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A few words about...™ The Great Gatsby (1974) -- in Blu-ray


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#1 of 19 OFFLINE   Robert Harris

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Posted July 12 2013 - 01:18 PM

I've always like this film.  Reviews at the time, didn't treat it particularly well, but I like it regardless.  Is the book better?

 

Yes.

 

Published in 1925, the book is a masterful tome, that not only stands the test of time, but invites new readership.

 

From the website of The Manhattan Rare Book Company:

 

[color=rgb(113,113,113);font-family:Verdana, Arial, Helvetica;font-size:13px;]In 1925, "Scribners published The Great Gatsby, the novel that secured Fitzgerald's enduring fame. He had reached his full maturity as a writer. The work is often described in terms of a meditation or vision of America because of its judicious use of myth, metaphor, and history. When Fitzgerald was first thinking about his third novel in July 1922, he wrote Perkins that he wanted 'to write something new--something extraordinary and beautiful and simple [and] intricately patterned' (qtd. in Bruccoli, Grandeur, p. 170). He knew that he was working near his peak--his artistic conscience was pure during the ten months of writing Gatsby. In April 1924 he wrote to Perkins from Great Neck, Long Island, 'I feel I have an enormous power in me now, more than I've ever had in a way. . . . This book will be a consciously artistic achievement and must depend on that as the first books did not' (Turnbull, Letters, p. 163)" (American National Biography). [/color]

 

[color=rgb(113,113,113);font-family:Verdana, Arial, Helvetica;font-size:13px;]- See more at: http://www.manhattan...h.U65cbW58.dpuf[/color]

 

The book has been brought to cinema several times.  First in 1926, also by Paramount, starring Warner Baxter, Lois Wilson, Neil Hamilton, Georgia Hale and William Powell.  Later in 1949, as a vehicle for Alan Ladd, Betty Field, and a superb cast.  And most recently by Baz Luhrmann in 3D.

 

Paramount has prepared a gorgeous master for WB, and the resultant Blu-ray is not only drop-dead gorgeous, but technically perfect.

 

Shot both in the UK and the US, the imagery as captured on the Blu-ray beautifully replicates the information held on the original elements.

 

And it better, as top talent created the film.

 

 

Take a look at the production credits of the 1974 version, and you'll quickly realize why this film looks as incredible as it does.

 

Jack Clayton directed from a screenplay by Francis Ford Coppola.  David Merrick produced.  

 

Cinematography was  by the great Douglas Slocombe, probably best known on this side of the Atlantic for the Indiana Jones films.  Mr. Slocombe turned 100 in February!  Production design by John Box.  

Anyone unfamiliar with Mr. Box's credits needs to do a bit of research.

 

Currently, under $15 on Amazon, with the new version waiting in the wings, and to be released on August 27.

 

A couple of final thoughts on the book, and by that I mean the thing of paper, ink and binding.

 

Apparently, the original is very hard to locate with its original dust jacket.  While a nice copy will run between five and eight thousand dollars, if you want to go to the beach with something really special, a clean copy with dust jacket begins at around $85,000, and can hit over $200,000.

 

Actually not a bad deal, considering a a nice original printing of the first Harry Potter will set you back around $30,000.

 

Just a suggestion.  If you go for it, and decide to take it to the beach, leave the dust jacket somewhere safe.

 

For those who might ask, I don't have a copy.

 

Image - 5

 

Audio - 5 (DTS-HD MA 5.1)

 

Highly Recommended.

 

RAH


"All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible. This I did." T.E. Lawrence


#2 of 19 OFFLINE   lukejosephchung

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Posted July 12 2013 - 01:40 PM

Agree with your overall assessment of this release, Robert...it's a beautifully-crafted film, even though the pacing and editing choices may not be everyone's cup of tea...I AM curious as to this year's Luhrmann remake and intend to get it when it comes out next month.



#3 of 19 OFFLINE   haineshisway

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Posted July 12 2013 - 05:11 PM

I talk about the book's value in my new mystery novel, Murder at the School Musical - the first chapter of the book takes place at an Antiquarian Book Fair. It's the Holy Grail for many collectors and copies in collector condition do run upwards of 200K these days.  I don't think anyone's actually buying at that price but that doesn't stop the dealers from charging it.  I also talk about the Harry Potter book - say, have you been reading Murder at the School Musical? You can find the Potter book in reasonable condition for about twenty thou if you know where to look and I know where to look as I am what I'd have to call a major collector of first editions.  I have some rather amazing things but sadly not these two particular books, although I have true firsts on all the other Potters from book two on. :)

 

As to the transfer, I raved about it on my site when it came out - a perfect transfer and I rather enjoyed the film, which I'd only seen snippets of.



