During the First World War, two French soldiers are captured and imprisoned in a German P.O.W. camp. Several escape attempts follow until they are sent to a seemingly impenetrable fortress which seems impossible to escape from.
John McTeague was a simple slow man who became a dentist after working at the Big Dipper Gold Mine. He is now being hunted in Death Valley by his ex-best friend Marcus and the law. His lot was cast the day that he meet his future wife Trina in his office. She was with Marcus and she bought a lottery ticket. Well Mac fell for her and Marcus stepped aside. When Mac and Trina married, she won the Lottery for $5000 and became obsessive about the money in gold. Marcus is steamed as he stepped aside and now she is rich so he has the law shut down Mac as he has no official schooling for his dentistry. Trina fearful that they will take her gold away sells everything and takes all Mac earns when he is working. She adds to her stash of gold as they both live as paupers. When Mac has no job and no money, he leaves and Trina moves. Driven to desperation at being poor and hungry he finds Trina and demands the gold. Written by
Tony Fontana <email@example.com>
After Marcus breaks McTeague's pipe and throws a knife at him, men pull McTeague's tie off as they hold him back. The tie is back in place a moment later as McTeague rushes out of the saloon. See more »
[McTeague sent her to the butcher with $1.00 to get some meat, turning up her nose at the prices]
Got anything cheaper?
[picks up a bucket]
Three days old.
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There was a time, and it was only a few years ago, when I found it difficult to sit through a silent film. The exaggerated movements and facial expressions and the over-bearing music, I believe, turned me off.
However, that changed drastically when I watched von Stroheim's Greed for the first time. The film, simply put, is immaculate. The portrayal of McTeague and Trina is fantastic. Pitts and Gowland, without using their voices mind you, create depth and allow the audience to sympathize with the characters. Silence often acted as a barrier between myself and the characters; here, that distance is bridged by the two actors and, I must assume, von Stroheim's masterful direction.
Yes, the direction is masterful. I believe describing it as such is entirely accurate. Innovative may go too far, but masterful just about covers it. The realism (which shooting on locations benefited) is something to behold. This is a story that Hollywood would balk at depicting in 2004; imagine the row that was had in 1924. Von Stroheim never backs away from his unrelentingly grim vision, reinforcing his theme (money is evil) throughout. And then there is the Death Valley sequence - one of the most marvelous series of scenes committed to celluloid.
All in all, this is truly a fantastic film - one that has aged, due to its ability to treat grim subject matter as it should, much better than many of its contemporaries. Also, it should be noted, that this represents a fine adaptation of Norris' novel McTeague. I was a fan of the novel before I saw the film and the film does not disappoint.
Von Stroheim ensured that the spirit, if not the word, of the novel was maintained.
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