Greed (1924) Poster


Alternate Versions

Version 5, 16 reels (4,800 meters), edited by June Mathis - According to Jean Mitry who saw it in Paris ("Le romantisme de Stroheim", article in L'Avant-Scène du Cinéma, no. 83-84, July 1968), this version had exactly 4 hours running time. It cut off all derivative stories about supporting characters, concentrating the story on the character McTeague, and adding a number of inter-titles to explain what happened in the deleted scenes. This version was shown in the theatre Studio des Ursulines, Paris, and then the French distributor cut it to a 2 hour film. Cinémathèque Française has a copy of the Mathis' cut - but versions 1 to 4 of the film are considered lost films (1999).
Version 4, 18 reels (circa 5,400 meters), edited by Rex Ingram - This version with a running time of 3 h 56 m at 20 fps was not approved, either, and it was almost unknown to film historians due to the in-fighting at MGM between Ingram and Meyer.
Version 6, 10 reels (circa 3,000 meters), edited by Joseph Farnham acting on orders from Irving Thalberg, regardless of the "McTeague" novel or the script. This final version was released by MGM with a runtime of 2 h 15 m.
Version 1, 42 reels (circa 12,00 meters), edited by Erich von Stroheim - The original version ran for 9 h 11m at 20 fps. The Prologue scenes had gold tinting added for gold, brass beds, gold teeth, gilt frames, and the canary cage, reinforcing the idea of gold greed. It was only shown on 12 January 1924 at the MGM studios for a small group of reporters. One wrote a glowing review of it, using words like "wonderful" and "brilliant", but lamented the fact that nobody else would ever see it. No copies were made, and all the footage that did not make the release version were destroyed along with all of the out-takes, so that the silver could be extracted from the film celluloid. This is one of the top ten "lost films" of the American Film Institute.
Version 2, 36 reels (circa 10,800 meters), edited by Joseph Farnham - This version ran for 7 h 52m at 20 fps. It displeased the Producers, who demanded further cuts in order to exploit the film in a single session.
A new TV version, jointly released by Thames Television / Turner Entertainment, features a new score by Carl Davis.
Version 7, a 239 minute cut, is the restored version (Turner Entertainment, 1999) by Rick Schmidlin using the existing footage and still photographs of the deleted scenes (done a la recent restorations of A Star Is Born (1954) and Lost Horizon (1937)). This was produced according to an original and detailed continuity outline by director Erich von Stroheim to bring it as close to the Director's Cut as possible. This version also contains a stereo score by Robert Israel.
Version 3, 24 reels (circa 7,200 meters), edited by Erich von Stroheim - This version is considered the "Director's cut", running at 5 h 15m at 20 fps. The director aimed at convincing the Producers to exploit the film as a two-part film (in two sessions), but they refused, forbade the director to touch the film again, and called for further cuts.

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