Riotous Excursions: Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby


I contributed a piece to Bright Wall Dark Room’s August “Literary Adaptations” issue, and I wrote on a film I’ve been wanting to write about – and celebrate – for a long time (or, ever since it came out): Baz Luhrmann’s magnificent The Great Gatsby. I write about how the film adaptation hews close to Fitzgerald’s text (as did the underwater-tepid 1974 version), but more importantly: it understands the mood of Fitzgerald’s book. And the mood is the most important thing.

You can read the piece here:

Riotous Excursions: Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby.

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21 Responses to Riotous Excursions: Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby

  1. Todd Restler says:

    I love it too. Once Leo appears the movie blasts off like a rocket and never steps wrong. He was the right director to tackle it, Leo is the perfect Gatsby to me, and the rest of the cast was stellar. And the movie looks amazing. Can’t wait to read it.

  2. Natalie says:

    Let us know when it’s free to read! This was one of the few required reading books that I read and loved in high school, and I thought this adaptation was brilliant. The crazy decadence! My heart actually sped up during the party and driving scenes, because I felt like I was there. (I would love to know your thoughts on the Baz Luhrmann adaptation of Romeo and Juliet, too, if you have time. I get why his stuff is polarizing – the anachronisms, the sped-up sequences, etc. – but I feel like the people who get caught up in that are missing the point. Luhrmann managed to shock me with his ending of R&J. No easy feat for an ending EVERYONE knows.)

    • sheila says:

      Natalie – I love to hear this! I totally agree with you – I thought the vision of insane decadence is exactly what Fitzgerald was writing about and BL conveyed it gorgeously!

      And I loved his Romeo and Juliet too. The things other people seem to find exhausting – all the cutting and movement and noise – I don’t know, I feel like he picks subject matter and stories that will suit his style. You know? Romeo and Juliet can totally TAKE that kind of excess – because that whole story is about excess, excess of feeling in general.

      anyway: the piece is now available to read – would love to hear your thoughts!

  3. Chad says:

    We got the paywall out of there – read away!

  4. sheila says:

    Okay everyone – it’s available – thank you, Chad!

  5. Todd Restler says:

    Amazing piece Sheila (as usual!).

    You pretty much nailed my thoughts on both the book and movie. Baz Luhrmann was absolutely the right director for this. I wouldn’t want to see him direct, say, a police procedural (what the hell would “Baz Luhrmann’s Prince of the City” look like?), but this is a larger than life story that deserves all the excess it can get.

    There is something so uniquely American about the story. We have literally come to define success in this country as “having a lot of money”. A man who works two jobs to support his family in a loving and caring way is a “failure” if they live in a tiny apartment. A five times divorced Wall Street asshole who cares about nothing but his possessions is a “success”, as long as he has the possessions. It’s beyond fucked up. The story was so ahead of it’s time. In fact it’s probably still ahead of it’s time. Who wants to hear this shit, when is the I-Phone 9 coming out? To me the real tragedy of Gatsby is that he felt unworthy of Love until he was rich. Fitzgerald was a prophet.

    In both the book and movie the image that sticks with me is the Green Light; I’m so glad you highlighted Buhrman’s excellent use of that image, as well as the Eyes (“of God” – exactly).

    You also dove into my two favorite scenes in the movie. The “tea party” is just amazing, and Leo is so good at showing raging insecurity there. Acting to me is such a mystery. Leo is probably the Biggest star in the World, I’d be surprised if he is really an insecure mess. Yet he was certainly able to show that. I can’t recall a similar scene in any other movie, frankly. Is Leo tapping into some deep insecurity that he actually feels on some level? Is he able to just “fake” that so convincingly? It’s amazing work, glad you honed in on it.

