Baz Luhrmann’s adapation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel boomed in the Box Office this weekend, opening with a cool $51 Million Dollars. However, there was an (in Gatsby terms) Older Sport that took audiences by store and that was the Jack Clayton 1974 version of “Gatsby”. Though the film is visually appealing to watch (with great production value and gorgeous leading stars), it lacked a certain quality to consider it an absolute cinema gem. I will admit it is hard to deny Robert Redford and Mia Farrow (even if their performances have seen better days) in a romantic costume drama and the adaptation of what I consider to be the greatest American novel ever written. In preparation to for the 2013 version, I want to look back at this 1974 somewhat-classic before fully reviewing the new Leo-Baz version.
The Story of the Roaring 20s. For those of you haven’t seen the 1949 film noir version, this 1974 Jack Clayton film or read F. Scott Fitzgerald’s immortal novel, “The Great Gatsby” plays out the same tale. Set in the back drop of high society and the party scene of the 1920s, the story paints the tale of America during a time of bootleggers, champagne and jazz. It explores one of the greatest periods in the culture of the US while giving us luscious imagery and a great story to boot. We see everything through the eyes of Nick Carraway (Sam Waterston) who moves near the mansion of the mysterious Jay Gatsby (Robert Reford) who throws one hellova’ party every night, without ever being seen. As Gatsby’s motive of party throwing unravels, we meet the elegant Daisy Buchanan (Mia Farrow), the wife of millionaire Tom Buchanan (Bruce Dern). Daisy is compelled to Gatsby, as we find out that she was apparently his old sweetheart back before the war began. As they begin to reconnect with the help of Carraway, Gatsby and Daisy find ways to rekindle their romance behind the back of her hot-tempered husband.
Mia Farrow is a daisy. Mia Farrow plays Daisy Buchanan in a film role that fits her beauty tremendously. Despite being pregnant during the filming of the “The Great Gatsby”, Jack Clayton uses numerous closeups to hide her booming figure. Though not much is taken away by the audience with Farrow’s performance, it surely is a fact that Mia Farrow was one budding flower as she portrayed Daisy in the film. Taken straight out of the 1920s, Farrow gives us just the right amount of Daisy but lacks a little bit of development in her character. We excuse Mia, for being the epitome of 1920s beauty.
Supporting Players. Picture above is Sam Waterston as Nick Carraway and Lois Chiles as Daisy’s nosy best friend Jordan Baker. Fitzgerald writes his supporting players very well, but they seemed to have come off bland in Jack Clayton’s movie adaptation of the novel. Francis Ford Coppola wrote the screenplay, but lifted numerous lines directly from the book. Though Chiles is a bit more memorable then Waterston (despite having much more screen time then her) she may be blown out of the water by the new actress playing Jordan in Luhrmann’s film. I’ve been hearing that she’s been stealing the show. Will Maguire’s Nick Carraway be more memorable then Waterston?
One of the Greatest Romances of the 21st Century. The romance between Daisy and Gatsby is possibly one of the most complex romances that were ever written in the 21st century. Though they still had the “ideal” factor written in then, how can we deny that almost all couples have that factor as well? Sadly, the chemistry between Robert Redford and Mia Farrow were a bit lacking in the motion picture. The film boasts a classic love story that ends in pure tragedy, but wasn’t executed admirably because of the wrong director. It sad to admit that their acting gets by because of their good looks. Though not a critical success, the film still earned a whopping $26M as compared to its budget of $6M dollars in 1974, and two Academy Award wins for Best Costume and the now-nonexsistent Best Adapted Score.
Jay, The Great Gatsby. Because of Robert Redford’s unbelievable star power at the time and subtle boyish persona he had in the silver screen, casting him as Gatsby seemed like the perfect idea at the time. Every woman was in love with him in the 70s and every man wanted to be him. The sad fact is, Redford may have been good looking, but his Gatsby is bland all together. He offered the silver screen with nothing but a good face in this one. It surprising cause Redford is such a talented actor (he was their Brad Pitt) but unfortunately wasn’t able to fully give us his full potential as the eccentric billionaire. Robert Redford stills stays as one of my favourite actors, but the soul and greatness of Jay Gatsby was not in him. Will Leo deliver?
Coming up in “Gatsby Mania” this week in Chinomatography:
1. The film’s of Baz Luhrmann
2. Tribute to Leonardo DiCaprio
3. Full Review of “The Great Gatsby” (2013)