Dir: Erich von Stroheim | Scr: June Mathis & Erich von Stroheim | Novel: Frank Norris | Ph: Wm. H. Daniels & Ben F. Reynolds | Mus: Robert Israel (1999) | Ed: Jos. W. Farnham & Glenn Morgan (1999) | Cast: Zasu Pitts, Gibson Gowland, Jean Hersholt, Dale Fuller, Tempe Pigott, Sylvia Ashton, Chester Conklin, Joan Standing
When an unlicensed dentist informs his best pal that he has fallen for his girl, said friend takes the news with remarkable good humour, and steps aside to allow love’s young dream to flourish. However, when she wins $5,000 on the lottery, he quickly changes his tune, and becomes filled with anger, envy, and regret. The money also begins to change her, as she becomes ever more miserly by the day. Before long, as they become eaten up by their baser emotions, the three of their lives begin to fall apart quite spectacularly, in von Stroheim’s studio-mutilated opus. This four hour version uses production stills to fill in the blanks left by the six hours of excised footage, but often fails to flow as a result. The two hour version, though having a much better flow, is no improvement as it contains a number of gaps in logic. Never the less, Gowland’s central performance proves mesmeric and von Stroheim’s direction impressive, keeping the film diverting throughout.