    And the “you loved me TOO” scene, my goodness. That is probably the saddest part of the story for me. You WON, dammit. Just accept it and move on. But he “wants too much”. He needs to preserve the idea of perfection in this relationship. Don’t we all try to do that to our eternal detriment? Again I think it’s the money, I think Gatsby feels if he were always rich she would have always loved him and him alone. Maybe I’m off here. But the delusion. And how delusion is a NECESSARY part of life, and goes hand in hand with belief. You really nailed that Sheila.

    I’m also glad you are willing to admit the movie isn’t perfect. It does lumber a bit towards Gatsby’s introduction, although as I mentioned the movie blasts off once he arrives, but it takes maybe 15 minutes to get there, and I feel no shame in just fast forwarding to that intro. Also not in love with Mulligan as Daisy. I’m not sure why Hollywood decided she was a glamorous leading lady, but these things happen.

    I hate to suggest that I would have loved to see Margot Robbie in the role, since that seems so simple after Wolf of Wall Street, but God help me after being dragged to Suicide Squad against my will and absolutely LOVING her in it, she is my new favorite actress, proving to me Wolf was no one-hit wonder.

    Great work Sheila!

    • sheila says:

      Todd – thank you so much for reading and this great and in-depth response. I always look forward to hearing what you have to say!

      Baz Luhrmann’s police procedural. Hahahaha Yeah, he needs stylistic license to do this thing. It may not be to everyone’s tastes – but what the hell is? This is how HE likes to create. Go for it, showman. He’s Jim Broadbent in “Moulin Rouge”!

      // Is Leo tapping into some deep insecurity that he actually feels on some level? Is he able to just “fake” that so convincingly? //

      Well, great actors, in general, are more sensitive than most people, and more observant. That’s part of what being a great actor entails. Being so curious about other people – and maybe so wanting to escape being yourself (because how boring is that) – that you want to experience what other people experience. I know that when I’ve acted, and I’ve played whores and control-freak-prudes and Victorian-age lesbians, and on and on -each one was a beautiful experience in imagining my way into other people’s shoes. I got to do shit I never got to do as myself. Playing Miss Alma in Summer and Smoke was almost more cathartic than any experience I’ve had in my real life. I wasn’t the same person after that. AND there is always a point of egress. We’re all human beings. Of course Leo has insecurities! Maybe he’s bad at math. Maybe he’s dyslexic. Who knows. I’m sure early in his career he got roles he didn’t want – he was pretty conflicted about the Titanic mania – he didn’t want to be associated with that. That was probably rather upsetting and he worked hard to get himself back on the track he wanted to be on. Not that Titanic wasn’t good – but, you know, it threatened to typecast him. Nothing is easy when you’re that big a movie star! You’re constantly on the verge of total collapse – one thing could derail the whole she-bang! Also: whatever actors tap into to “get there” doesn’t have to be a one to one equation. It could be a memory in childhood that made you feel a certain way – and the memory has nothing to do with the role. Anthony Hopkins talked about a moment when he was a kid, and his mother made him a little sandwich and gave him a thermos of lemonade, and he was so excited about it, and he went out into a nearby field to have his little picnic. And another boy – bigger than he was – swooped by on his bike, took Anthony’s sandwich and Thermos, and rode off. Hopkins said that that memory was the entire basis for his performance of Richard Nixon.

      Now you have to be a genius to pull something like that off. But it requires great vulnerability and willingness to put yourself TOTALLY in someone else’s shoes – with no condescension (maybe the most important part of all). So many actors play roles “different” from them and you can see them holding back, or falling back on cliches because they don’t want to REALLY go there.

      Leo REALLY goes there.

      And so: YES. That scene at Nick’s house! The way he slicks his rain-wet hair down before entering the room?? It’s tragic! But also so so funny. And Leo does it in a way that you know he deeply respects Gatsby, and respects what this means to Gatsby. He’s hilarious in that scene but he’s not making FUN of Gatsby. Know what I mean?

      I’ve seen actresses “play dumb” and it’s so condescending. Like, just play someone who has never cracked open a book, and who is naive, and yeah, maybe dumb – but don’t wink-wink at the audience like “See how dumb this person is?” Or playing “crazy” – don’t get me started on what actors often do with THAT.

