[[caption-width-right:350:It's called Death Valley for a reason.]]

A 1924 silent psychological drama film directed by Creator/ErichVonStroheim, based on the novel ''Literature/McTeague'' by Frank Norris. John [=McTeague=] (Gibson Gowland) is a miner in the California gold country. A visiting dentist inspires him to try something new, and the dentist takes him on as an apprentice. [=McTeague=] eventually settles down as a dentist in San Francisco. His friend Marcus (Jean Hersholt) brings his girlfriend Trina (Zasu Pitts) to [=McTeague=] as a patient. Marcus nobly steps aside when [=McTeague=] falls in love with Trina. [=McTeague=] and Trina are married.

In the meantime, Trina has bought a lottery ticket. Said ticket hits for five thousand dollars. Marcus becomes bitter at missing out on the money and has a falling out with [=McTeague=]. Trina for her part zealously guards the $5000, refusing to spend a dime. She still won't spend any of it after Marcus rats out [=McTeague=] for practicing dentistry without a license, leaving the couple destitute. The [=McTeagues=]' formerly intimate marriage dissolves in hatred. Eventually [=McTeague=] murders Trina and takes off with the $5000, fleeing to Death Valley, but Marcus is determined to track him down.

''Greed'' is remembered as much for what it isn't as for what it is. Von Stroheim's original cut was '''forty-two reels''', or nearly eight hours. It is often considered the most "literal" film adaptation of a novel ever (the run-time is only two hours shy of that of the unabridged audiobook of the novel). Von Stroheim tried to talk the producers into showing the film in multiple parts, but eventually turned in a four-hour cut. Creator/{{MGM}} eventually took the film out of von Stroheim's hands and released it with a running time of about two and a half hours. The shortened film was a flop, panned by critics and [[CreatorBacklash disowned by its director]]. It has, however, been VindicatedByHistory, and is commonly considered one of the masterpieces of silent cinema. The four-hour DirectorsCut of ''Greed'' is sometimes called the "Holy Grail" of film archivists. No copy of [[MissingEpisode the deleted footage]] has ever been found, but the twelve people who ''did'' see the full eight hour version have deemed it one of the greatest films ever made.
!!This film provides examples of:
* AmusementPark: Trina and Marcus go to one on a date.
* AnimalMotifs: [=McTeague=] and his wife are represented as birds, caged together in a dysfunctional relationship, while Marcus is the cat watching from below and waiting to pounce.
* BeardOfSorrow: [=McTeague=] grows one after getting fired.
* TheBladeAlwaysLandsPointyEndIn: Marcus flings a knife at [=McTeague=] which sticks neatly in the wall. (This being an obviously reversed shot in which a knife was yanked out of a wall.)
* ColorMotif: Yellow for greed, and specifically gold--see SplashOfColor below.
* ContrivedCoincidence: After [=McTeague=] leaves for good, Trina leaves their sad little shack and takes up residence at a kindergarten where she works as custodian and sleeps in a side room. [=McTeague=] for his part is just randomly walking down a street one day, which happens to be the street in front of the school, and just happens to see his and Trina's wedding picture, torn in half and thrown in the garbage. This is how he finds her again.
* DidIMentionItsChristmas: The unsettling scene where Mac murders Trina takes place in a school that is decorated for the Christmas season, complete with tree.
* DownerEnding: [=McTeague=] beats Trina to death, and the film ends with him stuck in Death Valley, chained to a corpse.
* DudeShesLikeInAComa: [=McTeague=] feels up Trina while she's out cold in his dentist's chair.
* EarAche: Marcus bites [=McTeague=]'s earlobe when they get into a fight.
* EpicMovie: Certainly in its original form. Even the surviving cut has an epic feel, with location shooting in San Francisco and Death Valley that was very unusual for TheTwenties.
* EstablishingCharacterMoment: [=McTeague=] pauses while hauling a load of gold ore to tend to a wounded bird. Then, when another miner hassles him over it, [=McTeague=] flies into a rage and throws the miner into a ravine. His tender side and his violent temper are both established. The following title card even says "Such was [=McTeague=]."
* TheFilmOfTheBook
* {{Foreshadowing}}: Not hard to figure out that [=McTeague=] and Trina are headed for a bad end. First comes their rather ominous first kiss, which [=McTeague=] delivers forcefully, followed by Trina fleeing in terror during a pouring rain. Then there's the wedding, in which a '''funeral procession''' passes by while they are exchanging vows.
* GoldFever: As usual, not a good thing.
* {{Greed}}: In the title! It's a driving force of most of the character actions and ultimately [=McTeague=]'s FatalFlaw.
* KissingCousins: Marcus introduces Trina as both his girlfriend and his cousin.
* LoveTriangle: Gone horribly wrong, as Marcus seeks revenge.
* MoneyFetish: Trina has an unhealthy relationship with her money.
--> "Oh how I saved and slaved for you. Nobody will ever have you."
* ReCut: A "restored" version was released that combined the existing footage with still pictures from the production. It runs nearly four hours.
* TheSevenDeadlySins: Most of the characters' actions are driven by greed, but [=McTeague=] shows lust as he kisses an unconscious Trina, and Marcus is overcome with envy, before that envy turns to wrath in the final confrontation. Gluttony is also on display at the wedding feast.
* SlashedThroat: [[spoiler:Maria's fate.]]
* SplashOfColor: Everything made of gold in the film is hand-tinted yellow--gold nuggets, Trina's gold bridgework, her wedding ring, the gold watch that Marcus gives her, the gold coins that make up her $5000. The canaries that [=McTeague=] keeps in a cage are also tinted yellow.
* StaggeredZoom: The chilling last shot, where the film zooms out to show [=McTeague=] handcuffed to a corpse in the middle of a desert.
* TemptingFate: Marcus agrees to let [=McTeague=] have Trina, saying that they are "Friends for life--or...death."
* ThanatosGambit: As [=McTeague=] beats him to death in the desert, Marcus handcuffs them together.
* ThirstyDesert: Really, Death Valley is a poor choice for refuge when fleeing from the police.
* UnholyMatrimony: [=McTeague=], who lusts for his patient while she's unconscious, causes trouble with his violent temper and hoards money for alcohol, and Trina, who has a serious MoneyFetish.
** Zerkow and his wife Maria, who marry for mutual avarice, and whose marriage dissolves into hatred even quicker than the [=McTeague=]s'.
* WantedPoster: This is pretty much all the segue there is from Trina's murder to the last sequence of [=McTeague=] fleeing into the desert. This is one of the biggest cuts in von Stroheim's film--a long section where [=McTeague=] goes back home to see his parents again was taken out of the movie.
* WeddingDay: A pretty ominous one--see {{Foreshadowing}} above.
* WorthlessYellowRocks: You got the gold. Mazel tov. Too bad you're in the middle of a ''desert'' with no ''water'' and handcuffed to a dead guy.