The Great Gatsby

I watched the (1974) movie last night. (There have been four movie versions of the book made. Query: What is the most movie versions of any single book ever made?)

My brief thoughts: Robert Redord and Sam Waterston were both quite good. In fact, they were good enough that, with the exceptions of Lois Chiles and Roberts Blossom, the rest of the cast must have wanted them fired, because everyone else looked so bad by comparison.

Perhaps the worst was Mia Farrow. I don't know that I had ever seen her act before, so I was rather surprised, since I had assumed, given her Woody Allen connection, that she could act. As Daisy, she was supposed to be a woman who could keep three men in orbit around her by her charm and seductiveness. Instead, she played a shrill and dopey waif who could not have kept .3 men in her thrall. That Gatsby would go to such lengths to win her was unbelievable.

Scott Wilson was also terrible as Mr. Wilson. The overacting when he goes to do you-know-what to you-know-who at the end could be placed on an overacting pedestal as a warning to future would-be over-acters. Karen Black looked like a hideous cartoon villain. Bruce Dern made Tom seem like a dumb thug, which I think is not quite what Fitzgerald had in mind.

But worst of all -- and perhaps the ultimate cause of the bad acting! -- was the directing of Jack Clayton. Clayton seemed intent on bashing me over the head with symbolism at every turn. Never, in any ten movies I've watched put together, have I seen so many things glinting and gleaming and sparkling. Oy vey, I get it, the sparkling light is a metaphor for the life Gatsby wants to seize. Enough already with the sparkling already! And the way the area around the gas station was depicted made it seem like someone had slipped footage from Mad Max into a film about the 1920s.

Is anyone familiar with any of the other film versions?


  1. Query: What is the most movie versions of any single book ever made?

    Turns out this is a more complicated question than it might first appear. For example, do TV movies count? Direct to video releases? What if the adaptation is rather loose (e.g. West Side Story for Romeo and Juliet, or 10 Things I Hate About You for Taming of the Shrew)? For that matter, do movies based on plays count, or is it only novels?

  2. Blackward, I'm happy with any information on any of those questions! (This was not a quiz, but a query: I was curious.)

  3. If I had to guess, I would say Hamlet. IMDB lists 72 different adaptations of Hamlet (just eyeballing it, around 20 of these are TV versions). Shakespeare has the advantage of being much older than TV and popular in many different languages. And Hamlet seems to be *the* Shakespeare play as far as adaptations go.

    But I would certainly be interested if someone else knows different!


  4. Anonymous3:16 PM

    A challenger appears.

    And it's none other than Jesus in the Bible. Ahem:

    Gospel According to St. Matthews
    The Last Temptation of Christ
    Jesus of Nazareth
    The Passion of Christ
    The Robe
    The Greatest Story Ever Told
    El mártir del Calvario
    El beso de Judas

    Too easy. That's at least 9 I found.

  5. According to IMDB there have been 72 adaptations of Hamlet (of which around 20 were for TV).

  6. Prateek, as I said, I'm just curious, and your list is a nice bit of information: I hadn't, in fact, been thinking of the Bible! But those movies don't really amount to a movie version of "a single book," do they? They are movie versions of different parts of a book. So, as Edward noted, the question is complicated!

  7. Alice in Wonderland!'s_Adventures_in_Wonderland#Cinema_and_television

  8. I hated Mia Farrow as Daisy so much that I threw away my DVD after watching it. After a second viewing I was able to watch past her, so to say. I still think she was a terrible choice.



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