Baz Luhrman's new version of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s "The Great Gatsby" runs 142 minutes.
Jack Clayton's 1974 filmization of the same material runs 144 minutes.
Baz Luhrman's "Gatsby" is breathlessly being ushered to the screen as a Big Event, replete with 3-D and gorgeous Leo as Jay Gatz.
Jack Clayton's "Gatsby," I hasten to note, was an even bigger deal nearly 40 years ago, replete with a Francis Ford Coppola script and beautiful couple Robert Redford and Mia Farrow in the leads. Even more gorgeous.
Fact is, Clayton's "Gatsby" was the first to be sold as a modern movie event, predating "Jaws" by one year and the “Star Wars” assault by three
years. (The Spielberg and Lucas films would simply up the ante.)
Time magazine devoted a 1974 cover story on the over-the-top hype that preceded and accompanied the opening of Clayton's film, and Farrow, as Daisy,
graced the cover of the very first edition of People magazine.
This was all part of the overwhelming
“Gatsby” marketing blitz which not only distracted from the many merits of the movie but also brought out the venom of critics - hence,
the glib Canby dismissal ("as lifeless as a body that's been too long at the bottom of a swimming pool") that's been invoked in seemingly every New York Times article promoting the new version. Me? I rather like and admire the Coppola-Cayton version.
He says defiantly.
Back in '74, Robert Evans, the marketing Svengali behind Clayton's film, was quoted in the Time piece saying, "The making of a blockbuster is the newest art form of the 20th century." Being interviewed for the new version of "Gatsby," Evans steps back, warning about about the temptation to “overcommercialize and overpublicize” the Fitzgerald source material ,
And he's correct but that's certainly what he did 40-plus years ago.
So, the only real point of Luhrman's remake is that very little has changed in the movie industry. Except for its taste in music.
For his version, Luhrman elected to, well, baz things up by bringing in Shawn 'Jay Z' Carter to add some anachronistic background songs.
Clayton? He had the actor William Atherton croon Irving Berlin's wrenching "What'll I Do?" over the main credits. Much preferable.