Friday, February 22, 2013


You pretty much know what you’re in for in this, the third screen adaptation of  F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic 1925 novel The Great Gatsby when the film begins with a series of loving, beautifully lit, perfectly framed, Architectural Digest-worthy shots of property and objects. Instead of a haunting rumination on romantic obsession as a means of recapturing the past, poetically framed by a bitter indictment of materialism, the American Dream, and the emotional recklessness of the rich; this is The Great Gatsby as told from the perspective of nostalgia fetish.
The Great Gatsby suffers a bit from a confused point of view. When the camera lens is trained on Gatsby's beautiful objects, I suspect we're supposed to respond to the hollow allure of materialism. Unfortunately, the images are so arrestingly beautiful that they invite audiences to ooh and ahh over their luster. In essence, to view the items from the acquisitive, money-enamored perspective of Daisy. A bit of a problem, given that she is one of the more superficial and morally corrupt characters in the film.

In this Jack Clayton directed (The Innocents, Room at the Top) adaptation of an overly-reverential screenplay by Francis Ford Coppola, the unrequited love affair between Jay Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan takes a back seat to the love affair the camera has with all the 1920s Art Deco knickknacks, gimcracks, and gewgaws on display throughout. This The Great Gatsby is a fashionista’s orgy of breathtaking period costuming, a production designer’s wet dream of glittering Jazz Age opulence, and an antiquities museum curator’s idea of a motion picture. Lovely to look at, yet emotionally arid, antiseptic, and hermetically sealed.
Robert Redford as Jay Gatsby
Mia Farrow as Daisy Buchanan
Bruce Dern as Tom Buchanan
Sam Waterston as Nick Carraway
Karen Black as Myrtle Wilson
Lois Chiles as Jordan Baker
Miscast, misguided, and overproduced (the latter an odd thing to say about a movie that revels in the excesses of the wealthy). That this film ranks at all amongst my picks of memorable movies to write about for this blog is largely due to The Great Gatsby being one of my top, all-time favorite novels, and this version being a particularly faithful big-screen adaptation. Painstakingly so, in fact. Indeed, the paradox of this nearly $7 million mounting of The Great Gatsby is how it is able to faithfully replicate so many intricate details of the novel (including sizable chunks of dialog and virtually the entirety of the book's events and characters) while still managing somehow to leave out both the book's passion and its pathos. It’s like one of those lifelike celebrity waxworks at Madame Tussauds: identical in every superficial detail, but falling short of being a true representation of life because it lacks a soul.
How this came to be can perhaps be traced to the film’s troubled genesis, recounted in fascinating detail in Bruce Bahrenburg’s book, Filming The Great Gatsby (my own yellowed and tattered copy, purchased in the heat of 1974’s studio-generated “Gatsby Fever”). Originally conceived and developed as a wedding present vehicle for Ali MacGraw by then-husband Robert Evans, The Great Gatsby was derailed when MacGraw threw a gold-plated, 14-carat monkey wrench into the works by falling in love with her The Getaway co-star, Steve McQueen. While the hunt went out for a new Daisy (in which several credible applicants like Faye Dunaway and Candice Bergen were passed over for, in my opinion, the absolutely incredible choice of Mia Farrow), an ailing Truman Capote was fired as screenwriter and later sued the studio. Meanwhile, the beautiful but inexpressive Lois Chiles was entrusted with the showy role of Jordan Baker simply because she was the girlfriend of the cuckolded Robert Evans, and studio head Charles Bluhdorn figured the poor guy needed to catch a break.
Daisy & Gatsby
Mia Farrow (absolute perfection in Rosemary's Baby) is an actress I greatly admire, but for me, she was totally out of her depth as Daisy Buchanan. Lacking the ability of say, Julie Christie, who can somehow play shallow and self-absorbed as interesting and sympathetic, Farrow's Daisy is mostly annoyingly fey and shrill. To be fair, F.Scott Fitzgerald's daughter, Frances, told People magazine at the time, "Mia Farrow looks like the Daisy my father had in mind." However, this was said during the filming. I've no idea what she thought after seeing the finished product.

