Director: Erich von Stroheim
Year Released: 1925
I have a hard time twisting my mind around the idea that von Stroheim's original cut of Greed, running around nine hours long, is the "Holy Grail" of cinema, since the 1998 reconstruction of the film - using the original screenplay and stills from film archives - is pretty laborious to sit through. There are barely enough interesting moments to maintain interest in the rather simple characters - a dentist, his money-mad wife and an old friend who "set" them up. Abel Gance's Napoleon actually warranted the hefty running time since it was covering a giant chunk of history and the effect of one man on it; The Treasure of the Sierra Madre and The Maltese Falcon carry the same message as Greed and are much less frustrating (to quote Kenneth Anger, "[von Stroheim's] movie-making method was to expose miles of film, improvising as he went along, with uninhibited attention paid to every sexual kink"). Now if they should ever - by a miracle - find the missing pieces of Welles' great The Magnificent Ambersons and piece that back together, I'll clear out an entire day.