F. Scott Fitzgerald
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Fitzgerald's literary masterpiece has struggled to a satisfactory translation to the screen. No footage or prints exist of the silent movie made in 1926. A 1949 remake directed by Elliott Nugent has been hailed by critics as the best Gatsby film so far but is not available on DVD, making it difficult for today's audiences to access. A made-for-TV version in 2000 was, well, meh. The 1974 remake directed by Jack Clayton is probably the best-known version, but not the best loved. The filmmakers' attempt to remain as faithful to the script backfired—images that are poignant on the page come off as cheesy on screen, like Robert Redford's Gatsby reaching toward the green light on Daisy's dock. Nobody has anything nice to say about Mia Farrow's performance as Daisy. Here is the trailer, with Robert Redford looking dreamy in the title role.Despite past failures, Hollywood is not yet done with Jay Gatsby. Baz Luhrmann, the Australian director behind Romeo + Juliet and Moulin Rouge, is rumored to be working on yet another remake due in 2010.
Fitzgerald's second novel was made into a silent film the same year it was published. Unfortunately, it seems that the original film no longer exists. An Australian remake from 2008 merits neither link nor mention, but never fear, Fitzgerald fans! Keira Knightley has just signed on to star in yet another version of the story, due for release in 2010.
This film about three young German soldiers in the aftermath of World War I was Fitzgerald's only screenwriting credit. It is worth watching, both as the sole surviving example of Fitzgerald's screenwriting style and for Margaret Sullavan's exquisite performance as the woman all three friends fall in love with.
Fitzgerald worked briefly on this film during his late-1930s Hollywood phase, though he has no screen credit. In "The Crack-Up," Fitzgerald rued the public's preference for cinema, "a glittering, grosser power," over literature. When you contrast the subtlety of Fitzgerald's fiction with this movie, which is anything but subtle, you start to understand what he's talking about. We still love it though.
This film is inspired by "Babylon Revisited," one of Fitzgerald's best short stories. It is notable for Elizabeth Taylor's performance and the filmmakers' decision to completely scrap the story's original ending in favor of a happy, Hollywood-friendly one.
Fitzgerald's delicate depiction of a struggling marriage has never been successfully made into a movie. A 1962 version starring Jason Robards and Jennifer Jones as the ill-fated couple received mixed reviews, though the original song "Tender is the Night" was nominated for an Oscar. If you have a few more hours to spare or are a Fitzgerald obsessive, you might try the well-received 1985 TV miniseries adaptation.
This is a made-for-TV, semi-fictional account of F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald's romance, featuring Blythe Danner in a strong turn as the suffering, manic Zelda. For a TV movie it was fairly well received, but we think you'd probably rather read a biography of the famous couple instead.
Some critics believe that this TV movie starring Shelley Duvall is actually the most successful screen adaptation of any of Fitzgerald's works. The story of a shy young woman wanting to fit in resonates today and translates well to the screen.
This film boasts some seriously heavy hitters in the credits—Elia Kazan directed, Harold Pinter adapted the book for screen, and Robert de Niro played the lead. Ironically, Fitzgerald's novel about the film industry doesn't strike the right nerve on screen. Nominated for Oscar in Best Art Direction.
This documentary, part of the PBS American Masters series, is an excellent look at Fitzgerald's life. Archival footage spliced in with current interviews shed light on the rise and fall of the writer's career. The title comes from a short story from Fitzgerald's popular first collection; he was fired from the film version in 1939 for drunkenness.
Fitzgerald was not a great screenwriter, and film adaptations of his work tend to be not so great. This 2008 Best Picture nominee could actually break the streak of mediocre Fitzgerald-inspired films . . . although the screenplay actually bears startlingly little resemblance to the original story. Go see it—just don't be offended if most of your fellow filmgoers are just there to ogle at Brad Pitt.