The Great Gatsby

Critics Consensus

The Great Gatsby proves that even a pair of tremendously talented leads aren't always enough to guarantee a successful adaptation of classic literary source material.



Total Count: 34


Audience Score

User Ratings: 20,746
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Movie Info

In this version of F. Scott Fitzgerald's elegiac novel, Robert Redford stars as self-made millionaire Jake Gatsby, who uses his fortune to buy his way into Long Island society. Most of all, Gatsby wants to win back the love of socialite Daisy Buchanan. The attempt is ultimately doomed to failure.

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Robert Redford
as Jay Gatsby
Mia Farrow
as Daisy Buchanan
Sam Waterston
as Nick Carraway
Bruce Dern
as Tom Buchanan
Karen Black
as Myrtle Wilson
Scott Wilson
as George Wilson
Lois Chiles
as Jordan Baker
Howard Da Silva
as Meyer Wolfsheim
Edward Herrmann
as Klipspringer
Elliott Sullivan
as Wilson's Friend
Arthur Hughes
as Dog Vendor
Beth Porter
as Mrs. McKee
Paul Tamarin
as Mr. McKee
John Devlin
as Gatsby's Bodyguard
Patsy Kensit
as Pamela Buchanan
Marjorie Wildes
as Pamela's Nurse
Jerry Mayer
as Reporter
Bob Sherman
as Detectives at Pool
Norman Chauncer
as Detectives at Pool
Regina Baff
as Miss Baedeker
Oliver Clark
as Fat Man
Tom Ewell
as Mourner
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Critic Reviews for The Great Gatsby

All Critics (34) | Top Critics (7)

  • The film is faithful to the letter of F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel but entirely misses its spirit.

    Mar 6, 2013 | Full Review…
  • In sum this picture is a total failure of every requisite sensibility. A long, slow, sickening bore.

    Mar 6, 2013 | Full Review…
  • The Francis Coppola script and Jack Clayton's direction paint a savagely genteel portrait of an upper class generation that deserved in spades what it got circa 1929 and after.

    Jul 26, 2007 | Full Review…

    Variety Staff

    Top Critic
  • Director Jack Clayton seems overawed by the opulence of the production as well as by the mythic presence of Fitzgerald -- and the result is a film of shimmering surface brilliance and almost complete lack of focus or substance.

    Jul 26, 2007 | Full Review…
  • A literary adaptation that continually begs detrimental comparison with the novel, this relies too much on appearance, making little attempt to explore behind the beguiling '20s façade.

    Jun 24, 2006 | Full Review…

    Derek Adams

    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • The movie can't see this through all its giant closeups of pretty knees and dancing feet. It's frivolous without being much fun.