#4 of 19 OFFLINE   WinstonCely

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Posted July 12 2013 - 05:34 PM

I used to love this version. I had seen it many times before I was required to read it in 8th grade.  I read the book in a few short hours, which is quicker than any book I've ever read.  It is still my hands down favorite book.

 

After going many many years without seeing this film, my wife (who had not seen it, but just read the book) and I decided to watch it.  What a disappointment, and I have to say it mostly lies in the Mia Farrow's portrayal of Daisy.  Watching it now, there is nothing in her character that makes me believe that Gatsby would or ever did love this woman, and this makes me constantly wonder what the hell Gatsby sees in this obviously shallow, thin, two dimensional character.  (Actually, as I write this, it kinda reminds me of Say Anything... - what the hell does Lloyd see in Ione, anyway?!?)  Anyway, I think some of this may be because the script shot is not the script written.  From what I understand Coppola all but disowned it, and I tend to believe that the script he wrote would have met more of my expectations now, as he wrote it at a time where he was on a particularly big roll for writing.

 

Anyway, it's not that I think the film is bad, but other than the secondary characters, which I have much more feeling for in this film, I don't really ever have a desire to watch it again.

 

Good to hear it got a good transfer finally!  I always knew it must look better than what I would see on VHS and DVD.



#5 of 19 OFFLINE   Matt Hough

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Posted July 12 2013 - 06:14 PM

I think the supporting cast members (Black, Wilson, Waterston) are stronger than the two leads (Farrow, Redford), but it's certainly an enjoyable film.



#6 of 19 OFFLINE   rsmithjr

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Posted July 12 2013 - 08:13 PM

This is my favorite novel (how many can say that? Quite a few apparently.)  I have always liked the 74 version in many ways, but I think it is somewhat too melancholy to really work. 

 

This is probably accentuated by the musical supervision of Nelson Riddle, whose best work is melancholy and quite ironic.  For example, the "Wee Small Hours" Sinatra album.  Riddle won an Oscar for his work, and it is a masterful score, but it sets the wrong tone.

 

I think the new Baz Luhrmann production does a better job of capturing the exuberance of the era and also the character of Gatsby.  Redford's Gatsby has a tentativeness throughout the film that never gives us insight into what he really is.  De Caprio's interpretation explodes with his enthusiasm and over-the-top fixation on Daisy combined with the revelation of his fraudulent past. 



#7 of 19 OFFLINE   Robin9

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Posted July 13 2013 - 01:42 AM

. . .  and I decided to watch it.  What a disappointment, and I have to say it mostly lies in the Mia Farrow's portrayal of Daisy.  Watching it now, there is nothing in her character that makes me believe that Gatsby would or ever did love this woman, and this makes me constantly wonder what the hell Gatsby sees in this obviously shallow, thin, two dimensional character. 

 

We all have favorite actors and actresses . . and those we cannot stand at any price. For me Mia Farrow has always been a total non-event on the screen, and for that reason I have always avoided this film. RAH's assessment of the disc might persuade me to give it a try.

 

I hope that one day someone with a hard head, cold blood and a good detective skills will write a thorough biography of Mia Farrow. 



#8 of 19 OFFLINE   WinstonCely

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Posted July 13 2013 - 03:21 AM

This is my favorite novel (how many can say that? Quite a few apparently.)  I have always liked the 74 version in many ways, but I think it is somewhat too melancholy to really work. 

 

This is probably accentuated by the musical supervision of Nelson Riddle, whose best work is melancholy and quite ironic.  For example, the "Wee Small Hours" Sinatra album.  Riddle won an Oscar for his work, and it is a masterful score, but it sets the wrong tone.

 

I think the new Baz Luhrmann production does a better job of capturing the exuberance of the era and also the character of Gatsby.  Redford's Gatsby has a tentativeness throughout the film that never gives us insight into what he really is.  De Caprio's interpretation explodes with his enthusiasm and over-the-top fixation on Daisy combined with the revelation of his fraudulent past. 

