Gus Thomson's Media Life appears Fridays in the Auburn Journal

Media Life: Greed making a comeback in Auburn

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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Residents of Placer County living close to the old Lincoln Highway back in the fall of 1924 would likely have scratched their heads over the sight of three long and powerful Cadillacs climbing in a group up the roadway into the Sierra. That mystery motorcade was traveling to an unlikely movie location near Iowa Hill to provide an authentic gold mine setting for what would turn out to be the legendary silent film “Greed.” The Cadillacs carried a crew of almost 40 led by director Eric Von Stroheim that had labored in the summer heat of Death Valley in 1924 before shooting the final scenes on location in Placer County at the Big Dipper Mine. Von Stroheim was looking for authenticity as he filmed “Greed,” sticking closely to locations in San Francisco as well as Placer County and Death Valley that were initially used in writer Frank Norris’s gritty, realistic novel of 1899, “McTeague: A Story of California.” While Von Stroheim’s “Greed” was infamously whittled down to about two hours for theatrical release by antsy studio executives who feared the original nine-plus hours of footage was going to empty theaters, some of those cuts have been restored to a three-hour, 48-minute version that will get a screening in Auburn on Feb. 7. The single showing will be at 1 p.m. in the Gold Country Museum at Auburn’s Gold Country Fairgrounds. Plans are to break the opus up into two halves with an intermission. The screening is part of the Museums Division’s program this year to tie the county a little closer to the silver screen by showcasing some of the movies made in Placer County. Besides “Greed” and a screening of “Phenomenon” this fall during a reunion for the 1996 made-in-Auburn movie, and “The Gold Rush,” filmed in the Sierra, will be featured. Because seating is limited, reservations are required. For more information or to make a reservation, call (530) 889-6500. GUITAR GREAT AT JACK’S Laurence Juber will be laying down some dynamic finger-style guitar playing in Newcastle’s Constable Jack’s performance space this coming Wednesday. He’s touring as a solo act but don’t be surprised if he makes some quotes in his performance back to a time 30 years ago when he served as a resident guitar player for the final incarnation of Paul McCartney’s band Wings. In fact, while the album he played on – 1979’s “Back to the Egg” – was one of the former Beatle’s lesser-remembered efforts, Juber did join in on a jam called “Rockestra” that won a Grammy. It didn’t hurt that a trio of guitar legends were also on the track – The Who’s Pete Townshend, Pink Floyd’s David Gilmore and Hank Marvin of The Shadows. But Juber held his own. Juber, now living in Southern California, was a Wing for three years, leaving when the band ceased to be in 1981 as the group’s final lead guitarist. Since then, he’s found a new niche as a well-respected solo artist, composer and arranger. He’s released 12 solo albums. Along the way, he’s also created some lasting session work in Disney’s “Pocahontas” and for television (“7th Heaven”). He’s also leant his name to one of the ultimate in guitar honors – having a “Laurence Juber Signature Edition” guitar designed and built by C.F. Martin. Showtime at Jack’s, located at 515 Main St. in downtown Newcastle, is 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $20. On Juber’s request, those 14 and under are admitted at half-price. Tickets can be reserved by calling (916) 663-9385. Constable Jack’s owner Tim Looper said the concert will be an intimate one, with tables pulled up where the dance floor normally is and Juber playing just through his amp. Juber has performed at the Newcastle venue about six times before and never fails to wow even the pickiest guitar pickers in the audience, Looper said. NEWSROOM NOSTALGIA The recent issue of Reminisce magazine provides a glimpse of Placer County’s rich newspapering past, courtesy of Auburn resident Donna Howell. That national publication, which bills itself as American’s No. 1 nostalgia magazine, published a photo Howell supplied in its “Pictures from the Past” section. The photo shows four employees of a paper that would soon became what is now the Journal looking up from their work setting out type for printing a November 1910 edition of the newspaper. Howell is quoted as saying her grandfather was a photographer from the 1880s to the 1920s and the setting is the interior of the then-Placer County Republican. Thanks to Auburn’s Margie Davis for sending in a clipping of the photo and article. Media Life’s Gus Thomson can be reached at