The Great Gatsby (1949)

91 mins | Drama | 5 August 1949

Director:

Elliott Nugent

Producer:

Richard Maibaum

Cinematographer:

John F. Seitz

Production Designers:

Hans Dreier, Roland Anderson

Production Company:

Paramount Pictures, Inc.
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HISTORY

According to a HR news item, and a modern interview with producer and co-author Richard Maibaum, Paramount originally intended for John Farrow to direct this film, but Farrow withdrew over disagreements about the production. (Farrow's daughter, Mia Farrow, later appeared as "Daisy" in Paramount's 1974 production of The Great Gatsby .) Information in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library reveals the following information about the production: Paramount first submitted a draft of the story in Feb 1946, which the PCA rejected due its inclusion of "illicit sex and adultery, without sufficient compensating moral values." In Apr 1946, in a letter regarding four screenplays, including The Great Gatsby , PCA director Joseph I. Breen requested that Paramount "dismiss from further consideration...any thought of making [ The Great Gatsby ] into [a] screenplay."
       Paramount continued to submit story outlines to the PCA. However, in Jun 1946, Breen noted in a letter that "to salvage this story and to produce it as a motion picture at this time, would be a very definite disservice to this industry as a whole" and recommended that the filmmakers take up the matter with the PCA's Board of Directors. Almost a year later, Paramount submitted a "rough treatment" of the screenplay to the PCA, and noted in a letter that "Maibaum has done a swell job of capturing the moral flavor that was so necessary to make the story acceptable." Breen responded that the basic story was indeed acceptable, although he noted in his Feb 1947 letter that "we believe it will be necessary to remove the suicide on the part ... More Less

