Jean Hersholt was hospitalized after he lost 27 pounds during the filming of the movie's climax in Death Valley.
According to a newsreel produced by the CV (Cornelius Vanderbilt) News Service, the production utilized a crew of thirty-nine men and one woman while filming in Death Valley.
Concerning the editor hired to cut "Greed" down to 2 hours, Erich von Stroheim supposedly commented: "The only thing he had on his mind was his hat!"
Due to the heat in Death Valley the cameras had to be wrapped in iced towels.
Included among the '1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die', edited by Steven Jay Schneider.
MGM did not want to fund the arduous, expensive trip to Death Valley to shoot the final part of the film, and instead wanted von Stroheim to take the scenes in Oxnard, California. The director ended up getting his way.
MGM's first feature-length movie.
Originally produced with a running time of nine hours. It was only shown once at this length, at a private studio screening. That screening was on 12 January 1924 at the M-G-M studios.
Real locations in San Francisco and Oakland were used, even for interiors. The house depicted in the film, however, is not actually located on Polk street, as it is in the story. Much of Polk street had been remodeled around the time Stroheim took his company to San Francisco, and he decided that it looked too modern for the film. The company selected a building on the corner of Hayes and Laguna and completely took it over. The building still stands.
Sources have claimed Ernest B. Schoedsack was also a cinematographer, but he denies it, saying he was in the Iran filming Grass: A Nation's Battle for Life during that time.
The filming of the climax was actually the subject of an early silent newsreel. The facts reported by the newsreel concerning the Death Valley portion of the shooting: it took a day just to reach the location from the town of Keeler, California, they rode in a combination of cars and horses (one of the cars had the word "Greed" stenciled on it), water had to be rationed and they shot in August when temperatures were over 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
The first film to be shot in its entirety on location.
The only screening of the original complete director's cut was for a small group of reporters. One wrote a glowing review of it, using words like "wonderful" and "brilliant" to describe it, but lamented the fact that nobody else would ever see it.
The original 42 reel version is one of the top ten "lost films" of the American Film Institute
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.
This film features one of the earliest uses of a hidden camera in film-making. In the scene where Zasu Pitts leaves the junk shop after discovering the dead body she rushes into a real street and into real passers-by who were unaware they were being filmed. A crowd gathered, police turned up to the scene and it is said that a reporter called in the 'murder' to his editor. This coincides with Dziga Vertov 's _Kino-Eye (1924)_ which also used hidden camera techniques for the first time.
Took two years to shoot.
While doing research for the 'Eric von Stroheim' documentary The Man You Loved to Hate, filmmaker Kim Eveleth discovered a previously unknown cache of stills from the cut scenes of the director's aborted masterpiece "Greed", thus paving the way for the eventual restoration of the silent screen classic.
While filming the final confrontation in the desert, Erich von Stroheim allegedly shouted several times at actors Gibson Gowland and Jean Hersholt "Hate each other! Hate each other as much as you hate me!"
Erich von Stroheim: as a balloon vendor (although only in a deleted sequence). McTeague and Trina buy balloons from the vendor on the street.