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♪ LIVE PIANO ACCOMPANIMENT BY STEVE STERNER
(1924) Turn-of-the-century San Francisco dentist Gibson Gowland loses his business to rival Jean Hersholt and his sanity to wife ZaSu Pitts’ miserliness, en route to a harrowing Death Valley finale. The screen’s ultimate masterpiece maudit, but it remains “among the memorable artistic achievements in Hollywood history” (John Douglas Eames).
"A masterpiece, with at least twenty sequences that remain etched
in the memories of all cinephiles. Its theme of the dehumanizing
influence of money is projected with an unforgettable realistic power."
– Georges Sadoul
"One of Stroheim's greatest films. Essential viewing."
– Jonathan Rosenbaum
"A true masterpiece of cinema. Even now its relentlessly cynical portrait of physical and moral squalor retains the ability to shock... Frank Norris' novel is translated into the cinematic equivalent of, say, Zola at the peak of his powers. Never has a wedding been so bitterly depicted, never a moral denouement been delivered with such vicious irony."
– Geoff Andrew, Time Out (London)
"Sublime in its high stylization, which ranges from the highly Brechtian spectacle of ZaSu Pitts
making love to her gold coins to deep-focus compositions every bit as advanced as those in Citizen Kane. It is probably the most modern in feel of all silent films, establishing ideas that would not be developed until decades later."
– Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader
"Remains the benchmark of movie naturalism – it's veracious and harrowing."
– Michael Sragow, The New Yorker