      // You WON, dammit. Just accept it and move on. //

      God, yes! What a great way to put it. But he can’t!!! The fantasy requires that she abdicate her past and that the 5 years apart be obliterated. He’s so CERTAIN of that. I love the scene by the pool when Nick tries to tell him you can’t repeat the past – and Leo literally looks confused at the comment. it’s so outside Gatsby’s conception of his own life. I mean, look at how he destroyed evidence of his own past. The past is THERE to be messed with.

      // I think Gatsby feels if he were always rich she would have always loved him and him alone. //

      I totally agree with this. His desire to be rich was merely a way to get Daisy back – and it’s why he is such a ruthless businessman, who’s basically a criminal (at least in the era of Prohibition – Prohibition CREATED organized crime in this country). He will do whatever it takes. To make money and grab that brass ring (green light, Daisy).

      And isn’t that American? At least in terms of the literary conceit in the novel and what Fitzgerald was saying. He felt the cataclysm coming. He felt that the entire culture was going to plunge off a cliff. The value system was all messed up. Money money money. and when things got REALLY tough – when Jay Gatsby was killed – where were all his so-called friends? Nowheresville, because they actually didn’t care, and they were just using him.

      But – he was using them too, wasn’t he?

      I’m with you on Mulligan. She was too much of a drip as Daisy. Mia Farrow got closer – with that brittle silliness – that Gatsby cannot see because he thinks she is perfect. But she is not a grounded person, not a particularly nice person, and she’s just playing around with him. Because she’s bored with her husband and once upon a time a young soldier loved her for her. For about 2 seconds. Gatsby is easy. His love for her is flattering. I’m being hard on Daisy – she’s a victim of her time, and also her environment. Southern belles were not raised to be “useful.”

      I miss the romance between Nick and Jordan – because that’s part of why Nick gets so disillusioned. Jordan CLOCKS him for who he is. Not reliable. Not strong. And Nick is shocked that anyone would see him that way. I feel like it’s an important part of the story – although I can see why BL left it out – because the entire film is so obsessed with Jay Gatsby and Leo that it can’t take much else.

      and like I said in the review – if you don’t have that obsession with Gatsby, you don’t have ANYTHING. Or, at least you don’t have Gatsby!!

      I’m so sorry that I never remember what we have discussed before – you’ve seen Tarzan, yes? I love Margot Robbie too. I think she could have embodied that silly carelessness that is so much a part of Daisy.

      Thanks again, Todd! A couple of people on Twitter were making fun of me for this piece as I knew they would – silly silly people – ha! – but it’s gotten a lot of nice attention too. Especially the praise for Leo – I mean, he’s just magnificent in this!!

      • Todd Restler says:

        I was fine with the Nick and Jordan romance not being in the movie, it would have been a lot to cram in. Works perfectly as it is, though I get your point.

        Another touch in the “You loved me TOO?” scene that I loved was how HOT it was. It was funny to me to see these rich people in an expensive hotel room with amazing clothes, and they were all sweating their balls off. Nice period touch, and also added to the tension of the scene since they were all so visibly uncomfortable.

        I have not seen Tarzan, but after Suicide Squad I think Robbie can do anything. The critics were so far off on that movie it’s stunning. She literally carries the movie on her back and makes it not only fun, but, I swear, emotionally resonant.

        Silly Twitter people! Do they think this movie is not worth the analysis, or did they just disagree with you that it’s any good?

        It’s beyond good, it’s an amazing achievement of a movie.

        • sheila says:

          I loved too how hot it was! And everyone was a legit sweat ball. It wasn’t like the fans were going, and the windows were open but everyone still looked like cool gorgeous movie stars. They were drenched!

          And yeah: WHAT are you doing, going to hang out in the Plaza, after that super-awkward scene in the dining room at your house?? It’s so … crazy! (Also loved how Edgerton chopped up that ice. It’s those details – added by BL – that help make this film – because it tells you hot it is, but it also shows you Tom’s state of mind. It’s THEATRICAL, dammit!)