Most movies have tortuous paths to completion, but The Great Gatsby is one of those films that gives the appearance of an inordinate amount of time and energy being spent on engineering a marketable property, not making a film. We still have the basic story of the millionaire with the shady past who attempts to reignite an old love affair with the socialite who threw him over years ago when he was poor, but that's almost all we have. Very little of what can be deemed effective is done with the novel's themes involving class, idealized romance, and morality.
One rarely gets the sense that anyone involved in the making of The Great Gatsby had even read the novel, much less understood any of what Fitzgerald was trying to say about the corrupting allure of the shiny side of the American Dream. Had more than a few seconds of thought been afforded these concerns, surely someone would have noted the contradiction inherent in making an ostentatious, large-scale behemoth about the pernicious vulgarity of the rich. I have a hunch that Paramount, in having made a fortune with Erich Segal’s Love Story, merely saw Fitzgerald's book as a "great romance." I'm sure it was their hope to combine the crowd-pleasing romanticism of Love Story (1970) with the moneymaking, sentimentalized nostalgia of The Way We Were (1973), and never gave a thought to much else.
Hype Gripe
The amount of publicity surrounding the release of The Great Gatsby was near-suffocating and ultimately off-putting to the public. In 1974 Warner Bros had Mame waiting in the wings, while  Paramount had Gatsby as well as Chinatown. The entire country was swept up in a nostalgia craze that even the decade's eventual disco fever couldn't quell.

For all my complaining about what a prefab piece of Hollywood machinery The Great Gatsby turned out to be, I nevertheless get quite a kick out of the film. This in spite of my not finding the film to be particularly good, yet feeling a certain attachment to it due to a few sentimental, Gatsby-esque reasons of my own. The pleasure I derive from watching The Great Gatsby these days is chiefly nostalgic in nature, and directly related to the memories I have of my sixteen-year-old self in 1974. Back then I was caught up in all things movie-related and willfully swept up in the Gatsby hype. I bought all the magazines containing Gatsby articles, purchased the soundtrack album, and dragged my family to see it several times. I did everything short of begging my mother to purchase and serve our meals on the limited-edition The Great Gatsby Corelle® dinnerware they sold at the local department store.
At that time, I hadn't yet read Fitzgerald’s novel, so I didn't have any expectations waiting to be dashed. Nevertheless, in spite of my enthusiasm (or perhaps, because of it) when the film finally opened, I was a bit underwhelmed. It was nothing like the moving romance I was expecting, but it was a great deal like a film adaptation of a campy, self-serious Harold Robbins novel. Then, as now, I find it a gorgeous film to look at, and with each passing year, I grow ever fonder of the old-fashioned movie magic of large crowds of extras, big sets, period detail, all accomplished with no CGI. But it's still a film whose every scene is haunted by the twin ghosts of what-could-have-been and unrealized potential.
A Fine Romance
If Gatsby and Daisy failed to sizzle for some audiences, their lack of heat is nothing compared to the non-romance of butch professional golfer Jordan Baker and Tony Perkins-esque narrator Nick Carraway. According to IMDB trivia, original screenwriter Truman Capote wrote Nick as a homosexual and Jordan as a lesbian. Sounds about right to me. 

My DVD of the film is a treasured guilty pleasure, but I can't help wishing it were otherwise. A consolation of sorts is that the joys I currently find in this surprisingly joyless movie (Gatsby’s parties look well-populated and busy, but not the least bit fun) are of the so-bad-it’s-good variety. I honestly could watch this film every day, yet I wouldn't recommend it to a soul. It's a very watchable, amiable kind of failure. One which yields new campy treasures and glaring misjudgments with each viewing.
A couple of examples:
Daisy’s hair. In her memoirs, Mia Farrow felt her performance was “undermined” by the unflattering wig she was forced to wear, claiming that for the duration, “(It) felt and looked like cotton candy.” Can’t disagree with her there.
The clothes fetish. I know everyone in this movie is supposed to be rich and can afford fancy garb, but this is one of those movies where all the clothes have that distracting “never been worn” look. This also applies to the never-lived-in sets and all those pristine automobiles on display. These cars are so drooled over by the camera that when Myrtle meets her end at the fender of Gatsby’s gorgeous yellow Rolls Royce, I'm tempted to think audiences were left in a moral quandary...were they upset by her grisly death, or because she left such a big, ugly dent in that perfectly lovely automobile?
Author Tom Wolfe: "I'll never forgive the 1974 version of 'The Great Gatsby,' which was the Fitzgerald novel as reinterpreted by the garment industry. Throughout the picture, Robert Redford wore white suits. They fitted so badly that every time he turned a corner there was an eighty-microsecond lag before they joined him."

