The Great Gatsby (1974)

Genres - Drama, Romance  |   Sub-Genres - Americana, Period Film, Romantic Drama  |   Run Time - 144 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - PG
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Review by Lucia Bozzola

Scripted by one of the top writer/directors of the early '70s and starring the period's hottest leading man, The Great Gatsby was supposed to be the prestige production of the year. Its flaws, however, turned it into a glossy disappointment. With its luxurious period costumes, meticulously rich settings and props, and a cast who all looked the part, this version of The Great Gatsby had all of the surface elements seductively in place. Francis Ford Coppola's screenplay also stuck closely to the novel, transforming some of F. Scott Fitzgerald's most iconic observations about the classes into dialogue. Additional scenes between Jay Gatsby and his beloved Daisy capitalized on Robert Redford's romantic allure. Director Jack Clayton's sluggish pacing, however, made the film a stilted literary artifact rather than an emotionally complex story. Though Sam Waterston's Nick, Karen Black's Myrtle, and Lois Chiles' Jordan were lauded for capturing the nuances of Fitzgerald's characters, Mia Farrow's Daisy, Bruce Dern's Tom, and Redford's Gatsby attracted a mixed response. Still, as one writer noted decades later, Redford was the only actor to successfully suggest Jay's contradictory, endlessly optimistic nature, rendering him the best Gatsby to date even as the film around him missed greatness.