          I haven’t seen Suicide Squad and I probably won’t. But yes, I love Robbie. She was great in Wolf of Wall Street – and I totally thought she was unknown plucked out of the Bronx, just like Cathy Moriarty. I was stunned to learn she wasn’t American.

          I also thought her small cameo in The Big Short was hysterical.

          Oh yeah, you know, snobby Twitter film critics. It’s a weird vibe. Not all of them – I got a lot of love from most critics who (at least) agree that it’s one of Leo’s finest performances!

  6. Loved the piece. Knew I would.

  7. mutecypher says:

    I really enjoyed your essay! I watched the movie again last night as a refresher.

    I liked that Nick’s sanatorium consultation began about a month after the Crash: Dec. 1, 1929. An opportune time to begin the detox. And that he grabbed a copy of Ulysses (right there in 1922!) when Baz wanted to show that Nick was literary. I felt like the sanatorium frame allowed BL to continue with some of the “a story about a time, a story about a place” language that was part of Moulin Rouge. And to give Nick a father figure – a therapist – similar to Christian’s. As you said, a very Moulin Rouge-ish framing device. Nick could have simply narrated, without the doctor’s orders, but I think Baz would have the audience run 6 laps around a small room just so we were dizzy enough to appreciate the effect he could only get on the seventh time around.

    And maybe I’m being too “glass half full” here, but I’m reluctant to agree that Carey Mulligan was mis-cast. I don’t know her other work, so I can’t compare. With Daisy being so inert and passive it really emphasized for me what an act of “perfect, irresistible imagination” it took to build that huge edifice of a life for her. Again, I think Baz could have done that on purpose with the casting and whatever he directed her to do, just to emphasize Gatsby’s extravagant gift for hope. But I doubt if I’ve convinced you.

    I also liked the Citizen Kane echoes (for me, anyway) of Gatsby saying “Daisy” as he fell into the pool – and the shots of all his possessions and the line of servants removing them. Like “Rosebud” and the emptying of Xanadu.

    As you said, Leo! God, that scene with the “you loved me too.” And the clock. Even Leo making sure to shut the gate after Nick left to go to work on that day Gatsby was shot – a specific gesture that Gatsby would have made.

    This really was a wonderful movie, thanks for the great write-up.

    • sheila says:

      // I watched the movie again last night as a refresher. //

      I absolutely love it when people say stuff like that to me. It makes me happy – like we’re all on some group venture.

      and ha – yeah, that Ulysses moment. Ulysses was not allowed in the US until 1934 – but (and this is even better) – the cover was the flat blue one of the very very first European edition – the one that was seized at customs all over the place. Ulysses was banned in the United States from the moment of publication in 1922 – so clearly Nick had to send away for it, or have a friend in Paris buy a copy and smuggle it in a box surrounded by sweaters or whatever, so customs wouldn’t find it. Details matter!! I appreciated that it was the right cover.

      Yeah, for me Carey Mulligan did not have the Daisy-ish-ness of Fitzgerald’s Daisy. “Are you falling in love with me?” she coos to her cousin – and somehow she lacked that kind of frantic brightness that Daisy has. That sort of extroverted flirtation that is somehow empty and compelling at the same time.

      However, it is true – and I didn’t make the point in the piece – one of the good things about Mulligan’s work – was that Mulligan’s drippiness and heaviness – her sort of sodden quality – makes Gatsby seem even more delusional. For that, it really really worked. Because you got that Gatsby had made up this perfect girl. The reality never matched his fantasy. You got that with Mia Farrow too – who was closer to the character that was on the page. That movie is so not good, though, that it’s hard to distinguish anything that really works. But I think it’s really important to understand that Gatsby’s love for Daisy is pretty much a one-way street. OR – she “loved him too” – He wasn’t the only love of her life. He was the guy she messed around with before she settled down. And so poor Gatsby. You just feel sorry for the guy for investing so much in so little (I’m paraphrasing F Scott there).

