in places, and Frank Norris, having once established that the German given name August is pronounced “Owgoost”, insists on spelling it that way for the remainder of the book. Still, it’s a great favorite of mine. His brother Charles Norris also was a writer. For a novel somewhat similar in style, though with a more upbeat ending, check out his Salt, or The Education of Griffith Adams.

I’ve been hankering to watch Greed again since it came up in that other thread not too long ago. It really is too dimly-remembered for me to make any intelligent comment on it, but… (Hijack warning!)

Ilsa, have you seen von Stroheim’s Queen Kelly (what there is of it, anyway,) yet? It really is essential for a full appreciation of Sunset Boulevard, and, leaving that aside, I think it was on its way to being the hands-down best thing that the man ever did, before the studio pulled the plug on it.

Billy Wilder used the plot of Queen Kelly as a template for Sunset Boulevard, and Gloria Swanson played the part of the Young Interloper/True Love in the original. It’s a treat to see the over-the-top sensualism & decadence that finally brought the hammer down on old Eric. The bit where the Queen’s kept man pockets a schoolgirl’s (YI/TL’s, of course) accidentally dropped panties (after making a show of inhaling their scent,) ranks as a favourite. Unfortunately, the best you can hope for is a copy that tries to give you the gist of the intended ending by stringing a few stills and explanatory notes together. Still, it’s something you must seek out, if you haven’t already.

There can be too much of a good thing. I think the reason this film isn’t in my top ten is that it’s so numbingly long. It wears out its welcome, for me, at about the two hour mark. I have only ever been able to watch it as a miniseries, as it were. And I’m not agains long movies on principal, but if you can feel your butt cheeks going to sleep, the movies too long.

What is the world coming too??!?!?!?

lissener and Eve are complaining because a movie is too long?

I didn’t mind the length. I’d love to see the 42 reel version in two or three showings, and I’ll probably buy the four hour version. Wait, are y’all complaining about the 130 minute version or the 240? I only received the 130 minute version.

As for Intolerance, I have the restored tape on my shelf here. Is The Birth Of A Nation a prerequisite? If not, I’ll watch it this weekend. I have BoaN on DVD, but I only have so much time.

Haven’t seen Queen Kelly. I’ll probably get it on Kino when I get the money.

Ah, I forgot to add that I was wrestling with whether or not to add this to my top ten or not. I dropped The Phantom Of The Opera for The Crowd. I don’t know what to drop to add Greed.

BoaN, like Triumph of the Will, is visually breathtaking and historically significant, but nearly unwatchable. It promulgates the most jawdroppingly horrific racism I have ever come across, and I’ve never been able to sit all the way through it. In case you’re unfamiliar, BoaN purports to show us the history of the Ku Klux Klan, which it does in an unabashedly celebratory, even worshipful, manner. The purpose of its plot is to show us how bestial and stupid freed slaves were, and how the KKK came along at just the right time to aid a nation in crisis.

Griffith is, without question, one of the single most important “inventors” of cinema as a medium, and BoaN is an extremely impressive catalog of the first use of many cinematic techniques that became–and remain–standard techniques. And few people this side of David Lean or Peter Jackson have ever equalled Griffith’s awesome sense of epic scale. But still.

Ok. I am having enough of a hard time sitting through Olympia Part II: Fest Der Volker. I’ll watch Intolerance this weekend.

Constance Talmadge and Mae Marsh give two of the best performances ever in that film.