I think you've just convinced me to give the new version a try.



#9 of 19 OFFLINE   Richard--W

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Posted July 14 2013 - 09:30 AM

I used to love this version. I had seen it many times before I was required to read it in 8th grade.  I read the book in a few short hours, which is quicker than any book I've ever read.  It is still my hands down favorite book.

 

After going many many years without seeing this film, my wife (who had not seen it, but just read the book) and I decided to watch it.  What a disappointment, and I have to say it mostly lies in the Mia Farrow's portrayal of Daisy.  Watching it now, there is nothing in her character that makes me believe that Gatsby would or ever did love this woman, and this makes me constantly wonder what the hell Gatsby sees in this obviously shallow, thin, two dimensional character.  (Actually, as I write this, it kinda reminds me of Say Anything... - what the hell does Lloyd see in Ione, anyway?!?)  Anyway, I think some of this may be because the script shot is not the script written.  From what I understand Coppola all but disowned it, and I tend to believe that the script he wrote would have met more of my expectations now, as he wrote it at a time where he was on a particularly big roll for writing.

 

Anyway, it's not that I think the film is bad, but other than the secondary characters, which I have much more feeling for in this film, I don't really ever have a desire to watch it again.

 

Good to hear it got a good transfer finally!  I always knew it must look better than what I would see on VHS and DVD.

 

 

Didn't Francis Ford Coppola say at the time he would have cast Bruce Dern as Gatsby and Redford as Tom Buchanan? That would have changed the emotional dynamic considerably. He didn't say who he'd cast as Daisy, but the part needs a more ebullient personality than Mia Farrow. I enjoy her work in other things, but I must agree with Robin9 that the problem with this film rests on Mia Farrow. Her performance is a ship-sinker. She is in over her head and getting no help from the director. She gives Redford nothing to yearn for and Dern nothing to want to hold onto. If memory serves -- and I haven't seen the film since the 1970s -- her first line of dialogue is "Is this absolutely where I am?" One can tell by the way she delivers the line that she's not there. Visually the film is a pleasure to watch.

 

I thought the made-for-cable 2000 version, produced by the British and starring Mira Sorvino as Daisy and Toby Stephens as Gatsby, hit the mark dramatically.



#10 of 19 OFFLINE   Will Krupp

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Posted July 16 2013 - 06:04 AM

But isn't the POINT of Daisy (in the novel as well) that the reality of her does not nearly come close to the idealized regard in which Jay holds her?  She IS a two-dimensional, shallow, vapid, stupid, selfish and, ultimately awful woman with no character and that's how Farrow plays her.  Even in the novel she is not worth all of the trouble, expense, and general sturm and drang that surrounds her but Gatsby is caught up in the IDEA of her and what she represents.

 

Considering Jay and Daisy's courtship mimics the early courtship of the Fitzgerald's, all I can say is I don't wonder why Zelda drank after reading THIS!

 

Maybe I'm just biased because I find Mia Farrow endlessly fascinating (different strokes, I know.)  It's Karen Black that irritates me in this because she feels the need to hit us over the head with Myrtle's "illusions" as though she's terrified we won't be in on the joke.

 

I always say that, as a movie in general, this is just mediocre and as an adaptation of Fitzgerald it's even less than that BUT (and the BUT is everything to me) as a prime example of an all star over-produced 1970's "event" movie it's absolutely perfect and I've enjoyed it many times over the years.



#11 of 19 OFFLINE   Cineman

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Posted July 16 2013 - 07:12 AM

But isn't the POINT of Daisy (in the novel as well) that the reality of her does not nearly come close to the idealized regard in which Jay holds her?  She IS a two-dimensional, shallow, vapid, stupid, selfish and, ultimately awful woman with no character and that's how Farrow plays her.  Even in the novel she is not worth all of the trouble, expense, and general sturm and drang that surrounds her but Gatsby is caught up in the IDEA of her and what she represents.