      In that regard, Mulligan was perfect! Because there shouldn’t be tons of chemistry between her and Gatsby. You know? She had WAY more chemistry with Joel Edgerton – who I thought was amazing as Tom! Perfect!

      and you’re right: very very Citizen Kane. The mansion even looked like Hearst’s San Simeon!

      // Even Leo making sure to shut the gate after Nick left to go to work on that day Gatsby was shot – a specific gesture that Gatsby would have made. //

      I’m not remembering that, dammit, and now I need to go back and look for it.

      Finally: beCAUSE Leo was so great – when Tobey Maguire shouts up to him in that final scene: “You’re worth more than the lot of them put together” – tears always flood my eyes. Even though Gatsby is so flawed, and shows the worst of America (rapaciousness, delusion) – he also shows the best (hope, optimism). It’s such a complex moment and the look on Leo’s face is brilliant. It says so much, it says nothing.

      Thank you so much for reading. Would love to hear more of your thoughts.

      • mutecypher says:

        //“You’re worth more than the lot of them put together” – tears always flood my eyes//

        So I’m not the only one…

        I agree about Joel Edgerton, a very compelling Tom. Also as you wrote, I wish that Martha was a more interesting character – though you could say her shallowness reflected on Tom’s choices of mistresses.

        I was left wanting more from the actress who played Jordan. She doesn’t have a lot of credits on IMDB. If this had been a mini-series instead of a movie, it would have been great to see the Nick-Jordan relationship.

        You know, another thing about Carey Mulligan’s performance, it helps create a bit of concern (for me) about Nick’s reliability as a narrator. When he goes over to the Buchanan’s and we see Jordan and Daisy and Nick says something about Daisy being extraordinary – all I could think of was the line from Chinatown – “that little girlfriend, she was pretty in a cheap kind of way.” Which, if you want to go with it, calls back to the sort of women who appeal to Tom.

        It’s funny, I find Jason Clarke such an uncompelling actor – I think of Regina’s comment about Domhnall Gleeson in the Ex Machina discussion: tofu. He did nothing for me in Everest. And his George in this didn’t really make me feel George’s fevered insecurity, as in the book. So for some odd reason I felt the desire to try him out in something else, I watched Terminator Genesys last night. All I can say is that it was nice to see your cousin Kerry. But people must see something in him that I’m not. Good for him.

      • mutecypher says:

        Okay, since it’s National Let’s Go On About Colors Day (you could look it up)…

        In the scene at the hotel (as you and Todd said, making it all so hot just squared the insanity and tension), I didn’t recall Tom going on about the pinkness of Gatsby’s suit (the whiteness of the whale). So I went back to the book and didn’t find anything like that as a trigger in the scene for the “you’re not an Oxford man” insinuation. Luhrmann and Pearce added that touch. I think it was a great way to highlight Tom’s character: no true Scotsman (er, Oxford man) would wear a pink suit. Since, from Tom’s viewpoint, attending an elite school isn’t a way to get world class instruction in the best of human knowledge and wisdom; it’s a way to acquire the same honeyed varnish that all well-bred, moneyed people should have. And Gatsby didn’t have that. So, nice use of pink.

        And then there was the great scene in Nick’s cottage, with Gatsby coming back sopping wet and trying to strike a casual pose as he enters the flower-stuffed room with Daisy. I loved Gatsby’s golden brown tie and jacket handkerchief. I covet those colors. But they are so autumnal amongst all the spring greenery. That stood out for me. Why wasn’t his tie and handkerchief some bright green or pale blue? Was that set of colors some subtle indication that he was discombobulated by anxiety? – not that we needed anything beyond Leo’s acting. But it’s Baz Luhrmann, so “more, more, more.”


        It’s also Speaking of Citizen Kane Day.

