David Dodd 10:32 a.m., May 25
Till Warner Bros. Cry, "Gatsby, Gold-Hatted, Thrice-Tanking Gatsby, We Must Reboot You!"
Hollywood is going to produce a successful remake of F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby if it kills us.
The Great Gatsby (1926)
Adapted from the Broadway production written by Owen Davis and directed by George Cukor (!), the first filmed version was signed by the relatively obscure Herbert Brenon. All that remains of this lost film is its trailer. Silent screen matinee idol Warner Baxter starred as Gatsby opposite Lois Wilson's Daisy. Neil 'Commissioner Gordon' Hamilton played Nick Carraway and William Powell (a Gatsby if ever there was one) appeared as George Wilson.
The Great Gatsby (1949)
Alan Ladd as Jay Gatsby?! That inanimate little runt? Suddenly Redford looks good.
Tyrone Power agreed to star in the title role only if Gene Tierney would play his Daisy. 20th Century Fox agreed to loan her out, but producers thought her beauty would act as a deterrent and the part went to Betty Field. Power took a powder and the part went to Ladd.
The Ladd restatement, directed by Elliott Nugent, has been virtually impossible to see for decades. Earlier this year film preservationist Eddie Mueller convinced Universal, the studio that now owns the rights to the 1949 version, to strike a brand new 35mm for San Francisco's Noir City Film Festival.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U2jh6XkjrHU - Watch it on YouTube!
When studios remade their own product, it was common practice back in the day to withdraw the original from circulation. That way, television (or a shrewd revival house programmer) couldn't cash in on (and draw box office dollars from) King Kong (1976) by showing King Kong (1933) when the remake was released. Studios wanted to avoid comparison so that their latest interpretation would stand as the definitive telling.
This was the case when Paramount decided to produce yet another adaptation in 1974.
The Great Gatsby (1974)
Was it Watergate that caused this big budget adaptation to tank? Mia Farrow blames the lack of chemistry between her and pretty boy of the moment, Robert Redford, on the notorious break-in. Redford had difficulty turning on the allure due to his non-stop consumption of the events of the scandal. According to Farrow, her co-star spent all of his spare time in a trailer watching the story play out on television.
Literary giants Truman Capote, Vladimir Nabokov, Philip Roth, and Thomas Pynchon were said to have had a hand in writing the screenplay. Francis Ford Coppola received sole screen credit, but claimed director Jack Clayton paid little mind to his script. According to Coppola, "The script that I wrote did not get made."
The Great Gatsby (2012)
Glorified set dresser/music video director, Baz Luhrmann (Strictly Ballroom, Moulin Rouge!) tries his hand at a costly 3D reboot starring Leonardo DiCaprio as Gatsby and Carey Mulligan as Daisy.
I'm guessing there are more cuts in this two-and-a-half minute trailer than there are in the entire '49 version.
Warner Bros. bankrolled Luhrmann's $125 million simplification which is slated for a Christmas Day opening.