The Great Gatsby (1974 film)

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The Great Gatsby
Great gatsby 74.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Jack Clayton
Produced by David Merrick
Screenplay by Francis Ford Coppola
Based on The Great Gatsby 
by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Starring
Music by Nelson Riddle
Cinematography Douglas Slocombe
Edited by Tom Priestly
Production
company
Newdon Productions
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release dates
  • March 29, 1974 (1974-03-29)
Running time 146 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $6.5 million
Box office $26,533,200[2]

The Great Gatsby is a 1974 American romantic drama film distributed by Newdon Productions and Paramount Pictures. It was directed by Jack Clayton and produced by David Merrick, from a screenplay by Francis Ford Coppola based on F. Scott Fitzgerald's 1925 novel The Great Gatsby.

The film stars Robert Redford in the title role of Jay Gatsby, along with Mia Farrow, Sam Waterston, Bruce Dern, Karen Black, Scott Wilson, and Lois Chiles with Howard Da Silva, Roberts Blossom, and Edward Herrmann. Da Silva had previously appeared in the 1949 version also titled The Great Gatsby.

Cast[edit]

Casting[edit]

The rights to the novel were purchased in 1971 by Robert Evans so that his wife Ali MacGraw could play Daisy. After MacGraw left Evans for Steve McQueen, he considered other actresses for the role, including Faye Dunaway, Candice Bergen, Natalie Wood, Katharine Ross, Lois Chiles, Cybill Shepherd, and Mia Farrow. Eventually Farrow was cast as Daisy and Chiles was given the role of Jordan. Warren Beatty, Jack Nicholson, and Steve McQueen were considered for the role of Gatsby but they were rejected or declined the offer. Beatty wanted to direct producer Evans as Gatsby and Nicholson didn't think that MacGraw was right for the role of Daisy, who was still attached when he was approached. Farrow was pregnant during the shooting and the movie was filmed with her wearing loose, flowing dresses and in tight close-ups.

Production[edit]

Screenplay[edit]

Truman Capote was the original screenwriter but he was replaced by Francis Ford Coppola. On his commentary track for the DVD release of The Godfather, Coppola makes reference to writing the Gatsby script at the time, though he comments: "Not that the director paid any attention to it. The script that I wrote did not get made."

In 2000 William Goldman, who loved the novel, said he actively campaigned for the job of adapting the script, but was astonished by the quality of Coppola's work:

I still believe it to be one of the great adaptations... I called him [Coppola] and told him what a wonderful thing he had done. If you see the movie, you will find all this hard to believe... The director who was hired, Jack Clayton, is a Brit... he had one thing all of them have in their blood: a murderous sense of class... Well, Clayton decided this: that Gatsby's parties were shabby and tacky, given by a man of no elevation and taste. There went the ball game. As shot, they were foul and stupid and the people who attended them were foul and silly, and Robert Redford and Mia Farrow, who would have been so perfect as Gatsby and Daisy, were left hung out to dry. Because Gatsby was a tasteless fool and why should we care about their love? It was not as if Coppola's glory had been jettisoned entirely, though it was tampered with plenty; it was more that the reality and passions it depicted were gone.[3]

Filming[edit]

The Rosecliff and Marble House mansions in Newport, Rhode Island, were used for Gatsby's house while scenes at the Buchanans' home were filmed at Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire, England. One driving scene was shot in Windsor Great Park, UK. Other scenes were filmed in New York City and Uxbridge, Massachusetts.

Reception[edit]

The film received mixed reviews. The film was praised for its interpretation and staying true to the novel, but was criticized for lacking any true emotion or feelings towards the Jazz Age. Based on 30 total reviews collected by Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an overall approval rating from critics of 37%.[4] Despite this, the film was a financial success, making $26,533,200[2] against a $6.5 million budget.

Tennessee Williams, in his book Memoirs' (p. 178), wrote: “It seems to me that quite a few of my stories, as well as my one acts, would provide interesting and profitable material for the contemporary cinema, if committed to ... such cinematic masters of direction as Jack Clayton, who made of The Great Gatsby a film that even surpassed, I think, the novel by Scott Fitzgerald.”[5][6]

Vincent Canby's 1974 review in The New York Times typifies the critical ambivalence: "The sets and costumes and most of the performances are exceptionally good, but the movie itself is as lifeless as a body that's been too long at the bottom of a swimming pool," Canby wrote at the time. "As Fitzgerald wrote it, "The Great Gatsby" is a good deal more than an ill-fated love story about the cruelties of the idle rich.... The movie can't see this through all its giant closeups of pretty knees and dancing feet. It's frivolous without being much fun."[7]

Variety's review was likewise split: "Paramount's third pass at The Great Gatsby is by far the most concerted attempt to probe the peculiar ethos of the Beautiful People of the 1920s. The fascinating physical beauty of the $6 million-plus film complements the utter shallowness of most principal characters from the F. Scott Fitzgerald novel. Robert Redford is excellent in the title role, the mysterious gentleman of humble origins and bootlegging connections.... The Francis Ford Coppola script and Jack Clayton's direction paint a savagely genteel portrait of an upper class generation that deserved in spades what it received circa 1929 and after."[8]

Roger Ebert gave the movie two and a half stars out of four. He stated, "It would take about the same time to read Fitzgerald's novel as to view this movie -- and that's what I'd recommend."[9]

Awards and nominations[edit]

The film won two Academy Awards, for Best Costume Design (Theoni V. Aldredge) and Best Music (Nelson Riddle). It also won three BAFTA Awards for Best Art Direction (John Box), Best Cinematography (Douglas Slocombe), and Best Costume Design (Theoni V. Aldredge). (The male costumes were executed by Ralph Lauren, the female costumes by Barbara Matera.) It won a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress (Karen Black) and received three further nominations for Best Supporting Actor (Bruce Dern and Sam Waterston) and Most Promising Newcomer (Sam Waterston).

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The Great Gatsby (A)". British Board of Film Classification. 1974-03-12. Retrieved 2013-04-07. 
  2. ^ a b The Great Gatsby, Box Office Information. The Numbers. Retrieved May 22, 2012.
  3. ^ Goldman, William (2000). Which Lies Did I Tell?. London: Bloomsbury. pp. 95–96. ISBN 0-7475-4977-X. 
  4. ^ The Great Gatsby at Rotten Tomatoes
  5. ^ Williams, Tennessee (1975). Memoirs. Doubleday & Co. 
  6. ^ Sinyard, Neil (2000). Jack Clayton. UK: Manchester University Press. p. 289. ISBN 0-7190-5505-9. 
  7. ^ Canby, Vincent (1974). "A Lavish Gatsby Loses Book's Spirit". The New York Times, March 28, 1974
  8. ^ Variety staff, (1973). "Review: The Great Gatsby". Variety, December 31, 1973
  9. ^ Ebert, Roger The Great Gatsby Movie Review, Chicago Sun Times, January 1, 1974

External links[edit]