Eighty-eighty years ago today, on April 10, 1925 in New York City, Charles Scribner’s Sons, i.e., Scribner, published F. Scott Fitzgerald’s masterpiece, The Great Gatsby.
The film world is, of course, abuzz over Baz Luhrmann’s film version, premiering May 10—the fourth attempt since the silent film era to portray Fitzgerald’s classic on the Silver Screen.
F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald famously walked out on Famous Players-Lasky Corporation’s 1926 version, co-starring Warner Baxter and Lois Wilson, and William Powell playing the
Charles Scribner III, great-grandson of Fitzgerald’s publisher, who knew great talent when he saw it, noted the glaring contrast between Paramount’s 1974 version directed by Jack Clayton, and written by Francis Ford Coppola—and Luhrmann’s extravaganza 39 years later. That film, starring Robert Redford and Mia Farrow, Scribner said, “was faithful and with impeccable performances, but too stately, like a coronation staged by Ralph Lauren.”
Based on the official trailers he’s seen, including the main one released last week, he liked the “Zeffirellian vision and energy,” quipping, “Can’t wait for summer—go for baroque!”
Another thing in its favor, he said, is, “DiCaprio never disappoints.” Indeed!
Asked about the relationship between Daisy and Gatsby, which the trailer suggests goes further than the book, where it’s largely in Gatsby’s head, Scribner said, “It may be taking some liberties, filling in blanks, but at least it’s not a direct violation of the plot, and the point, as in the film of ‘The End of the Affair’… stay tuned!”
Ah, but it’s impossible to compete with Fitzgerald’s artfully woven story, and the wounding real-life romance that underlies it: “Rich girls don’t marry poor boys,” the father of Ginevra King, who dumped Fitzgerald at age 21 to marry a ‘rich boy,’ said. Scott never quite recovered, as reflected in all his novels.
And, who better to shed light on Fitzgerald and The Great Gatsby than the publisher’s great-grandson, who spoke eloquently to these topics last May at The Morgan Library and Museum, as recounted in “Charles Scribner Illuminates F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby,” published last June 7, the 90th anniversary of Gatsby’s opening scene:
“Just as his life bridged two centuries,” he said, “so his work has a Janus-like aspect, looking back to the romantic lyricism and expansive dreams of the 19th century, and forward to the syncopated Jazz strains of the 20th.”…
“My whole theory of writing,” Fitzgerald said, “I can sum up in one sentence. An author ought to write for the youth of his own generation, the critics of the next, and the schoolmasters of ever afterward.”
—“Charles Scribner Illuminates F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby,” by Mary Claire Kendall, Forbes, June 7, 2012
And, he might have added all those Hollywood directors who thrill to Fitzgerald’s classic beats.
So, yes, “stay tuned!”