The Great Gatsby
THE GREAT GATSBY (PG)
D: Jack Clayton
Paramount/Newdon (David Merrick)
US 🇺🇸 1974
W: Francis Ford Coppola [based on the novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald]
DP: Douglas Slocombe
Ed: Tom Priestley
PD: John Box
Cos: Theoni V. Aldredge
Robert Redford (Jay Gatsby), Mia Farrow (Daisy Buchanan), Bruce Dern (Tom Buchanan), Sam Waterston (Nick Carraway), Karen Black (Myrtle Wilson), Scott Wilson (George Wilson), Lois Chiles (Jordan Baker)
Based on one of the literary classics of the 20th Century, The Great Gatsby is a multi-layered drama which is very much driven by characterisation and back story, told from the point of view of a side character, rather than the main protagonists.
Set in the Roaring Twenties, Nick Carraway visits his cousin, Daisy, in the well-to-do fictional town of East Egg, New York, where she lives in a mansion and a joyless marriage with her husband, Tom, who is having an affair with the wife of a local mechanic.
Across the bay, in West Egg, billionaire Jay Gatsby throws lavish parties, hoping that Daisy (his ex flame) will attend.
It unfolds that Gatsby is from a poor background, which he believes is why it never worked between himself and Daisy, and it's hinted that he made his fortune via illegitimate gambling on the 1919 World Series (infamously thrown by the Chicago White Sox). Due to this, he never earns the respect of Tom, who considers him a profiteer of dirty money.
Though an affair between Daisy and Jay does transpire, tragedy separates them and she goes back to her life with Tom.
At 146 minutes, the film does suffer from a rather slow narrative which probably wouldn't matter to those who have read the book (which I haven't), but the film really is quite beautiful to look at, with some exquisite cinematography, opulent set designs and gorgeous costume designs. The acting cannot be faulted either, and despite his age at the time of production, Robert Redford was a good choice to play the suave Gatsby and Mia Farrow is a perfect Daisy.
Though I've yet to read Fitzgerald's novel at the time of writing this review, this adaptation has convinced me that I really ought to.