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
The earlier success of The Roaring Twenties (1939) and the ensuing Jazz Age nostalgia craze in the early 1940s led film censor Joseph I. Breen to refuse to green-light any similar films set during the Prohibition era. Breen felt such films glamorized wickedness and degeneracy. Consequently, The Great Gatsby (1949), originally slated to be released in the early 1940s, was delayed for nearly a decade. See more »
During the early montage assaying 1920s culture, Nick Carraway's voice-over narration lists a number of popular dances such as the Lindy Hop, the Black Bottom, and the Charleston. However, none of the accompanying on-screen footage of dancing couples accurately depicts the listed dances. See more »
Everyone who knows me knows I'm partial to the 1974 film adaptation of The Great Gatsby. In my opinion, it's even more perfect than F. Scott Fitzgerald's original novel. I've tried watching other versions and have never made it through all the way. In the 1949 version, the set designs and Robert Emmett Dolan's musical score are very pretty, but I wasn't in love with the cast. The screenplay also took many liberties from the original novel, which is the right of the screenwriter. However, unlike Francis Ford Coppola, Richard Maibaum and Cyril Hume didn't add to the symbolism of the story.
Alan Ladd played Gatsby, Betty Field was Daisy, Macdonald Carey was Nick, and Barry Sullivan was Tom. If you've studied the characters even half as thoroughly as I have, you can tell that the casting wasn't ideal. Alan Ladd may have been handsome, but he didn't appear to be hiding anything, which is essential to his character. He didn't have a desperate edge, and he didn't have very much energy behind his lines. Betty Field played Daisy as written in the novel, with a Southern accent, but I've never liked that interpretation. To me, Mia Farrow's affected accent makes her character that much more convincing . . . and my little joke is that F. Scott Fitzgerald is unaware of it. Ironically, the original director for the 1949 version was John Farrow, but since he didn't like the choice of Betty Field, he dropped out! Betty had no star power, no irresistible quality to show the audience the motivation behind Gatsby's character. Barry Sullivan wasn't tough enough, and Macdonald Carey was too whiny.
Shelley Winters was aptly cast as Myrtle, and her husband was played by Howard Da Silva, who made a return appearance in a different role in the 1974 version! Seeing them in this earlier version was pretty cute. My advice is to just watch maybe a scene or two if you like collecting versions, and then just listen to the music.
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