According to Roman Polanski, his dream casting of the role of Guy Woodhouse in Rosemary’s Baby would have been Robert Redford. Upon seeing the lack of chemistry displayed between Mia Farrow and Robert Redford in The Great Gatsby, I'm inclined to think he dodged a bullet there. Certainly the Clark Gable of the ’70s, Robert Redford is a strikingly handsome man (I could write a sonnet about the way the sun hits the blond fur on his upper thighs in his swimsuit scene); but he is woefully stiff and colorless as Gatsby. It’s unimaginable that anyone this bland could harbor an obsessed fixation on anything other than perhaps Miracle Whip.
Most of the acting in The Great Gatsby falls into one of two categories: stiff or fussy. As garage owner George Wilson, actor Scott Wilson (so good in In Cold Blood) somehow manages to combine both as he's allowed to go through the entire film with the exact same watery-eyed, self-pitying expression you see here. The exasperation expressed by wife Myrtle (Karen Black) is pretty much on par with my own.

By way of contrast, we have my personal 70s fave, Karen Black, giving what can most charitably be described as a ridiculous performance as 20s hotbox, Myrtle Wilson. Karen Black won a Golden Globe for it, so perhaps it’s just a matter of taste, but I don’t believe her Myrtle for a minute…which is not the same thing as saying that I don’t love her performance. Acting her ass off in an almost alarmingly mannered fashion, Black is terrible in that Patty Duke as Neely O’Hara way. And as such, she’s close to being the only life the film has. I'm not sure whose idea it was to make Myrtle so hapless (over the course of the film, Black falls down a flight of stairs, shoves her hand through a plate window, and suffers a rap across the mouth), but hers is a physical, black comedy performance (pun intended) very faithful to the idiosyncratic skills of the actress. Tone and tempo of the rest of the film be damned.
Actress Brooke Adams, (l.) who would star in 1978's Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and actor Edward Herrmann (r.) who played FDR in the 1982 musical, Annie show up in bit parts as party guests in The Great Gatsby.

There’s not a lot that Mia Farrow does right in The Great Gatsby, but there is one scene where she so completely nails it that it almost makes her being so poorly cast worthwhile. It’s the scene that takes place in the Buchanan household when everyone is sitting around the dinner table complaining about the heat (taking place over the course of one summer, everybody sweats a lot in this movie…from the neck up, anyway. No one’s clothes are ever damp). In this scene, Daisy forgets herself and speaks to Gatsby as though the others aren't there. “Ah, you look so cool. You always look so cool,” she says dreamily. Catching herself, she blushes and starts to rattle off a nonsense explanation that hilariously trails off to nowhere. Farrow seriously knocks that little bit of business out of the park. It’s the single most authentically character-based acting she does in the film, and she’s great. In that one minute, I can see what kind of woman Daisy was perhaps supposed to be all along.
Very Pretty People Capable of Very Ugly Things

Trusting a sensitive book like The Great Gatsby to an industry comprised of individuals who wouldn't recognize a moral imperative if it tapped them on the shoulder and asked if it could park their Hummers for them, is a little like asking Donald Trump to act like a human being for five minutes: the desire may be there, but the tools to pull it off aren't.
This version of The Great Gatsby is almost valueless as drama, but it's the perfect kind of screen adaptation of a literary classic for showing in high school English Classes. For while it is a faithful visual representation of the body of the text, at no time does the film tip its hand toward revealing what the novel’s underlying themes are, leaving students free to discuss amongst themselves.
Toned, tanned, & terrific, beefcake Redford provides a glimpse of what is 
so great about this particular Gatsby.

Because in my heart I consider The Great Gatsby to be a book of ideas and moral concepts poetically dramatized, I have my doubts as to whether it’s the kind of book that will ever lend itself to a satisfying screen adaptation. I must say I’m intrigued by the little I've seen of Baz Luhrmann’s forthcoming adaptation (although I'm not sure if I'm up for another one of Tobey Maguire's stare-a-thon roles). Its considerable visual dazzle once again raises the issue of whether or not it is possible for a film to simultaneously condemn and chronicle extreme wealth. If not, I guess we'll be left with another example of the past repeating 3-D, no less.
Gatsby reaches out toward the light at the end of Daisy's dock.

