A few years ago I watched the hallowed classic Greed (1924) for the very first time. It was the shortest version, a fuzzy YouTube copy that probably makes Eric von Stroheim spin in his grave every time a viewer clicks on it (spinning while being immaculately dressed in his white Prussian uniform, mind you). And like any cinephile who makes an honest effort to appreciate film history…I liked it. It involved unusual characters. Its plot has interesting twists. It was obviously well-made. It was insanely dark. All in all, I was glad I watched it. I decided to put it on my “future re-watch” list, intending to study its skillfulness a little more at some point.
Now let’s fast-forward a bit to two summers ago. I was in North Carolina visiting friends, and one afternoon we decided to visit a used bookstore (they’re fellow bookworms). I was scanning some of the fiction shelves (okay, after first scrutinizing the few early Hollywood books they had with great concentration) and a familiar word caught my eye: McTeague. Ah! That was the novel that inspired Greed, wasn’t it? It even had a still from the film as its cover art. I almost put it back on the shelf, but it occurred to me that it would be a useful addition to a silentcinephile’s library. And I bought it. Continue reading