THE GREAT GATSBY (1974)
Directed by Britisher Jack Clayton. F.Scott Fitzgerald's moody novel of the 1920's jazz age was adapted by Francis Ford Coppola, given sumptuous visuals by Brit cinematographer Douglas Slocombe and Brit designer John Box .Cast is very interesting, comprises Robert Redford ( too much of a one-note Gatsby), Mia Farrow ( a vague Daisy Buchanan), Bruce Dern ( a disgusting Tom Buchanan) , Sam Waterston ( a homely, unsmiling chorus as Nick Carraway) , Lois Chiles (Jordan Baker, Nick's friend), Howard Da Silva (Meyer Wolfsheim), and others.
When this adaptation came out it was negatively received and became a fiasco. Opinions ought to be revised upwards. The film is quite faithful to the book but it has a number of irritating qualities. Its 144 minutes are too protracted; the tempo is slow; the pregnant silences are overdone; many shots are drawn-out and much dialogue, or rather speeches, as mostly people speak solo even when two are involved. Hardly any of this speech has a natural rhythm. The sound is dubbed, too much so. It has the echoey quality which is excellent when it stresses the vastness of Gatsby's house, but then this spreads to other sounds and speeches. There's an overdone moody solemnity about the picture.
At the same time, the film has fine moments and a great deal of touching melancholy and Fitzgeraldian disenchantment. Flaws notwithstanding, the actors are affecting. Nelson Riddle contributes a wonderful 20's score with mood-enhancing songs (sometimes also too artsily slowed-down) like "What'll I do?", "When You and I were 17," or "Every Morning, Every Evening." Seen with commercials, this movie is endless. But without them, it is, on balance, very much worth watching or taping. (Edwin Jahiel)
Copyright © Edwin Jahiel
Movie Reviews by Edwin Jahiel