        Gatsby’s line “I’m only 32, I might still be a great man” put me in mind of CF Kane’s “If I hadn’t been very rich, I might have been a really great man.” Both characters recognized that some “true” sort of greatness is decoupled from riches. Now, knowing something and acting upon it are separate things. But it’s interesting that they recognized this, with Gatsby also offering a sort of critique of both himself and Daisy (and ‘love’) as people who pursue or require wealth before they make an effort toward ‘greatness.’ Not that Daisy was going to make any such effort, but Gatsby clearly planned to once he had Daisy fixed and mounted into his dream of their life.

        I wonder how much Mankiewicz had Gatsby in mind when he wrote Citizen Kane. Was there a sort of compare and contrast in his mind with Gatsby versus Hearst? William Randolph does kinda crowd everyone else out. I don’t know if ol’ Herman ever crossed paths with F. Scott.

      • sheila says:

        In the 1974 version, they keep Myrtle’s whole monologue about how she first met Tom – that’s in the book – and it’s such a pathetic story, showing Tom’s lecherousness, really – but Myrtle thinks it’s a grand love affair. Karen Black KILLS with that monologue in the 1974 version. Myrtle is super dumb, but she is also a person – and didn’t deserve to be run down in the road. So yeah, having her be Betty Boop in the flesh sort of avoided that question.

        I actually liked the Jordan in the BL version better than the one in the 1974 version. I mean, Jordan is a golf champion. She’s not just some debutante. She probably is a total heartbreaker, and doesn’t give a shit. She’d rather play golf. So I kind of believed that more from Baz’s “Jordan.” But yeah, she’s basically reduced to a witness – as well as the one who gives us the backstory about what happened between Daisy and Gatsby.

        You know who I loved – was the floozy at the party at Myrtle’s apartment who sat on Nick’s lap. Or maybe I just loved her hat and her eye makeup. Which is as good a reason to love something as any.

        and yes, I see what you are saying about Mulligan in re: Nick – but I think Nick needs to seem more reliable than, say, Gatsby – because Nick is the one who is clear-sighted enough to even perceive Gatsby’s delusion and all the rest. Nick’s perception of her has so much to do with her laugh – Fitzgerald opens the character with the sound of her laugh – kind of bright and musical and warm and drawing you to her … I have no reason to doubt that description. And Carey just doesn’t have “that” at all. I mean, she doesn’t ruin the movie for me. At all. The rest is so strong – and the most important thing is to “get” Gatsby – and to get the scope of the story – which BL does. Daisy is just a prop. And she kind of IS. She’s not even REAL. And then she floats off, after ruining people’s lives, and doesn’t even look back.

        and oops, I love Jason Clarke. :) I quote his line from Zero Dark Thirty all the time; “Everybody breaks, bro.”

      • sheila says:

        The pink suit and the boater was awesome. In our 21st-century society, you can’t really “tell” about people from what clothes they wear. Or at least a general audience can’t. I’m sure at a snooty party in the Hamptons people can. But Gatsby is “nouveau riche” and Tom is old money – and to a regular audience: who the hell can tell what either of those things are? We’re all just middle-class shlubs buying movie tickets.

        So BL and costume designer made it obvious – Gatsby in spats and pink suit and boater hat. And Tom making fun of it. It’s like a moment in middle school, and Gatsby reacts the same way. He thought he looked fantastic. But there is nothing – NOTHING – as snobby as “old money.” My first boyfriend came from “old money.” Old Newport Rhode Island money. And the perks of dating someone who came from a family like that were considerable – the summer houses, they freakin’ OWNED an island in the St. Lawrence Seaway where we used to go on vacation – and the whole dynamic was fascinating (and kind of gross). Once my boyfriend’s rich grandmother died – a war erupted among her fully-grown more-than-middle-aged “children” – about her properties – and nobody ever spoke to each other again. Like, they were WRETCHED people. Old money thinks it’s not classy to SHOW how much money they have. Gatsby, clearly, has not gotten that memo.