Nick: “You can’t repeat the past.”
Gatsby: “You can’t repeat the past? Of course you can.”

Copyright © Ken Anderson  2009 - 2013


  1. Nevermind the dent in the car, what about the destruction of Gatsby's rather expensive flotation device?

    All kidding aside, it's a great way to make Gatsby look positively juvenile. One step away from having him swim around in the pool with an inflatable plastic duck around his chest.

    I watched this several years ago, without having read the book, and I too noticed how little emotional impact the whole shebang delivered. It's a watchable film, but your points about its various misjudgements are well taken, Ken.

    Having just seen the trailer for the latest "Gatsby" on the big screen, I'm not sure if Baz Luhrmann has followed your train of thought on how the story ought to be presented (no surprises there). In fact, I'm sure that he hasn't. It appears to be a celebration of excess more than anything else--with modern pop music, no less! Leonardo DiCaprio doesn't seem to be playing it straight, either. I doubt anybody did.

    Speaking of not playing it straight, I seem to recall Jordan Baker (Lois Chiles) as a Babe Didrikson type (the female answer to Jim Thorpe who seemingly could excel at any sport, and was rather well known for her golf swing).

    On that note, Truman Capote needn't have bothered trying to write the Jordan Baker character as a lesbian for the film adaptation. For crying out loud, even in F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel, Jordan is a woman who plays golf. Once you give a woman that occupation, the subtext writes itself. The only way Capote could have made it anymore obvious would be been to make Jordan a High School Gym Teacher.

    Finally, how many times does Gatsby say "old sport" in this thing? It's actually rather amusing--even funnier when one character (Bruce Dern as Tom Buchanan, I believe) expresses how much this annoys him. I'm amazed that you got through an entire review without mentioning the phrase!

    1. Hi Mark
      Funny you made the comment “It’s a great way to make Gatsby juvenile,” because a running theme throughout the book “Filming the Great Gatsby” is Robert Redford’s concern that Gatsby (in scenes where he’s supposed to show his excitement in having Daisy back in his life) would look juvenile. To the frustration of both Clayton and Coppola, Redford throughout the filming, devoted himself to emotionally subduing his character until he wound up with the stiff, absent performance we have here.
      Like you, I think most people who love the book are surprised at how little emotional impact this adaptation has. Jack Clayton has shown himself to be a marvelously sensitive director in the past, but Mia Farrow stated that the almost constant presence of producer David Merrick on the sets (along with production executive Robert Evan’s well-chronicled hands-on approach to his job) created an environment of too many cooks. Francis Ford Coppola has said that the finished film is NOT the script he wrote.
      As for the coming Baz Lurhmann version, it’s just my personal sense of the story that any adaptation of the book is getting off on the wrong foot if it makes us envious of the elaborate trappings of rich.I have no idea how a director can do it, but I think ifa director is honest, he/she at least has a chance. There is serious unhappiness behind the joyless excesses of the rich, and many of these Hollywood types know full well how empty their lives are. It may require a real artist, but I believe someone can show material excess for what it is, and create a moving drama about how easy it is to hide moral decay behind material wealth. In the disturbing film Funny Games, Michael Haneke brilliantly made a violent film that assaulted the audience’s love of violence. I think Gatsby needs a director creative enough to use the public’s mindless fascination with the rich, contextually, and to convey the disgust Nick comes to feel about those he once naively admired.
      And as for the “Old sport” thing, I had indeed considered referencing it in my post, but I wanted to use a panel from the Mad Magazine parody, “The Great Gasbag,” wherein Gatsby keeps getting the phrase wrong (“old spot”, “Old spit”) being unsuccessful in my online search for a graphic, I dropped it. Redford’s constant use of the phrase was definitely a giggle point in many a screening.

  2. Ken, I suppose it would've been better if I hadn't already read and loved Fitzgerald's novel before I saw the '74 adaptation. Like you, I was swept up in all the hype of the time and had great expectations. What a disappointment - all form, no content. Mia Farrow is godawful as Daisy. Redford looks absurd and seems uncomfortable as Gatsby. Your description of Karen Black's performance, "terrible in that Patty Duke as Neely O'Hara" way" is priceless and precisely on target.