According to a HR news item, and a modern interview with producer and co-author Richard Maibaum, Paramount originally intended for John Farrow to direct this film, but Farrow withdrew over disagreements about the production. (Farrow's daughter, Mia Farrow, later appeared as "Daisy" in Paramount's 1974 production of The Great Gatsby .) Information in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library reveals the following information about the production: Paramount first submitted a draft of the story in Feb 1946, which the PCA rejected due its inclusion of "illicit sex and adultery, without sufficient compensating moral values." In Apr 1946, in a letter regarding four screenplays, including The Great Gatsby , PCA director Joseph I. Breen requested that Paramount "dismiss from further consideration...any thought of making [ The Great Gatsby ] into [a] screenplay."
       Paramount continued to submit story outlines to the PCA. However, in Jun 1946, Breen noted in a letter that "to salvage this story and to produce it as a motion picture at this time, would be a very definite disservice to this industry as a whole" and recommended that the filmmakers take up the matter with the PCA's Board of Directors. Almost a year later, Paramount submitted a "rough treatment" of the screenplay to the PCA, and noted in a letter that "Maibaum has done a swell job of capturing the moral flavor that was so necessary to make the story acceptable." Breen responded that the basic story was indeed acceptable, although he noted in his Feb 1947 letter that "we believe it will be necessary to remove the suicide on the part of Wilson [and] the second part [which] has a reference to the characterization of Mr. Buchanan as a man who has had adulterous affairs."
       In a 1973 interview in LAT , Maibaum noted that Breen suggested adding a prologue to the story, and Maibaum ultimately complied by including on "Gatsby's" tombstone a biblical quote from Proberbs 14:12: "There is a way which seemeth right unto a man but the end thereof are the ways of death." In the interview, Maibaum concludes that although the quote "seemed apt enough at the time...I think now it was anti-Fitzgerald, too explicit, too much on the nose....Fitzgerald wasn't a moralizer." Portions of the film differ significantly from the novel, such as the prologue, the sequence featuring "Gatsby's" pre-Egg years and the final scene depicting a definite romance between "Nick" and "Jordan." Reviews such as HR remarked that "some changes have been made in the story, especially in providing a different background for the hero's youth" and that there was "too much moralizing in the dialogue-heavy script," while the New Yorker reviewer noted that "the players bear little resemblance to the characters created by Fitzgerald." The NYT reviewer added that unlike Gatsby's novel, "the flavor of the Prohibition era is barely reflected in this new film."
       Although actor Alan Ladd was announced for the lead role as early as 1946, because of the lengthy delay in production, he reportedly threatened to take a suspension until the studio proceeded with the film. According to the Maibaum interview, this, along with the PCA's approval of the script, compelled the studio to finally begin production. A HR news item indicated that the wood-panelled library seen in "Gatsby's" mansion was purchased by the studio from the Hearst collection.
       There have been several film and television adaptations of Fitzgerald's novel, all of which were entitled The Great Gatsby : In 1926, Paramount made a silent version, directed by Herbert Brenon and starring Warner Baxter, Lois Wilson and Neil Hamilton (see above). A 1958 television adaptation of the novel was broadcast on the CBS network for its Playhouse 90 series. That version was directed by Franklin J. Schaffner, from a script by David Shaw, and starred Robert Ryan as Gatsby, Jeanne Crain as Daisy and Rod Taylor as Nick. Francis Ford Coppola wrote the screenplay for what became the most famous adaptation of the novel, a Paramount 1974 release, produced by David Merrick, directed by Jack Clayton and starring Robert Redford, Mia Farrow and Sam Waterston (see below). In 2001, a television adaptation of the novel was broadcast on the Arts & Entertainment cable network, directed by Robert Markowitz and starring Toby Stephens, Mira Sorvino and Paul Rudd. In Jan 2009, Australian director Baz Luhrman announced that he would produce and write an adaptation of The Great Gatsby for his Bazmark Films production company. The film, which is being shot in Australia, is scheduled for release in 2012 and stars Leonardo DeCaprio as Gatsby, Carey Mulligan as Daisy, Ben Affleck as Tom Buchanan and Tobey Maguire as Nick Carraway. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
30 Apr 1949.
---
Daily Variety
26 Apr 49
p. 3.
Film Daily
27 Apr 49
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Dec 47
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Mar 48
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Apr 48
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Apr 49
p. 3, 6
Hollywood Reporter
16 May 1958.
---
Los Angeles Examiner
25 Feb 1946.
---
Los Angeles Times
16 Jul 73
p. 14, 38-39, 41-42.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
30 Apr 49
p. 4591.
New York Times
14 Jul 49
p. 20.
New Yorker
23 Jul 1949.
---
Variety
27 Apr 49
p. 11.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Howard da Silva
James Davis
Bill Meader
Dick Keene
Herbert S. Naish
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
2d asst dir
2d asst dir
2d unit dir
2d unit dir
PRODUCER
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
Asst cam
Gaffer
Stills
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Asst cutter
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
Props
MUSIC
Mus adv
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec photog eff
Spec photog eff
Spec photog eff
DANCE
Dance dir
Dance supv
MAKEUP
Makeup supv
Makeup
Hair
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
Asst prod mgr
Casting
Dial coach
Scr clerk
Grip
Mike grip
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (New York, 1925) and the play of the same name by Owen Davis (2 Feb 1926).
SONGS
"There's a Rainbow 'Round My Shoulder," music and lyrics by Al Jolson, Billy Rose and Dave Dreyer.
DETAILS
Release Date:
5 August 1949
Premiere Information:
New York opening: week of 14 July 1949
Production Date:
8 March--1 May 1948
added scenes and retakes: 25 June, 1 July, 7 August and 10 November 1948
Copyright Claimant:
Paramount Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
5 August 1949
Copyright Number:
LP2471
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
91
Length(in feet):
8,195
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
13039
SYNOPSIS

Twenty years after the death of self-made millionaire Jay Gatsby, his friends, Nick Carraway and Jordan Baker, visit his grave and reminisce: In the Prohibition era of 1928, bootlegger Jay pursues his dream and buys a mansion in East Egg, on Long Island Sound. Jay lavishly redecorates the mansion, which was chosen specifically because it provides a view across the channel to the Buchanan mansion in exclusive West Egg. After a couple of weeks, Jay invites his neighbor, Nick, to one of his extravagant parties. Jay hardly knows a soul there, and Nick quickly sees through his pretense of grandeur. Jay admits that he is a self-made man and tells Nick about his rise: After growing up poor along Lake Superior, Jay is befriended by Dan Cody, an elderly, wealthy seaman who is spending his declining years sailing around the world with his young wife Ella. Jay joins the Codys on their travels and becomes sophisticated and worldly, taking to heart Dan's advice that only money counts. Although Jay is like a son to Dan, Dan encourages Jay to seduce Ella, who rebuffs him until the moment Dan dies, when she presses a kiss on him. Jay is disgusted by Ella's cold heart, and when he rejects her, she prevents him from claiming his $25,000 inheritance from Dan. Now, twelve years later, Jay prefers to be surrounded by socialites. Having sketched out his life to Nick, Jay asks him to arrange a private tea with Daisy Buchanan, Nick's cousin. Nick goes to visit Daisy, her husband Tom, and their friend, Jordan, and learns from Jordan that Daisy had promised herself to Jay before he went to war, but ... +


