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Greed: Avaricia

Zasu Pitts , Gibson Gowland , Erich Von Stroheim    DVD
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
Price: £13.85 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Product details

  • Actors: Zasu Pitts, Gibson Gowland, Jean Hershol
  • Directors: Erich Von Stroheim
  • Format: ES Import
  • Subtitles: Spanish
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Run Time: 140 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00812T29E
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 77,298 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Reviews

Spanish release. 100% as pictured and advertised imported DVD. Silent movie with optional Spanish subtitles. Cover contains foreign writings.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bleak, inescapable capitalist unhappiness. 13 Mar 2011
By S. Hyde
Format:VHS Tape
I'm surprised that there are no reviews yet for this film. Maybe it's due to its absence on DVD (as of 2011). Why this masterpiece is still neglected is beyond me. It is one of the great achievements of silent cinema.

Based on the novel by McTeague by Frank Norris, the story follows a dentist whose wife wins the lottery only to become obsessed with the money. The money acts like an infectious disease that destroys all the lives involved, it brings out the worst in people. Filmed in San Francisco and Death valley, and at great expense, the film was famously chopped down from 10 hours to the the 2 hours that remain, perhaps justifiably, but what remains is astounding.

If you've never seen any of Stroheim's films, they are highly detailed, complex and tightly structured. They also have a very naturalistic look to them with scenes of beautiful natural light. His camera is distant but unrelentingly observant, trapping characters in the frame as it slowly exposes their disturbed minds. For Stoheim, the American Dream doesnt liberate people but is a trap where people become victims. The acuisiion of things and money warps their minds and their relationships with each other.
And what is interesting is how Greed is against the grain of the American romantic film. These characters are so dirty, vicious, insane, lustful, pathalogical almost. And yet its shown with such restraint, no melodrama just a very controlled drama.

Several scenes stay with me - the marriage shown in front of a funeral procession; Trina lying naked in bed full of money; the final scene in death valley. If you like Sunrise (Murnau), The Wind (Sjostrom) and The Passion of Joan of Arc (Dreyer) then you will love this film.
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5.0 out of 5 stars wonderful film 20 Jun 2014
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Everyone should own a copy of this film so they understand just how great cinema could have been if not controlled by a studio system which savaged the talent of great men like von Stroheim.
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Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  36 reviews
59 of 62 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stroheim's Slaughtered Masterpiece 1 Sep 2004
By Polkadotty - Published on Amazon.com
Erich von Stroheim (the aristocratic 'von' tacked on by Stroheim himself) was a demanding director with a passion for perfection and an unforgiving eye for detail. His scripts typically included precise notes for camera angles and intricate descriptions of even the most minute of actions. Stroheim's persona reflected his attention to appearance and detail. He favored close military haircuts, precise military manners, a stiff Viennese accent, and affected for himself a privileged background. In truth, his father, a Prussian Silesian, was listed on Stroheim's birth certificate as a maker and seller of hats, and his mother, of Czech origin born in Prague, was neither a lady-in-waiting to the Empress nor a baroness as Stroheim preferred to pretend she was.

Aristocratic or not, von Stroheim favored BIG pictures and spent BIG producing them. He worked very hard at them too, invariably toiling late into the night to ascertain every of his exactly-plotted details came off perfectly. All told, Stroheim's output numbered just nine films, all but the last silent, and he served as a director for a rather brief span of time ~ between 1919 and 1932 ~ before returning to Europe to resume an acting career (monocle-wearing Nazis and other heavies). Of Stroheim's films, one was never released, two were finished by others, one was stopped during production and released incomplete, two were taken from him during post-production and slaughtered (von Stroheim referred to the released version of GREED as 'the skeleton of my dead child'), two others received rather more minor cuts ordered by the studio, and one was released intact.

GREED was von Stroheim's tour-de-force. It's said that he was so enamored of the book McTEAGUE by Frank Norris (of the American naturalist-realist school) he became determined to film every last word of it, including commas and periods. Certainly he went way overboard in budget, shooting forty-seven reels ~ more than 8 hours of viewing time ~ in the making of it. However, the forty-seven reels were never intended to be seen by a paying audience; these were pre-director's cuts.

When the shooting was completed in December 1923, Stroheim invited a hand-picked few to a private showing of forty-five reels of his masterpiece ~ a showing that lasted from 10:30 in the morning until 8:00 that night. Stroheim then presented to the Goldwyn Company 42 reels of his work, and was promptly requested to cut it to a more reasonable length, wherein he obliged by further reducing it to 24 reels. Still too long, so with the help of his friend Rex Ingram, Stroheim produced an 18-reel version he planned to release in two parts, 18 reels being the minimum length in which he felt justice for McTEAGUE could be done. The studio, unconvinced, turned the material over to June Mathis, story editor at Goldwyn, who trimmed Stroheim's final cut of 24 reels to 10 reels and gave it the title GREED. In December 1924, following the merger, MGM released the Mathis version. None too pleased, Stroheim argued for months with producer Irving Thalberg and MGM head Louis B. Mayer about the removed footage, raging '[June Mathis] had read neither the book nor my script, yet was ordered to cut it'.