    May 9, 2005

Audience Reviews for The Great Gatsby

  • Oct 16, 2014
    Faithful adaptation. Can't say I agree with the terrible reviews.
    Daniel P Super Reviewer
  • Aug 05, 2014
    The Great Gatsby is a standout novel that is brilliantly written with a simple story. This book adaptation captures the feel and tone of F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic work. I did enjoy the new version of The Great Gatsby, but I felt that this one was of course a superior film, a film that boasted some terrific performances and brilliant direction with wonderful storytelling. What makes The Great Gatsby such a great story is that it's a simple plot that is both poignant and dramatic, and these elements combine perfectly to create something quite wonderful. This is a superb picture, a film that is captivating from start to finish, and it's easily a classic. I really enjoyed the book, and it's one of my favorites as well, and with this adaptation, I felt that they managed to keep plenty of elements intact that has made the book so good. There are several great performances, and each actor brings something unique to the screen, which elevate the film significantly. If you've enjoyed the book, then by all means, this adaptation is by far the best take on Fitzgerald's material, and it's a film well worth your time if you've enjoyed the book or if you're looking for a finely crafted drama with some fine performances. Like I said, I did enjoy the current retelling of The Great Gatsby, and I do believe it's a bit underrated; however, this is the film version to watch of F. Scott Fitzgerald's literary classic. Give this film a shot, it's well worth your time, and it's a brilliantly acted and directed film that tells a great story.
    Alex r Super Reviewer
  • Jun 06, 2013
    Jack Clayton's 1974 adaptation of The Great Gatsby adapts the book very literally and is quite a bit dated, so although Robert Redford and Sam Waterston give good performances it doesn't end up adding up to much more than a mediocre adaptation and a reminder that sometimes 70s movies aren't all that great.
    Joey S Super Reviewer
  • Nov 25, 2012
    This movie's alright and everything, but I don't exactly know about "Great", and it would appear as though I'm not the only one who's not thinking about "Great" when it comes to this film, because this film didn't get terribly good reviews, and yet, it's still probably the best-reviewed adaptation of "The Great Gatsby" yet (Don't let us down, Baz), though that's probably just because more people actually saw this film. Now, I'm not saying that the adaptations before this one weren't much of a success, but we can't even find the first one anymore, and I can think of a few people would say that they wish we had lost this one, as well another couple of people who would say that they love this film. The reviews on this film have always been polarized, but in recent years, most everyone has been loosening up a bit on the film, so maybe the reason why this film was getting so much heat when it first came out was because, well, it had just come out, and was therefore not dirt-old enough to be critically lauded, but also because this film had the misfortune of being released the same year as "The Godfather Part II", thus excitement left the critics to probably go a bit overboard with their disappointment with this Francis Ford Coppola hype-builder, even though this film was directed by... that guy who did "Something Wicked This Way Comes" and some other stuff that no one saw. So yeah, if any director was going to get recognition with this film, then it was going to be the director who was only writing, and probably not quite as well as you would expect, so maybe they should have stuck with Truman Capote, as he did indeed know his Gothic intrigue with an eventual brutal twist, and considering that he also did "Breakfast at Tiffany's" and was flamboyantly gay, I'd imagine he could make this film even more glamorous. Granted, you might have ended with the love triangle between Jay Gatsby and Tom Buchanan being over Nick Carraway, but hey, that very well would have made things even more interesting. No, this film isn't that uninteresting, because although it's certainly no "Godfather", Coppola can sure write when he really needs to hit hard the most...-oh, and Jack - I don't know - Payton can sure direct when really needs to hit hard the most. Still, make no mistake, with all of its high points, this film still all too often finds itself going the way of the Jazz Age and getting a bit stale after a while, even with all of the pretty stuff. Glamorized, riddled with thematic depth and more dramatically manufactured than realist, F. Scott Fitzgerald's original vision is nothing short of a bonafide melodrama, and there's nothing wrong with that, if, of coure, you know how to work with the melodrama with effective genuineness, something that I'd imagine Fitzgerald nailed, as this film won't exactly let you know, as screenwriter Francis Ford Coppola and director Jack Clayton lose much of the genuineness of the source material in translation, thus leaving many of the melodramatic attributes to come off as too artificial and, in quite a few cases, fall flat as hardly buyable. Coppola's surprising lack of subtlety and Clayton's occasionally overbearing atmosphere glamorize the subject matter with an overambitious lack of dramatic delicacy, which not only leaves the degree disingenuousness of the melodrama to go heavily pronounced, but makes the artificial plotting all the worse through artificial, unsubtle resonance that toys desperately with your emotions until the emotional rise that the film keeps begging for finally go repelled. As I'll touch more upon later, there is indeed the occasional piece of genuine emotional resonance, or at least the occasional moment in which the resonance's manipulative efforts prove fruitful, yet on the whole, there is a kind of distance to the emotional resonance, or at least when emotional resonance does, in fact, rise. With all of my going on and on about the