    1. Hello Eve! Thanks you very much for stopping by!
      I got around to reading "The Great Gatsby" only as recently as 1998. Had I read the book before seeing this film, I would have been crestfallen at the lost opportunity. You must have been sorely disappointed. It really is all form.
      Gatsby is one of literature's great dreamers. He reminds me of the tortured characters in Theodore Dreiser's works. But in paying so much attention to recreating the 20's and all the superficial trappings, they emptied the film of the one aspect we who go to the movies can relate to...the hopeless longing for dreams that can't possibly come true.

  3. I've been meaning to ask -- and Scott Wilson's appearance here gives me the excuse -- what you think of The Ninth Configuration. (I suspect it may not have enough women in it for your taste.)

    I must admit, a substantial amount of the fun coming here (and I always read them with relish, even if I don't post) is seeing actors I know but young enough that it's hard to recognize them. (Here, Dern and Waterston.)

    1. Hi Allen
      Always nice hearing from you and I'm glad you get a kick out of seeing the baby-faces of some of today's veteran actors. Some (like Waterston and Tommy Le Jones), look like mere pups.

      I had to look up “The Ninth Configuration" on IMDB to even remember that it was a film I had indeed seen when (on cable TV or VHS in the 80s) but I have not a single memory of it. I seem to remember films I hate a lot or love a lot, but if they’ve made no impression, they fall into this memory limbo. I recall that there was a lot of public interest in the film when it was first released because everyone assumed, what with William Peter Blatty's involvement, it was going to be some kind of horror film. But I confess I only saw it once and it apparently went straight out of my consciousness.
      But you bring up a good point about this film and its all-male cast. I think I have less an aversion to movies without females in them as not particularly liking the way male relationships are portrayed in films. To oversimplify, there tends to be too much emphasis on macho conflict and a subconscious fear of male emotional intimacy. Films with a dominance of male characters feel to me like they lack a certain complexity allowed when a female is written into the script.
      I think Scott Wilson has a sizable role in “The Ninth Configuration”, is he particularly good? He's given only one emotion to play in "Gatsby."

    2. Certainly Wilson has a big and crucial role, as the astronaut who's afraid to return to space. Particularly good? Maybe not.

      As the movie takes place in an insane asylum (a point which isn't made clear for some time!) it's got lots of room for wild performances from its very large cast. As I suppose one should expect from the Exorcist writer, the movie cares more about religious issues than I did, so that was a sticking point, but otherwise I found it an interesting story. (Overdetailed summary at the wiki page:

  4. Lois Chiles, so beautiful *sighs* Sorry I can't be more constructive! Great post Ken

    1. Ha! Trust me, that comment is all you need when it comes to Lois Chiles. She is absolutely gorgeous...especially in this film. My response would be identical (and just as brief) if you posted a pic of Julian Sands on your site.

    2. Remembering this comment, I just had to direct you to

  5. Great review, Ken! You always nail it when you describe how a film manges to engage the audience or not. I saw the film once long ago and did not feel that I ever had to see it again - for all the reasons you mention in your article.

    I had not thought of Redford and Farrow being the original choices for "Rosemary's Baby" and how it was just as well it never happened. Redford is handsome but I've always found him to be just as wooden and good looking as Paul Newman.

    I laughed when you wrote about the dent in the car! The only thing that makes me sort of want to watch the 1974 version of "The Great Gatsby " again is to see Karen Black in it. She usually brings life to the films she's in and I am amazed that she may have overacted here!

    1. Aw, thank you very much, Wille!
      I don't that I'm so adept at describing why a movie doesn't engage an audience, but yours of bellyaching about films has made me pretty good at gauging how a movie doesn't grab ME. :-)
      Did you ever see the Jane Fonda/Robert Redford film, "Barefoot in the Park"? Before Mia farrow was introduced by Robert Evans, that was Roman Polanski's ideal pairing for "Rosemary's Baby." Redford is still a bit of a stiff, but his chemistry with Fonda always struck me as better than with Farrow. Kind of interesting to ponder, huh?

      And you should check it out for Karen Black. She is VERY lively in the film and I'm not so sure she overacts so much as i can't make heads or tails of what effect she's going for. Her Myrtle is kind of twitchy (but as it's Karen Black, always fascinating).
      if you should see the new "Gatsby" film, drop a line and let me know what you think. I might just wait for the DVD. Thanks, Wille!

  6. Wow, I didn't know Jane Fonda was Polanskis first choice for Rosemary!

    I probably won't see the new Gatsby as I am not the least compelled to see a Leonardo di Caprio movie. He may be a good actor but he looks too boyish to play an adult convincingly, in my opinion. Also, I tend to avoid Buz Luhrman films.

