Magazine article American Cinematographer

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Magazine article American Cinematographer

Wrap Shot

Article excerpt

There's not a glamour girl anywhere in sight in Greed, the picture that launched a thousand myths. The facts are almost as strange as the fiction. Erich von Stroheim was commissioned by Samuel Goldwyn to produce a movie version of Frank Morris' novel McTeague, a downbeat story about San Francisco's working poor. During 1924, von Stroheim spent nine months on location in San Francisco and Death Valley while making his epic, which he envisioned as a series of continuing features.

Along the way, however, Goldwyn sold his share of MetroGoldwyn Pictures, and the new regime was horrified by the mammoth undertaking, which von Stroheim had edited to 42 reels. He then cut McTeaguelo 24 reels and refused to remove another frame. Rex Ingram, as a favor, cut it to 18 reels and then gave up. June Mathis carved it down to 10 reels, after which Joseph Farnham performed the final edit. The 10-reel version was released as Greed.

This photo, borrowed from the collection of film historian Robert Birchard, is especially rare because it was taken during the filming of a major subplot that vanished in toto when the film was being chopped down. Shown at left is Cesare Gravina, the 5'-tall light-opera star from Napoli, in character as the crazed junk dealer Zerkow. …

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