The Great Gatsby

I watched
this
movie
last night — it was more enjoyable than I expected.
Mostly the music and the dancing girls, although the acting was
pretty good, too.

I’ve never read the book — my parents owned Tender is
the Night
, and I tried to read it several times and
always got bored, so I never went in for any other F. Scott
Fitzgerald, either. I did see the
version
with Robert Redford
in the 70’s, and remembered it visually
but not for the plot. For instance, I remembered the scene with
Gatsby floating dead in the pool, but not the details of how
or why he died.

This version is a much more lavish production — I don’t
remember there being scantily clothed dancing girls doing
production numbers in every drug store in the other version.

It’s definitely a Hollywood production and not a BBC
historically accurate costume drama. I remember hearing an
interview with a famous actor who had worked in both American TV
and British TV, and he said the difference was how much less
important the actors were in the British version. He’d have
these fittings for costumes, and they’d find a jacket that fit
him pretty well and make notes about how to alter it for his
exact shape, but also for the exact year of the scene he was
wearing it in, as in “We’ll take off these buttons — they
weren’t made until the ’20s and this is 1904.” And the
people who knew about the buttons were treated as well (or
badly) as the actors who wore the suits.

They didn’t do that in this movie. I don’t know enough about
buttons to say when the ones in this movie were made, but I did
get startled when a scene very explicitly billed as 1922 was
playing Rhapsody in Blue as a background to the
fireworks. I looked it up, and sure enough, it wasn’t until
1924 that Gershwin wrote it. It did work really well as the
background to the fireworks. Maybe the Boston Pops Fourth of
July concert could use that instead of or in addition to
Tchaikowsky some year.

I also noticed that the English actress Carey
Mulligan’s
American accent was better than some. It didn’t
sound like any American I’ve ever known, but she did almost
convince me that she might know something I don’t about how a Louisville
debutante born at the turn of the 19th century might have
spoken.

If none of this sounds like I spent a lot of time caring about
what happened to any of the characters in the movie, I didn’t. But I did enjoy
it.


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