The Great Gatsby 1949
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Ladd's version is, in my judgment, the best of the three, because it was shot in black-and-white as a film noir, and because Ladd gives the perfect performance as the polished gangster (which barely comes out in either the Redford or DeCaprio version--you know by association that DeCaprio is a gangster, but he does not demonstrate gangster features.). Ladd, though polished in his carriage, does gangster-like stuff himself, like knocking out the guy from his past, Reba, who crashes his party and calls Gatsby "Gatz" (his real name from his poverty-stricken Dakotas past) in front of his guests and friends.
So I have no idea why this film has such a low rating. Alan Ladd was one of America's best actors in the forties and fifties, and anyone who does not believe it should watch "Shane", which has been shown for decades to high-schoolers attempting capture the complexity of the book by that name and its central character. Ladd's performance in Gatsby is at least as good as his performance in "Shane".
The problem is not Ladd, it is the rest of the film. The central character of Daisy is not well played and it is hard to see anyone throwing their life away on this woman. Some of the other characters are wooden and their interpretation is often stiff. The actor who plays Tom Buchanan just looks wrong. He should be a massive footballer, he looks like a tall thread of a man.
The art direction is very good and the scenes with Ladd looking over the water at the East Egg building of Buchanan is very strong. I have no idea why this film is not on video,but Paramount seems a little slow in releasing their films for some reason.
Black & White versus color differences give the 1949 version more dramatic impact and less beauty than the 1974 version. The plot is more explicitly stated and complete in the 1949 version, favoring viewers who want to know what is going on at all times. The plot has more omissions, key information stated in a whisper or delayed revelations in the 1974 version, favoring those who want to be mystified for a time, with revelations falling together late. The 1949 acting reveals people more like they probably were in the 1920s, with the loud staccato male voices and with rottenness selectively revealed as characteristics of individuals. The 1974 acting reveals smoother, less forceful behavior patterns in men living farther the 1920s and rottenness distributed widely as an almost universal characteristic.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is one of my very favorite movies. However, my dvd starts out beautifully, but half way thru, it stops playing then the picture is broken up. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Rena Busby
product in good condition--not much in common with novel--interesting to see where film makers created scenes.Published 3 months ago by Shelley Crannell
Who would have guessed Ladd as Gatsby? But it works. Betty Field terrific as Daisy. A very simple compelling version of the story.Published 6 months ago by Amazon Customer
I have loved an Ladd movies since I was a girl. This movie is no exception. I loved itPublished 6 months ago by Amazon Customer
I like this movie even though it only loosely follows the book. The book's characters are for the most part consolidated or completely eliminated. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Anonymous
More than met my expectations. I love the older movies and the actors.Published 8 months ago by TCB N Memphis
I have never seen this film. the bad ending that has nothing to do with the book is a hoot . If you want a faithful treatment of the Fitzgerald classic study of the self-absorbed,... Read morePublished 8 months ago by Max Espinoza