    I'd much rather watch the 1974 version again for Karen Black and Lois Chiles. Chiles career was a little odd. She was in some big films in the 70's and even in a James Bond but she never became a star.

    1. Yeah, Tuesday Weld and Jane Fonda for Rosemary. While I think Farrow is pitch perfect, I like Weld so much that I would have loved to have seen her under Polanski's direction.
      I think DiCaprio is an amazing actor, but I swear, I'm with you in waiting for his baby face to catch up with his age. He always looks like a kid playing dress-up. It's not his fault, but I'm never able to get past that.

      As for Lois Chiles, I think she is an amazingly beautiful woman with a strong screen presence, but she was also incredibly lucky. She really landed a lot of high-profile parts. If Robert Evans' memoirs are to be trusted, she was more ambitious than talented, and it worked!
      By the way, i cracked up on hearing you say you generally avoid Baz Luhrmann films!

  7. I saw the movie but have virtually no memory of it. Except the pink and pastel colored suits. I saw the recent Baz Luhrmann version and found all the characters incredibly unlikeable and unsympathetic.

    1. Hi Frank
      Yeah, I didn't like the Baz Luhrmann version at all. This one has grown on me. But I think what you say about the characters being essentially unlikeable (which they should be...but they should at least have charm) might be behind why Fitzgerald's novel has such a rough go of it on the screen.

  8. Very late to this party! But I wanted to comment. I like this movie precisely for the nostalgia of 1974 (yesterday, when I was young), and the pastel prettiness. Redford is very miscast, totally unbelievable as the criminal Gatsby, living on the edge, clawing his way to respectability through his Daisy fantasy and ill-gotten gains. Mia sometimes captures a vagueness that might be Daisy, but she's too shrill and misses Daisy's selfish, calculating ways. Karen Black is completely over the top, but we love her for it. Lois Chiles should never have been more than a beautiful bookend in any movie. Still and all, I will enjoy this when I want a mindless reminder of the way we were. (Sorry, had to :))

    1. Hi Bella
      What a beautifully (and amusingly) concise assessment, and I concur on every point. I particularly like the term "vagueness" as applied to what Farrow does bring to the mix, and with the passing of time, Lois Chiles' beauty truly does seem rather luminescent in this film.
      I think what we both share is an affectionate association of this film with the time it was made, rather than the time it so prettily (and superficially) attempts to evoke. And with the distance of the 1930s from the 1970s fairly the same as the 2010's from the 70s, I'd say 70s nostalgia is enough of a reason to harbor fond memories of this imperfect but perfectly enjoyable film.
      Thank you for being a delightful late attendee at this particular Gatsby party!

  9. Hi Ken, in this post's magazine covers caption, you seemed to confuse Theadora Van Runkle with Theoni V. Aldredge. Given their similar names and period pieces in their filmographies, it's definitely an honest mistake.

    Speaking of Aldredge, 1982's "Annie" is similar to this film in its massive budget and the ensuing merchandising blitz before release, one that in cultural hindsight seemed to only be outdone first by "Star Wars" (in Gatsby's case anyway) and 1989's "Batman". Of course, this practice is standard now, whether they adhere to the film and its soul or not. That said, I like to think even "Annie" got its point and its center down pat better than "Gatsby".

    1. Hello Chick!
      Oh, gosh...thanks so much for catching that error (which has been corrected) And indeed, those two exotic "T" names in '70s costume design I do often confuse for one another! Good eye!

      And you're right, these merchandising campaigns are such an integral part a movie's "sell" in some instances they are far more clever than the films. I think a lighthearted musical and children's movie like "Annie" better lends itself to On-point merchandising (toys and the like) than the kind of stretching they had to do with Gatsby, which is essentially a tragedy sold as a great romance. I remember the blitz for "Batman"! It was unavoidable!
      Thanks again for helping to keep my blog as accurate as I try to make it. All these one else ever noticed that (or just failed to alert me!)

