How to Make a Good 'Great Gatsby' Movie: A Guide for Baz Luhrmann

More
GreatGatsbyblackandwhite.jpg

Paramount

1949: Gatsby with sound

In 1949, the first Gatsby adaption with sound was released by Paramount, with Betty Field as Daisy and Alan Ladd as Gatsby. But that movie hardly resembled the novel. Here, as in later versions, Fitzgerald's thematically-complex narrative was reduced to a Romeo and Juliet love affair. As the New York Times wrote when the film came out, "[W]ith particular emphasis upon the aspects of the sentimental romance... most of the tragic implications and bitter ironies of Mr. Fitzgerald's work have gone by the board in allowing for the generous exhibition of Mr. Ladd.". Critics noted that Field was miscast—too self-assured and strong for Daisy—and that the ironically upbeat '20s vibe of the book had been replaced with an oddly dark, noir-like mood. Gatsby's bootlegging, much as it would be in the later two films, was also exaggerated for dramatic effect, so that he looks more like a gangster than the nonviolent character of the book. In short, Fitzgerald's work was remolded to fit what was popular at the time.

Jump to comments
Presented by

Adam Eaglin is a New York-based writer and editor. He previously worked in The Atlantic's Boston office.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

The Time JFK Called the Air Force to Complain About a 'Silly Bastard'

51 years ago, President John F. Kennedy made a very angry phone call.


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.

Video

What Makes a Story Great?

The storytellers behind House of CardsandThis American Life reflect on the creative process.

Video

Tracing Sriracha's Origin to Thailand

Ever wonder how the wildly popular hot sauce got its name? It all started in Si Racha.

Video

Where Confiscated Wildlife Ends Up

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.

Video

Is Wine Healthy?

James Hamblin prepares to impress his date with knowledge about the health benefits of wine.

Video

The World's Largest Balloon Festival

Nine days, more than 700 balloons, and a whole lot of hot air

Writers

Up
Down

More in Entertainment

Just In