Just the other day, the official trailer of the upcoming remake of The Great Gatsby was released. The author of the novel, F. Scott Fitzgerald, once lived in a brownstone that still stands just around the corner from our home.
Given that he called St. Paul, MN his home, I have visited some of his local haunts -including a remarkably well preserved bar in the Art Deco style – and explored his local history. As such, I particularly look forward to the new interpretation of this American classic. Considering it is set in the the glorious Twenties, I have high hopes for the costumes worn in that movie. However, with the recent disappointments in regard to period dress in the latest US American productions,
I would not be surprised if the protagonists played by Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan, Tobey Maguire, Joel Edgerton and Isla Fisher wore modern day clothes with a 20’s flavor that lack true era-specific details and fit. Baz Luhrmann of Romeo + Juliet fame is directing, and his films are known for their visual intensity, strong stylistic themes and attention to detail. In most of his films, the character’s costumes serve to emphasize Luhrmann’s creative vision first, so we will see if historical accuracy will play a role. Certainly, The Great Gatsby’s story is inextricably linked to the Roaring Twenties, and the rush of evening parties, money, excess, and pleasure seeking bode well for our sartorial anticipation. Critics of the trailer have noted that Luhrmann’s adaptation appears to be a “caricature” of the 20’s. However, we will not judge this movie by it’s trailer and so, we won’t review The Great Gatsby and the clothes until we have seen the entire movie.
This version of the movie is the first one that was shot in 3D.
The Other Great Gatsby Movies
Most people will know the 1974 film of The Great Gatsby starring Robert Redford and Mia Farrow. However, there were two other films.
Great Gatsby 1926 Version
The first known version was filmed in 1926 and produced by Herbert Brenon. The novel was first released in 1925, and so it is quite remarkable that a silent movie of the stage adaptation was filmed just a year later. Actors included Warner Baxter, Lois Wilson, and William Powell. Unfortunately, this first motion picture adaptation was lost. All that remains is this trailer:
Jay Gatsby 1949 Film- Alan Ladd
The second movie starred the fabulous Alan Ladd as Gatsby and many consider this version to be the best portrayal of the novel’s protagonist to date. However, Betty Field interpreted her Daisy character too intelligently and Barry Sullivan, Ruth Hussey, and Macdonald Carey, were not great either. Nevertheless, this adaptation is close to Fitzgerald’s novel , and Ladd superbly conveys the tragic element of the lead role. You can watch the 1949 version on Youtube, although the resolution is not great at all:
Robert Redford in 1974
This 70’s adaptation of the novel was not bad since Redford had what it took to fill out the role; his calm intensity was marvelous and Mia Farrow did a better job of conveying Daisy’s self-interest and superficiality. However, the version was overblown and had a distinctly 70’s era look which spilled over into the costumes. Moreover, quite a few elements of the plot were simply missing but if you have not seen it yet, I recommend you do so before the new movie comes out. It will only cost you a few bucks.
TV Adaptations of The Great Gatsby
In edition to the Hollywood adaptations, there were two TV versions of The Great Gatsby. The first one aired in 2000 and was directed by Robert Markowitz, starring Toby Stephens as Jay Gatsby, Paul Rudd and Mira Sorvino. Here, the clothes do not really have the 1920’s flair and the acting is just average.
Two years later, there was a more modern and loose adaptation called G, which was directed by Christopher Scott Cherot.
No doubt, Luhrmann’s adaptation will be a visual feast that will stoke the fires of 20’s sartorial inspiration. In the future, I will take a close look at the clothing of the male characters and report back, so stay tuned. Which version is your favorite and why?