 

 

That is the way I always understood the book and Farrow's portrayal of Daisy in the movie. If Daisy had actually been portrayed as a worthy goal, the embodiment of a genuine American Dream, well, that would have been quite the opposite of what Fitzgerald was trying to say imo. And I don't think this awareness on our part of her as unworthy of Gatsby's laser focused obsession is meant to be "discovered" or unexpectedly revealed after having been fooled into identifying with him during the earlier portion of the story. I think we were meant to peg her shallow, selfish and inconsequential nature almost on first sight and sound of her. From that moment on we are free to evaluate Gatsby properly as on the wrong track in wasting so much of his life trying to achieve her rather than rooting for him to do so.



#12 of 19 OFFLINE   Richard--W

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Posted July 16 2013 - 12:16 PM

Your interpretation of the character in the book is right on the money. There has to be a certain sense of despair or something underneath that flightiness or it isn't flightiness. But Mia Farrow isn't in character. She never finds Daisy's voice or presence. She has one note, and sticks with it. It is a famously bad performance. So bad it was noted everywhere at the time. As I said, I like Mia Farrow very much in other films. In the realm of "what if," I can see her mother, Maureen O'Sullivan playing the part in the 1930s. She played a few characters not unlike Daisy. Listen to the way she delivers the line "I'm about to make my first false step" in THE THIN MAN (1932). O'Sullivan had the chops and the ebullience to pull of a Daisy Buchanan. Mia didn't.



#13 of 19 OFFLINE   Tom Logan

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Posted July 16 2013 - 04:20 PM

I think any film adaptation of Gatsby has to find a way to show us Daisy as Nick sees her, which is shallow, lovely, amoral, selfish, but with a voice like a "deathless song."  At moments, she has to be enchanting.  She also has to be vapid.  Farrow captured only the latter, IMHO.



#14 of 19 OFFLINE   Will Krupp

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Posted July 16 2013 - 06:39 PM

I think any film adaptation of Gatsby has to find a way to show us Daisy as Nick sees her, which is shallow, lovely, amoral, selfish, but with a voice like a "deathless song."  At moments, she has to be enchanting.  She also has to be vapid.  Farrow captured only the latter, IMHO.

 

You bring up a good point and have hit the nail squarely on the head as to why any film adaptation of GATSBY has a very long road to hoe.  Film is such a literal and objective medium that we can easily forget while watching it that the whole story is filtered through the eyes, perspective and prejudices of Nick.  He's recounting the novel to us after the events have unfolded and with a foreknowledge of the outcome that we lack. 

 

I think it's incredibly difficult for a movie to successfully maintain a subjective voice with specifically TELLING the audience (as in RASHOMON) that we are seeing a subjective account.  Even a masterpiece like SUNSET BOULEVARD only works in the subjective because what Joe Gillis is TELLING us doesn't square up with what we are SEEING (which is kind of a fudge but it works and let's us see what a parasitic skunk Gillis really is.)

 

I don't know how a GATSBY adaptation gets around that.  The trouble is the novel READS like a movie which makes it something of a "Devil's Candy" for filmmakers who will, no doubt, continue to try.



#15 of 19 OFFLINE   Richard--W

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Posted July 16 2013 - 07:47 PM

Take a look at how Mira Sorvinia plays Daisy Buchanan. She's no slouch as an actress. In fact do watch the 2000 version on DVD. Some discerning dramatists made that film.



#16 of 19 OFFLINE   EnricoE

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Posted July 17 2013 - 10:34 PM

so, no points taken away of the audio-rating for the missing mono mix? it was on the dvd, but now it was dropped. thanks warner :angry:



#17 of 19 OFFLINE   lukejosephchung

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Posted July 18 2013 - 11:03 AM

so, no points taken away of the audio-rating for the missing mono mix? it was on the dvd, but now it was dropped. thanks warner :angry:

You have a problem with the missing mono track, take it up with the film's actual studio, Paramount...Warner's merely distributing the title for them and have to accept whatever Paramount gives them for release...



#18 of 19 OFFLINE   Will Krupp

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Posted July 18 2013 - 12:34 PM

On an unrelated note, thanks to some crafty subliminal advertising (!) I felt the overwhelming urge to buy  the kindle version of MURDER AT THE HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL this morning.  Looks like a lot of fun, I can't wait!



#19 of 19 OFFLINE   haineshisway

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Posted July 18 2013 - 01:56 PM

On an unrelated note, thanks to some crafty subliminal advertising (!) I felt the overwhelming urge to buy  the kindle version of MURDER AT THE HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL this morning.  Looks like a lot of fun, I can't wait!

:)






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