Twenty years after the death of self-made millionaire Jay Gatsby, his friends, Nick Carraway and Jordan Baker, visit his grave and reminisce: In the Prohibition era of 1928, bootlegger Jay pursues his dream and buys a mansion in East Egg, on Long Island Sound. Jay lavishly redecorates the mansion, which was chosen specifically because it provides a view across the channel to the Buchanan mansion in exclusive West Egg. After a couple of weeks, Jay invites his neighbor, Nick, to one of his extravagant parties. Jay hardly knows a soul there, and Nick quickly sees through his pretense of grandeur. Jay admits that he is a self-made man and tells Nick about his rise: After growing up poor along Lake Superior, Jay is befriended by Dan Cody, an elderly, wealthy seaman who is spending his declining years sailing around the world with his young wife Ella. Jay joins the Codys on their travels and becomes sophisticated and worldly, taking to heart Dan's advice that only money counts. Although Jay is like a son to Dan, Dan encourages Jay to seduce Ella, who rebuffs him until the moment Dan dies, when she presses a kiss on him. Jay is disgusted by Ella's cold heart, and when he rejects her, she prevents him from claiming his $25,000 inheritance from Dan. Now, twelve years later, Jay prefers to be surrounded by socialites. Having sketched out his life to Nick, Jay asks him to arrange a private tea with Daisy Buchanan, Nick's cousin. Nick goes to visit Daisy, her husband Tom, and their friend, Jordan, and learns from Jordan that Daisy had promised herself to Jay before he went to war, but after a year and a half, abandoned him to marry wealthy football hero Tom. Although she has a daughter, Daisy is unhappy in her marriage, as she knows that Tom is having an affair with Myrtle Wilson, the loose wife of a gas station owner. Jordan insists that Jay give her his expensive Duesenberg car in exchange for arranging the private meeting with Daisy. Daisy is thrilled to see her first love again, and after Jay proudly gives her a tour of his house, he asks her to leave Tom. Nick, meanwhile, learns from Jay's righthand man, Klipspringer, that Jay was a war hero, and after returning home and being jilted by Daisy, won a $5,000 settlement on his inheritance, and built a bootlegging fortune with his business partner, Myron Lupus. The next night, Daisy convinces Tom to attend one of Jay's parties, but Tom jealously takes her home after seeing her emerge from the library with Jay with an air of intimacy. Daisy is unable to broach the subject of a separation with Tom, and on a stifling hot day, she, Tom, Jordan, Nick and Jay travel into town in their expensive, look-alike automobiles. When Tom stops for gas, Wilson, who values Tom's patronage, asks for a loan so that he can leave the state with Myrtle, whom he no longer trusts. Unknown to Tom, Wilson has locked his wife in their apartment above the garage. Later in a hotel room in town, Daisy insists to Jay that she has never loved Tom. Although Daisy is surprised to learn of Jay's disreputable background, she leaves with him after demanding a separation from Tom. On their return drive, Myrtle runs onto the road thinking that Tom is in the car, and when Daisy swerves to avoid a truck, she hits Myrtle and keeps driving. Myrtle dies, and Wilson suddenly realizes that Tom was her lover and believes that he killed her. Jay takes the hysterical Daisy home and insists that he be allowed to take the blame for the accident, then drives the dented car back to his house. When he returns to the Buchanan home for Daisy, he overhears her discussing the accident with Tom and agreeing to let Jay take the blame so that her life will not be tainted. Nick is revolted by Tom and Daisy's ruthless self-preservation and breaks off their friendship. That night, a deranged Wilson slips into Tom's house intending to shoot him, but leaves without harming him after he denies hitting Myrtle, and suggests that someone else in the neighborhood owns a yellow sedan like his. The next morning, Daisy beseeches Tom to help her find the strength to go the police, and although Tom refuses, he does call Jay to warn him about Wilson. Jay, resting poolside, lets the phone ring unanswered, and tells Nick that his friend Dan was wrong about money. Jay states that he is now ready to accept the blame for the accident as a way of repaying the years of his ill-gotten gains. Just then, Wilson fatally shoots Jay. Only Nick and Jordan attend Jay's burial and, saddened by his hollow life, they decide to return to the Midwest together. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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