dramatic manufacturing and problematically overwhelming efforts for emotional rise, the film's biggest problems comes from what isn't done atmospherically, because, all too often, atmospheric kick dies and the film finds itself turning cold, bland and altogether considerably disengaging, and that, combined with the disingenuousness that breaks up the long periods of lifelessness, does enough damage to momentum, without the pacing issues. The film is paceless and falls as a slave to its hefty runtime, limping along for nearly two-and-a-half hours, and when such a pacing issue goes married with quietness and the aforementioned atmospheric coldness, considerable slowness is spawned and finds itself descending into dullness about as often as it descends into simple blanding steadiness. The film is rarely too terribly dull and is never really all that boring, yet things limp along much too often and give you enough time to meditate on the dramatic mishaps and other missteps that bland up this promising project so much that, by the time the film concludes, you find yourself walking away from a near-two-and-a-half-hour major adaptation of a legendary piece of classic dramatic literature with not much worth remembering, thus making for an underwhelming execution of a worthy vision. Of course, as flawed and improvable as this film is, it's not without its strengths, and quite a few of them, for although I wish I could say that the film hits nearly as hard as it should have and could have, the film sustains your attention more often than not, or at least your eyes with all of its glamour. If nothing else is gotten right with this film, then it is, of course, the glamour, and for success at spectacle, this film owes quite a bit of credit to the design team, whose production designs are cleverly intricate, dazzling and rich with livliness that may not exactly rival the quality of the production designs of something like, say, "Moulin Rouge!" (Seriously, Baz, don't let us down in 2013), yet catches your eye time and again, largely because Douglas Slocombe sure knows how to make things pretty. Attached to a 1974 film, Slocombe's photographic efforts have of course dated quite a bit, yet even to this day, you'd be hard pressed to deny the lovliness of the cinematography, which emphasizes lighting with an elegantyl dreamlike intensity, flaunts color with grace and is sometimes slickly staged to where environment is boasted stylishly and engagingly, thus the film is left standing as, if nothing else, a worthy style piece. As for the substance, again, the subject matter is handled messily, with cold blandness that goes broken up by a disconcering lack of subtlety, but really, there's no denying that Fitzgerald had crafted a worthy and intriguing tale with nifty thematic and dramatic weight that is not given the justice it deserves with this or, reportedly, any other adaptation, yet stands as valuable enough to spawn immediate intrigue. Such intrigue gives this film quite a bit of charm and engagement value, and when Jack Clayton finally hits his mark, the intrigue intensifies, for although Clayton, time and again, faults with the subject matter's dramatic possibilities, there come occasions in which he truly does spark life into the film when he needs to most, which gives you a taste of what this film could have been and refreshes your investment in the final product, whose effective moments wouldn't be as engaging as they ultimately are if they weren't backed by the acting, or at least some of it, as there are a few secondary or even tertiary performances that fall as subpar, with a certain major performance falling flat much more than it should. By 1974, alone, the lovely Mia Farrow had established herself as a talented thespian, yet with this film that relies so heavily upon her, while she is very much pretty enough to earn some degree of your attention, she slips up, and pretty glaringly, for although the iconic Daisy Buchanan character is supposed be melodramatically lively, Farrow goes over the top with her melodramatic overacting, while getting to be rather uneven in her presence, and comes off as disoncertingly artificial, and by extension, as hardly a compelling character, and her lame Southern belle accent doesn't help, or at least when she remembers to use it. Of course, outside of Farrow and a couple of other improvable female-I mean, much less major performances, the acting is commendable, with the underused Scott Wilson stealing the final act with engrossing emotional intensity, Sam Waterston charming as a very effectively human audience avatar, Bruce Dern engrossing as an effective dirtbag of an antagonist and, of course, Robert Redford engaging with subtle emotional involvement to his presence as the titular Jay Gatsby, a charming yet flawed soul tainted by his own ambition. The final product holds a lot of potential and not a whole lot of power, undercutting its potential and ambition time and again, yet compensating for most every with spectacles and moments of true inspiration that breathe enough life into the film to make it an enjoyable one, even with its share of mishaps. Overall, the film's worthy subject matter's melodramatic depth goes overemphasized time and again, and made all the worse by moments of emotional manipulation, or at least all of this is the case when atmosphere actually has some juice to it, as the film is all too often cold and dry, with considerable slowness that blands things up and helps in making the final product underwhelming, yet not so much so that it renders the film incapable of keeping you going, for although the film is improvable, its production designs are fine, as is its visual style, and its subject matter is worthy and brought to life enough by inspired moments in direction and acting to make Jack Clayton's "The Great Gatsby" a generally enjoyable take on F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic vision, even if there is ultimately much to be desired. 2.5/5 - Fair
    Cameron J Super Reviewer

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