Neale and Pedro fly cargo between Chungking and Calcutta. When their buddy Bill is murdered they investigate. Neale meets Bill's fiancée Virginia and becomes suspicious of a deeper plot while also falling for her charms.
After World War II Larry learns that his flying buddy Mike will only live a short time despite the efforts of the doctors. He takes on a profitable flying job for profiteers Maris to ... See full summary »
Lucky Jordan, cynical gambler and racketeer, finds one thing his luck and connections can't fix: the draft board. In the army, he fits like the proverbial square peg, and deserts...to find ... See full summary »
Joe is the head of an itinerant combine crew, working the harvests against rival crew boss Alperson. Joe's buddy Jim joins the crew with startup money. Farmer's niece Fay falls for Joe. He ... See full summary »
Thinking he may have caused the death of his commanding officer Captain Daniels in Tunisia, Rocky visits Daniels' widow. She falls for him, he falls for her, she encourages him to go to ... See full summary »
Salty owes money to Doc Baxter; he and his pal Smitty have one month to pay up. They get a race horse and a disbarred jockey, Johnny Cates, who must fake his identity to race. Johnny and ... See full summary »
Nick Carraway, a young Midwesterner now living on Long Island, finds himself fascinated by the mysterious past and lavish lifestyle of his neighbour, the nouveau riche Jay Gatsby. He is ... See full summary »
Nick Carraway, a young Midwesterner now living on Long Island, finds himself fascinated by the mysterious past and lavish lifetyle of his landlord, the nouveau riche Jay Gatsby. He is drawn into Gatsby's circle, becoming a witness to obsession and tragedy. Written by
It's important to remember that this 2nd adaptation (after a lost silent version) was made after Fitzgerald died but before he--and in particular this novel--entered the American literary canon. Ergo it plays havoc with the book, immediately de-mystifying Gatsby's roots and otherwise inserting lots of crude "explanatory" flashbacks. In the fashion of the era it was made in, there's practically no attempt at period-correct fashions and decor, as it was thought then that any evocation at a just-prior period's style would be taken by audiences as "old-fashioned."
The most obvious problem is Betty Field's charisma-free Daisy. Daisy should indeed be shallow, but also so enchanting that we understand why Gatsby tracked her down. (Mia Farrow might have been miscast in the 1974 remake, but at least she understood/tried to evoke exactly those qualities.) Field just doesn't have the stuff--she's generic and vacuous in a Hollywood ingénue way. (It's no surprise that she immediately went into TV work after this role--presumably no one was shouting for her to take another big-screen lead.)
Alan Ladd is an interesting choice for Gatsby, though the film just isn't intelligent enough to effectively push him outside his usual acting comfort zone. Still, he gives a respectable performance in this flawed context. Future TV star Macdonald Carey brings zilch to Nick Carraway, unlike the excellent later Sam Waterston or Paul Rudd.
A fair amount of dialogue and the basic narrative arc remain from the novel, but there are also numerous instances where the movie vulgarizes Fitzgerald by needing to "explain" every last story/character nuance rather than letting us intuit them. It might appear a fairly interesting if misfired vehicle for Ladd if it weren't such a huge betrayal of a novel we've since come to hold sacrosanct. Of course, at the time, Hollywood was only looking for cheap sources of storytelling melodrama--and "The Great Gatsby" must have come very cheap.
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