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von Stroheim's Greed--What's the Story?

Old 11-16-07, 07:41 PM
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von Stroheim's Greed--What's the Story?

Does anyone know what the deal is with a DVD release of this film? I did a search, but I didn't find a thread that did anything more than list this film as one that had not yet been released.
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Old 11-16-07, 08:21 PM
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There's no scheduled release. But in doing a search, Turner Classic Movies has shown a four hour version in the last year or so. It must be something that they have an interest in, because the previously released VHS version is the shorter, two hour version that was released to silent theaters. It also was released on laser disc, but I'm not sure of the run time on that one. There's a place you can vote to request a DVD release of the film on the Turner site, and since they did commission a TV showing of a longer version of the film, maybe they also would have something to do with a DVD issue. The page for "Greed," including the voting button, is here:

http://www.tcmdb.com/title/title.jsp...egory=overview

You can also request a DVD release though Amazon.

Last edited by Breton; 11-16-07 at 08:24 PM.
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Old 11-16-07, 09:56 PM
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Isn't this on the rumored list for WB in 2008?
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Old 11-16-07, 10:45 PM
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Originally Posted by NoirFan
Isn't this on the rumored list for WB in 2008?
If so, it'll be good to have this released finally in some form even if we'll never be able to see it as Stroheim intended. I hope the eventual release will include an extensive discussion of the wrongs done to Stroheim by the Hollywood studios. To my mind, no director's legacy, not even that of Orson Welles, has been more damaged by the Hollywood studios than that of Stroheim.

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Old 11-16-07, 10:45 PM
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Yup, its rumored for a release next year. Maybe it'll be 2008's The Jazz Singer
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Old 11-17-07, 12:45 PM
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Well, I voted for it on both sites.

I see there was a 75th Anniversary version, but it looks like it was only released to VHS, and is now OOP. Is this the version that was on TCM?

One of my colleagues taped the TCM version. Looks like the missing parts have been replaced with stills.

I found one copy of the LD version on eBay, but I'm not sure when it was produced. I'm assuming well before the 75th Anniversary edition, since LDs were being phased out when the restoration hit the market.

Is this film in the public domain? Could we expect Kino or someone to release a copy at some point?
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Old 11-17-07, 12:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Ron G
Is this film in the public domain? Could we expect Kino or someone to release a copy at some point?
No, it's still owned by Warner, and they have a pretty crappy record when it comes to releasing the silents in their collection -- a source of constant irritation to me. Unless you count the recent release of The Jazz Singer, they haven't released any silents at all since the Garbo boxset, I believe. And they're sitting on a veritable gold-mine of silent titles beyond Greed.

The rumors of a 2008 release are just that -- rumors. There have been rumors for at least two years now. During each HTF chat, somebody invariably mentions the silents, and the Warners folks invariably say something about them being under consideration in the near future.

I'll believe it when I see an official announcemnt.
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Old 11-17-07, 02:29 PM
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The VHS version is 133 minutes, according to Amazon. I saw that version on a PBS station a long time ago. I don't remember it that well, but it was interesting to see. The TCM version is four hours, and that cable network was behind putting it together. If stills are featured to pad it out,then it's likely that most of the other 6 hours of reels are also lost.
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Old 11-17-07, 02:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Breton
The VHS version is 133 minutes, according to Amazon. I saw that version on a PBS station a long time ago. I don't remember it that well, but it was interesting to see. The TCM version is four hours, and that cable network was behind putting it together. If stills are featured to pad it out,then it's likely that most of the other 6 hours of reels are also lost.
That's my understanding. One of my colleagues regularly teaches McTeague, so he uses Greed quite often. He said that the reason for the use of stills is that the film reels no longer exist.

So were WB to release this, will they release the 133 minute version or the version that aired on TCM?
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Old 11-17-07, 03:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Breton
If stills are featured to pad it out,then it's likely that most of the other 6 hours of reels are also lost.
Not lost. Purposely destroyed. According to Jonathan Rosenbaum, author of Greed (BFI Film Classics), "of the 446 reels shot for Greed, yielding a rough cut lasting eight or nine hours, all but 140 minutes were destroyed by MGM."
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Old 11-17-07, 05:02 PM
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The original version was 42 reels, and ran for 9 hours at 20 fps. Von Stroheim then shortened it to 24 reels (just over 5 hours - the "Director's Version"). It was then cut again, not once, but twice. The first time by Rex Ingram, who cut the film down to 18 reels, and forbade Stroheim to let anyone cut it again. The final cut was performed by MGM editing department's Joseph Farnham acting on orders from Irving Thalberg, who without having read the book ("McTeague") or the script, cut the film down to 10 reels. This final version was released with a runtime of 2-1/4 hours. No copies of the earlier versions were made, and the entirety of the 32 reels that did not make the final release version were destroyed - along with all of the outtakes - so that the silver could be extracted from the film celluloid. It is in this way, that most of the movie was lost forever.
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0015881/trivia

Such a shame.
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Old 11-17-07, 07:57 PM
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Since TCM is owned by Warners, I can't see why they would commission an expensive, even incomplete, four hour restoration without future plans for it. A page on digitalbits.com from March of this year says that it was mentioned in a chat with a Warners executive, and the exec said a DVD was being considered for release in 07/08. It's obviously too late for this year, but maybe next (but as pointed out, they've promised a release for years). It would include both the shorter VHS and the four hour TCM versions.

There are a couple of clips about the making of the movie on YouTube. One is from a silent film documentary series that was shown on my local PBS station in the early '90s. That series is what got me interested in the movie to begin with. Parts of "Greed" were filmed in Death Valley in August in 125 degree weather, mainly to get footage of rising heat waves in the background. One crew member died, several got sick, and they ran out of water. The legend of this movie is probably why Erich Von Stroheim was cast in "Sunset Blvd." I'm sure they could compile a good making-of documentary for a DVD package.
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Old 11-17-07, 08:45 PM
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If anyone can do it right, Warner can. This was on the original Warner dvd ballot, but missed the boat. I have a dvd-r of the tcm version, but no doubt they will outdo themselves when they get to it
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