In his quest for ultra-realism in GREED, Stroheim bought out entire blocks of property in downslidden neighborhoods, forcing his actors to live on these blocks so that they might gain insight into such a lifestyle. Stroheim insisted on filming a murder scene in GREED at a place where a murder actually occurred (and who watching the scene would know this unless it was pointed out?) The climactic final scenes were shot in Death Valley during the hottest part of the summer of 1923, forcing more than a few crew members into outright mutiny, and almost destroying the equipment in the process (in order to function the cameras had to be wrapped in icewater-soaked cloths). Wildly outrageous stories circulated about von Stroheim, including that he once insisted on waiting for chimney smoke to blow in a certain direction before continuing with a scene (untrue). However, this brand of fanaticism earned him the title 'The Man You Love To Hate'.

Despite the massive cuts, GREED remains a HUGE story. Powerful, startlingly honest, brutal, unrelentingly bleak, tragic ~ the characters in this story are rawboned and real. McTeague (Gibson Gowland) is a man ruled by his passions, his wife Trina (Zasu Pitts) is driven frighteningly insane through her obsession with money, McTeague's friend Marcus (Jean Hersholt) is a miserable scheming villain. In the 'reconstructed' version we are introduced to a Mexican housekeeper Maria (Dale Fuller), whose cherished childhood dream ultimately costs her life, and a greedy junk dealer (Cesare Gravina), and a subplot involving a quietly amorous older couple. GREED retains several searing scenes of violence and depravity, and builds to an unforgettable climax. Several websites are devoted to discussions of the plot and subplots and symbolisms within GREED ~ the pre-cut complete version, the Brownlow version, and the 75th anniversary 'reconstructed' version; a simple search should get you started. It's fascinating information, well worth the effort of anyone interested in the history of this legendary film.

From forty-seven reels down to 10 ... and still for sheer size and scope, no silent film rivals GREED. You might well ask, what happened to all that sliced stock? According to Stroheim, the film was melted down for its silver content. Although ~ and who can fault them? ~ several film enthusiasts and experts still hold out hope for the discovery of yet a few more reels of what remains 'The Holy Grail' of lost film footage.
29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars MASTERWORK 13 Dec 2001
By Gary F. Taylor - Published on Amazon.com
If you watch only one silent film in your lifetime, it should probably be Erich von Stoheim's GREED, a film--even in truncated form--of such artistry and power that it will forever wipe away any thought you may have of silent film being a "lesser" art form.
The story line is serious, following the lives of a San Franciso dentist, his wife, and his friend over the course of several years. Although rather dim and socially inept, all three are reasonably good natured--until the dentist's wife's lottery winnings sparks a gradual competition for the money between all three, a competition that will ultimately have lethal results. Played with tremendous restrait with Zasu Pitts a particular standout, director von Stroheim's powerful vision horrified most critics and audiences when first released--and it continues to shock even to this day.
The running time varies depending on the particular cut, but most versions run well over two hours. A must-see, must-own for any serious student or admirer of cinema arts, a film to which you will return again and again.
30 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Greatest of Them All! 22 Oct 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
I would give this unrivaled masterpiece ten stars if possible. What's really maddening is that every year when would-be and never-was movie historians put together their hysterical list of "100 Greatest Movies of All Time", it's always "Citizen Kane" at the very top. Which goes to show how illiterate these critics are. It was "Greed", "Intolerance" and Cecil DeMille's underated "The Cheat" (1915), which really paved the way for Orson Welles. "Greed" is an amazing experience to sit through. I've seen it 50 times (the beautifully restored version put together by Thames and Turner Entertainment" should win awards about the restoration of an ancient movie)and each time you're left stunned. The acting, the masterful sets and camera angles alone should be this at the very top of the "Greatest 10 or 100 movies of all time". In the video version at least, the wonderful musical score enhances this movie a l00 fold. Bravo to von Stroheim, a forgotten genius who should be studied religiously and his movies looked upon as landmark film making.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A response 25 July 2004
By A. Tohline - Published on Amazon.com
I've never directly responded to another review before, but it must be done in this case.