        So we have his ridiculous car and his pink suit. He thinks he looks fabulous. Tom knows he’s a big faker.

        (That’s why I loved the scene with Leo throwing the shirts down on Daisy’s head. He can’t believe he has so many beautiful shirts! They’re all for her! By the by – I love Leo’s acting in that moment. He looks like a big KID.)

        And in re: Citizen Kane. Well, F. Scott Fitzgerald had been out in Hollywood for years when that film was made – he knew all those people. And it wasn’t until after his death that Gatsby began to rise in stature. But I’m sure everyone read it.

        All I know is Baz L was certainly making that connection. The mysterious figure in a gigantic empty house that looks exactly like San Simeon!! And his final moment: he dies alone, but somehow Nick “knows” what happened. (In the book, he’s not on the phone with Gatsby – so that was a little bit of a cheat on Baz’s part – but I get why he did it.)

  8. Kent says:

    It’s wonderful to read your Gatsby piece now after all the dust has settled from the initial theatrical release. Enough time has passed and we now have a deeply renewed understanding of trench warfare, the Spanish flu, the trillion dollar+ financial driven by prohibition, even the Russian revolution in 1917, including the far earlier Boxer Rebellion. All the many things that caused the ‘20s to really roar! Joe Kennedy Sr. Or perhaps it was all Valentino’s fault, trading the pocket watch and chains for the dreaded flimsy wristwatch!
    The ‘20s were the Titanic of American social and financial history. Unsinkable. Until it sunk. A short happy life lived mythically forever after. With Leo riding roughshod over both. The man of the hour, in the ‘20s and now. Only sunk by the unsinkable.

    Gatsby is the only thing I’ve ever had in common with Ali McGraw. I’ve met her a few times, so I want to assure you that I’m not simply projecting. I do like to project my own private Gatsby movie of the mind. From 1949, I’d keep Barry Sullivan as Tom, the only actor who really grasped him , who could and would fight to the death to keep his unloving showpiece wife. Karen Black too, from 1974. But Ali McGraw as Daisy. A flirtatious way with men, in immediate devastating beauty and skin gone rough from too much time in the sun, on the boat, on the golf course, on the horse, on the dock, wondering who is across the bay. Knowing who is across the bay.
    So this is how Gatsby lives. In your rich torrent of defining words. In movies of the mind and tales of the jazz age and crack ups. What a legacy from Fitzgerald. And you. Thank you!

    • sheila says:

      // Or perhaps it was all Valentino’s fault, trading the pocket watch and chains for the dreaded flimsy wristwatch! //


      I love your comment!

      // The ‘20s were the Titanic of American social and financial history. Unsinkable. Until it sunk. A short happy life lived mythically forever after. With Leo riding roughshod over both. The man of the hour, in the ‘20s and now. Only sunk by the unsinkable. //

      This is so good.

      // Ali McGraw as Daisy. //

      What an intriguing thought!

      Daisy is a tough one, isn’t she. Despite my reservations about Carey Mulligan – (I did like her in Mudbound – but there she was part of an ensemble – I just don’t see her as a “lead” – I realize I’m not in charge, this is just my opinion, lol) – anyway, I think it was interesting casting because she is the opposite of charismatic – She doesn’t have any “mystery” about her. But maybe Baz understood Daisy in a deeper way than I did: that Gatsby had basically made it all up, that Daisy was not an alluring golden girl – but a fairly conventional girl who enjoyed slumming around before settling down to life a life of privilege. Like, no great shakes. And brutal in her practicality. I mean, Fitzgerald did write her this way in a way. It’s almost smarter casting to put someone in the role who is pretty in a conventional way, and not an alluring mysterious goddess – after all, we are seeing the story through Nick’s eyes, not Gatsby’s. To Gatsby, she was everything. That’s what unrequited love can do!

      Thank you so much for reading – it is one of the pieces I am most proud of – and for such a beautiful response!

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