The Great Gatsby (1974) Film Review B

The Great Gatsby
DIRECTOR: Jack Clayton
BOTTOM LINE: Produced by David Merrick and directed by Jack Clayton, from an adaptation by none other than Francis Ford Coppola, the third film version of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Jazz Age masterpiece (the first two were also at Paramount) stars Robert Redford as Gatsby and Mia Farrow as Daisy Buchanan. The film won two Oscars. One was for Theoni V. Aldredge’s striking costumes, which instituted a brief Gatsby fashion craze and beat out an astounding Best Costume Design lineup that year, including Anthea Sylbert for “Chinatown,” Theodora Van Runkle for “The Godfather Part II,” Tony Walton for “Murder on the Orient Express” and John Furness for “Daisy Miller.”
The second was for Nelson Riddle’s adapted score, which used the plaintive refrain from Irving Berlin’s 1923 song “What’ll I Do” to profound effect.
Both Nick Carraway (Sam Waterston) and Jordan Baker (Lois Chiles) are gay, and Waterston’s sensitive, almost asexual presence is the film’s greatest pleasure, mainly since he is the voice-over narrator (as he is in the book). Chiles’ Baker is also excellent, a woman who cannot believe in the astonishing freedom offered by a new decade to gay and straight women alike. She is a professional golfer and only wears slacks. She’s a proto-Kate Hepburn!
People were divided concerning Farrow’s Daisy. I loved her performance. I thought she made the perfect Daisy Buchanan. I found Redford’s Gatsby boring on first viewing, but I have warmed to him over the years.
Great support from Bruce Dern, Karen Black, and Scott Wilson.


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