Ixta Coyotl is just wrong. (S)he obviously knows a great deal about the history of film but almost nothing about great art. (S)he finds it impossible to appreciate many of the finer facets of film history, and leads people astray with obscure references in order to insult the deserving classics.

Take a look at her/his other reviews. (S)he gives Frida five stars because of the lesbian scenes. Forget that it had almost nothing else to offer as a film. (S)he gives Buster Keaton's timeless masterpiece The General only two stars and meanwhile bashes his and Chaplin's entire catalogs. Amazing! Citizen Kane and Lawrence of Arabia may escape with fair reviews, but along the way obscure drivel is canonized and masterpieces like La Strada and La Regle du Jeu face the firing squad.

Greed is much better than most people give it credit for. Don't use your fast-forward button. Let this film develop, slowly and deliberately, and let it unfold to you a story with amazing symbolism, fascinating depth, and one of the greatest endings of all time.

Von Stroheim was altogether justified in feeling that his film had been butchered. If the original cut of this film had been released to the public, it may have changed the way we watch movies, elevating them from thin, plotless, uninteresting star vehicles, to deep, probing, and time-independent portraits of the complexities of human nature. Well, maybe. Given the attention span in the roaring twenties and in this new millennium, I'm probably wrong about that.

No matter. This restoration is brilliant, and, unfortunately, sold out. Rick Schmidlin's fantastic work (along with Robert Israel's surprisingly good score) deserves DVD release.

That's right. This film needs to be released on DVD as soon as possible; an out-of-stock tape copy obviously doesn't suffice. So, what's the hold-up? I don't know. Given that some people here think this is the greatest film of all time (a tenable position, might I add), it only makes sense that some publishing company should immediately release this restored print on DVD.

I know they have at least one guaranteed customer.
18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Destroyed---Or Rescued? 26 Aug 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
The history of "Greed" abounds in confusions and misconceptions. Contrary to legend, Von Stroheim's 42-reel (10-hour) version of the film was never more than a rough cut; he realized that a film of such length could never be released, and he himself cut the film in half, to 24 reels. When the studio demanded further excisions, Von Stroheim gave the film to a director friend, Rex Ingram, whose own editor cut it to 18. Finally, still dissatisfied, the studio took the film away from all involved and cut it to its final form, 10 reels. This complicated history makes judging "Greed" very difficult, since---again, contrary to what many think---Stroheim never brought (or was never allowed to bring) the film to his own final preferred length. In other words, there was never what could properly be called a "director's cut."
We can get some inkling, however, of what the film was to have been through reading the shooting script, which was published by Faber & Faber back in the 1970s. It would have been an extremely ambitious film, with several concurrent plot lines (most of which have vanished in the version we have now) and a radically innovative narrative structure in which there would have been many full reels with virtually no "action," instead concentrating on background and scene-setting (imitating, perhaps to a fault, the Norris novel). It would certainly have been a grueling film to sit through, and reading the script one cannot help but wonder how many brave souls would actually have made it to the end. Even in its two-hour form, "Greed" exhausts many viewers. But the full version may well have been some kind of masterpiece.
But what we do have is the two-hour version, and it is most certainly a masterpiece: one of the finest and most important films ever made, in fact. In this streamlined version, the story of the downfall of McTeague and his wife Trina takes on an almost unbearable intensity. There is no comic relief (or virtually none), no cutting away to other stories. It is a mercilessly dark film, superbly acted (especially by Zasu Pitts as Trina), gruesomely fascinating. And, like all great art, the application is virtually universal: poverty does this to people, we realize, and so does sudden wealth. The scenario would not play out like this for every individual, obviously, but there is something terribly believable in this film and relevant to all cultures, all times. I myself was once married to an African woman and I showed this film to her; she "got" it perfectly, nodding to herself as she watched and telling me of people she knew of in her native country who were "like that."
So, did MGM "ruin" this film? Considering that it routinely places in the all-time Top 10 in critics' polls, this is a difficult argument to make. The fact is, the film that MGM released is one of the greatest classics of world cinema. (In fact, it is astonishing how few narrative gaps or confusions there are in the released print---yes, there are some, but overall the final editors' ability to cut the footage together into a coherent and fully integrated whole is amazing.) It could be argued, in fact, that MGM's "crime" (artistic crime, anyway) was not in the cutting---which Von Stroheim should have seen as absolutely inevitable---but rather in not at least keeping one of the longer versions, preferably the 10 hour, in their vaults. Even if a film of such length was commercially impossible, MGM owed it to the future of film to keep the original version in existence. But then it is easy to write that now; in 1926, few had any notion of the movies as a lasting art.
In any event, anyone seriously interested in film simply must see "Greed." 75 years later it remains as powerful and true a film as any ever made.
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