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Saturday, July 23, 2016

The Great Gatsby (1974)

Set in 1922, a mysterious but wealthy stranger (Robert Redford) has recently moved into a large mansion on Long Island where his presence has caused rumors and speculation. His ambiguous past aside, his mission is to reclaim the beauty (Mia Farrow) that he lost years ago to a rich playboy (Bruce Dern). Based on the F. Scott Fitzgerald jazz age classic, GATSBY has seen at least six adaptations to film and TV and none of them have got it right. Directed by Jack Clayton (ROOM AT THE TOP) from a screenplay by Francis Ford Coppola, the emphasis is on the visuals and the sumptuous art direction and gorgeous costumes (not unlike Baz Luhrmann's recent adaptation) overwhelm Fitzgerald's lean story. Coppola's script is actually pretty good so I place the blame on Clayton's misconception of the story and some severe miscasting. Redford is all wrong for Gatsby, he's too "to the manor born" and would have made a good Tom Buchanan. Similarly Bruce Dern is all wrong for Tom, there's a coarseness about him that would have suited Gatsby. Farrow is physically perfect for Daisy but there's a neuroticism in her acting that's an ill fit for Daisy. Only Sam Waterston as Nick and Lois Chiles as Jordan seem to have come from the pages of the book. With Karen Black (whose performance is bizarre), Scott Wilson, Howard Da Silva, Edward Herrmann, Roberts Blossom, Brooke Adams and Patsy Kensit.   

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