    2. No problem! I can only laugh at that "Gatsby" Corelle dinnerware now.

  10. Strange.I always loved Mia farrow in that film, I think she is by far the best of the cast, with the exception of bruce dern.She delivers a very complex and difficult performance masterfully. She looks rich, beautiful to look at, spoiled, cunning, shallow, neurotic and her voice really is full of money. She reminds me of the parisian heiresses I knew in my youth, fascinating, sexy and subtly depraved, yet unattainable and unpunished.I supposed it is all a matter of taste. I always found Mia farrow one of the most beautiful actresses ever

    1. That's exactly what it is, a matter of taste. Someone finding a lack, a difference, or alternate appeal to a film is never indicative of a of an objective truth, merely a subjective impression personal taste. More reflective of the individual themselves (what they bring to the film, what they like, their aesthetics) than of the film itself.
      People who dislike aspects of "The Great Gatsby" are no more correct or incorrect in their assessment than those who like it.
      Glad to hear Mia Farrow's performance resonated with you.

  11. Hi Ken. Since I saw this a couple years ago, I'll distill my thoughts in short form:

    Since I live in Canada, we were never tasked with reading the book in high school, but the movie felt like it was the most literal interpretation of the text possible.

    Farrow definitely looks the part of Daisy, but from the first minute we see her she already seems like she's fragile and on edge, not really trying to put on a strong front.

    Lois Chiles gets some grief for her acting in this era, but I thought she was fine as Jordan, seeing how comparatively detached and cool her character was.

    I didn't really have a problem with Karen Black's performance either (of course a gal like her would revel in material things with Tom paying the tab), though she did really push it in that last bit before she broke her window.

    I LOVE Sam Waterston from all my "Law & Order" watching. Between this, "Friendly Fire", and "The Killing Fields", I've long thought he had quite a niche at one time playing sideline scribes to the main drama.

    I like Redford as much as the next guy, but Gatsby requires a degree of splendor and oozing charisma that his easygoing self just doesn't have (much less deliver here).

    Seeing Roberts Blossom as Gatsby's father was an interesting film parallel for me, since most people my generation know him best as Old Man Marley from "Home Alone", who in the end was reunited with his estranged son.

    1. Hi Chick!
      Again, a very enjoyable, insightful peek into your memories of this particular GATSBY. Most of the people I've spoken to about the film approach heir response to it in ways similar to your comment: that is, aspect of the film (both good and bad) stick out for them.
      I don't know that I've ever known anyone moved by the film's romanticism or stirred by its theme of the privileged classes shielded by their money while leaving disaster in their wake (my dad comes to mind, though, he really got worked up over Daisy and Tom's self-centeredness).
      Like you, I'm a big fan of Sam Waterston, and time has softened my opinion of both Karen Black's and Lois Chiles' performances.
      And thanks for the info about Gatsby's dad...had no idea of the HOME ALONE connection. Thanks for reading and commenting!

    2. Hi again Ken.

      I don't think the film's romanticism or darker themes were that badly done, but perhaps its pacing is to blame, since that can make an audience forget about the good things as they're watching it.

      I recently re-watched "For Your Eyes Only", since it has its fair share of fans and some great things about it, but its second act badly drags. If things with "Gatsby" were tightened up a bit (similar to the editing when Tom sees Myrtle's body and is shocked), then perhaps its better elements would stand out more.

    3. Good point. Pacing is definitely an issue I think. For me, while I'm able to enjoy the narrative of the film (its one of my favorite books) my problem with the film is that its treatment/depiction of the era is so at a remove ---like looking at a really opulent coffee table book of the 1930s--that I never lose myself in it to actually feel anything(even revulsion) for the characters. Romance wise, it's hard to ever imagine Daisy and Gatsby wrinkling their clothes long enough to have an affair!

  12. I wonder if Warren Beatty was ever considered. The comic diffidence he brought to every role might have gotten in the way, but Jay Gatsby has some things in common with Bugsy Siegel and that part was arguably the best performance of his career. Mia Farrow was a little too wispy and mannered, but okay as far as I was concerned. Maybe Susannah York as Daisy? I never saw that movie she did with Beatty in the 60's, so maybe they had no chemistry in that one. I think York was the only leading lady of his career he didn't sleep with.

    1. Apparently when Ali MacGraw was still to be Evans' Gatsby, Beatty was considered for everything. He was vetoed for being "too pretty"...especially since MacGraw was pushing for Steve McQueen. And we all know how that turned out.
      I love Susannah York, and she would have brought some interesting things to Daisy, but not likely with Beatty as Gatsby. They sort of fizzle as a pair in "Kaleidoscope."