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The Tentacle


May 17, 2013

F. Scott & “Gatsby”

Roy Meachum

F. Scott Fitzgerald was “HOT” before and after my time. I know two ladies who “adore” his writings on the Jazz Age, which he helped to name. They are respectively 25 and 50.

 

The author died in the second year I was at Holy Cross College; I did not read whatever coverage his passing earned in the Times-Picayune. When I went on to Georgetown, Steve Barabbas’ University Shop offered round collars, button-down shirts and three-button jackets that were modish during Mr. Fitzgerald’s Roaring Twenties. But the Jesuits’ curriculum didn’t include his works.

 

On my own, I read his books and short stories, but never until this week have I dipped into “The Great Gatsby.” I said I would on Bob Miller’s “Morning Express” (WFMDAM-980) last Friday in anticipation of reviewing this morning the latest movie version, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire and Carey Mulligan. I remember well the 1974 production, featuring Robert Redford, Sam Waterston and Mia Farrow; before she partnered with Woody Allen. For some reason, I wasn’t fascinated enough to read the slim novel, but then, it was prior to 1963 and my reviewing movies on TV9.

 

Readers will not be astonished that I loved the book and the movie. Baz Luhrman’s direction is no less than fantastic. The screen adaption contains F. Scott Fitzgerald’s dialogues, to the letter. But I had no sense of Daisy’s baby, until she appeared at the end. The actors are brilliant, conveying senses of time, location and the changing mores after World War I.

 

The narrative is spun by Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire). But the Internet (Filmtime) summation states Nick is “an aspiring writer,” which turns out to be untrue extremely. He’s ordered by a psychiatrist in the sanitarium where he is confined, for among other things, alcoholism. There is no trace of the disease earlier.

 

The cousin of Daisy Buchanan (Carey Mulligan) takes a Long Island cottage next to (Leonardo DiCaprio) Jay Gatsby’s palace, where there all sorts of big parties that Director Luhrman staged for the audiences’ benefit, complete with flappers, marvelous male and female costumes and black dancers and musicians; one looking like Cab Calloway.

 

But the book is filled with anti-“Negro” and anti-Semitic sentiments, which reflect the novelist’s prejudices. The Ku Klux Klan’s tyranny dominated most of the country during the Jazz Age. Screenwriter Luhrman’s production doesn’t reflect the roaring blind hatred that occupied the United States during The Roaring Twenties.

 

The crux of the story revolves around the affair Daisy and Gatsby had five years earlier. It doesn’t answer the question when she became pregnant with the baby. Major Gatsby was assigned to Oxford right after the war; she was desperate for him to come back. Maybe marrying rich Tom Buchanan when her true love stayed gone so long? Gatsby’s possession of the palace came after the Buchanans took a grand mansion across the bay. He moves in a scheming way.

 

F. Scott Fitzgerald composes poetry as prose; the story line blazes out a human tragedy, like the Greeks Aeschylus and Euripides, which the Minnesota man might have studied at Princeton.

 

Still, it’s a helluva story, a morality story for the 20th Century that still applies today. Either get the book or see the film, “The Great Gatsby.”

 

You’ll enjoy both – or either!!!

 



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