07/16/22 - posted by Paul Judge

McTeague: A Story of San Francisco, otherwise known as simply McTeague, was a very popular novel by Frank Norris. Norris was a writer during the Progressive era late 19th, early 20th Century of political muckraking and reform. His two other books The Octopus: A Story of California and The Pit: A Story of Chicago moved people to reform conditions set in those books.
Erich von Stroheim directed the novel into film in 1924 titled ‘Greed’. Among film lovers Greed is considered one of the finest films of cinematic history ( I dunno, if ya see it bring lots of pillows!). As a child I heard my dad and uncles who grew up in the Western Addition thrillingly talk of watching street scenes filmed along Polk Street. The original film was 8.5 hours long but was released mostly in a 2.5 hour format. In the mid 1970s I saw a 4.5 hour version with my Dad who picked out and identified businesses, home owners, and settings of the film. There’s even a scene set at the Cliff House in a corner window by the lower esplanade walkway. In my sense of righteous local film history using a Sharpie pen I used to apply on the outside window frame “McTeague sat here!”. Some may remember the actress ZaSu Pitts as Trina Sieppe, McTeague’s wife who later performed in the 1950s in The Gale Storm Show: Oh, Susanna television show. Director Erich von Stroheim later in his career performed as Max, the bald, stern and stoic butler to Gloria Swanson's Norma Desmond in Billy Wilder's 1950 Hollywood classic, “Sunset Boulevard.”
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